Polo Junior: Young, Strom win titles
29 Nov 2013
see also: Polo Junior Golf Classic, Echo Lake Country Club

- AJGA photo
- AJGA photo

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Nov. 29, 2013) — Cameron Young of Scarborough, N.Y., defeated three first-team Rolex Junior All-Americans en route to his first AJGA win at the Polo Golf Junior Classic. Linnea Ström of Hovas, Sweden, edged her final three challengers 1-up to earn her first AJGA victory at PGA National Resort & Spa.

The Polo Golf Junior Classic, which has been conducted annually since 1978, marked the first tournament of the American Junior Golf Association's 2014 season. The 156-player invitation-only field was made up of 78 boys and 78 girls, ages 13-18, from 27 states and seven foreign countries. Former champions include Stewart Cink (1989), Trevor Immelman (1995), Tiger Woods (1991), Paula Creamer (2002), Grace Park (1994, 1996) and Morgan Pressel (2004).

Young, playing in only his second AJGA event, earned the No. 5 seed for match play competition after finishing stroke play at 1-over-par 144. Standing between the 2015 graduate and champion honors were five players who have combined for seven AJGA wins and included three first-team Rolex Junior All-Americans.

“This is probably the best field I’ve ever played against – the most concentrated junior field in the world,” Young said. “Beating the kids I did in Brad Dalke, Andy Zhang and Jorge [Garcia] today … I even surprised myself.”

Young faced No. 30 seed Jorge Garcia of Miami, a two-time 2013 champion, in the final match Friday. After halving the first hole, Garcia made double and conceded No. 2, giving Young the 1-up lead. Young would never relinquish the lead, playing the remainder of the round without a bogey and pushing ahead to a 4-up lead through 13 holes. On the green of No. 14, Young ended the match after sinking a 20-foot putt for birdie.

“It’s an honor to be here and to have won, it’s a great feeling,” Young said. “At the end of this long week, I was just so tired. I was so focused on every shot and just getting one foot in front of the other. It made it a lot easier, actually, not being able to think too much.”

Ström faced an equally difficult track to the final match as Young, facing two first-team Rolex Junior All-Americans, as well as a member of the Second Team and an Honorable Mention honoree. Her challengers have combined for 10 AJGA wins.

In the final match of the event, No. 18 seed Ström was slated against No. 13 seed Lakareber Abe of Angleton, Texas. An accomplished match play competitor, Abe made it to the finals of the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship in July. After taking a 5-up through nine lead, Ström faced a difficult back-nine stretch, losing five of the next six holes.

“I was very nervous the entire round,” Ström said. “Even when I was 5-up after nine holes I just tried to focus on my own game. She [Abe] started to play good and I made some bogies, but I just wanted to win so much.”

With a 1-up edge after the first of three holes in the infamous Bear Trap, the Swede channeled her inner competitor, making skilled plays from bunkers on No. 16 and 17 to protect her lead. On the final hole of the afternoon, Ström made par to seal the victory and become the first Swedish girl to win the Polo Golf Junior Classic.

“I’m just very happy,” Ström said. “It has been so great to be here this week. Everything has been so well organized, everyone is so nice and the courses have been very good. I have been working very hard back home in Sweden, so I’m just very happy [to get this win].”

ABOUT THE Polo Junior Classic

One of the AJGA series of tournaments that require an invitation to participate. Format is 72 holes of stroke play, with a cut after 54 holes. Open to boys and girls aged 12-19.

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