Norway's Reitan allows field to get close, holds onto lead at Jr. Orange Bowl
Kristoffer Reitan
Kristoffer Reitan

CORAL GABLES, FLA (Dec 29, 2015) -- With eighteen defining holes to play, Norway’s Kristoffer Reitan leads Trinidad’s Sachin Kumar by a stroke in the Boys Division, Chile’s defending champion Joaquin Niemann three off the lead.

The Girls title is also closely contested, Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela overtaking second round leader Emilia Migliaccio to lead by a single stroke, their closest challenger France’s Mathilda Cappeliez.

In yet another windy day in South Florida, the evolving story was as complex as the weather. After nine holes, by reeling off three birdies in the first four holes, Reitan led by six.

“It was all going well, then suddenly it wasn’t,” he explained. “I missed an easy chip and putt par save at 11, then hit my tee shot in the water at the par-3 12th and took a double-bogey. I thought I’d steadied up with a birdie at the 14th but poor shots on 16 and 17 cost a couple more shots.

“Obviously I’m pleased still to have the lead. In fact, I’m glad it is just one shot, rather than three, because I think I’ll learn much more from the experience.”

Kumar wasn’t watching his co-competitor struggles; he was fighting his own demons. “My iron game was off but fortunately my wedge game was really sharp. I had seven, maybe eight, up-and-down par saves.” Two birdies on the back-nine par fives and his day added up to 70, two better than Reitan.

Niemann, suffering from a sore throat, also carded 70 without the aid of his putter. “I didn’t make a thing all day,” he said.

In the Girls Division, the story was similar. Migliaccio pushed her overnight lead to four at the halfway point but she too was put on tilt by a double-bogey at the 13th, a greenside chip caught clean followed by a horrid lie. “I wasn’t hitting my irons well, and I couldn’t fix it out on the course,” she said.

Migliaccio’s bogey at the 16th presented Valenzuela a tied lead and when the 17-year old from Geneva birdied the closing hole, she was in front for the first time. Neither girls believe in pressure of their situations. “I didn’t feel any pressure,” said North Carolina’s Migliaccio, “I just could not hit the shots as I wanted.”

“I’m not a nervous person,” said New York born Valenzuela, whose parents moved to Switzerland when she was five. “I just go and play, try my best and see what happens.”

Courtesy of Junior Orange Bowl

ABOUT THE Junior Orange Bowl

72-hole invitation-only event. Players must not have reached their 19th birthday by the end of the tournament and must not be participating on a College/University team. The field is limited to a maximum of 72 Boys and 42 girls representing US and Foreign Countries. There are no age categories and there is no cut during the Championship. Invitations are sent out in mid- September. The tournament's alumni list includes current professional players Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, and Lexi Thompson.

The golf tournament is just one of 15 competitions among The Junior Orange Bowl Festival. This volunteer-led, not-for-profit organization hosts athletic, academic, and cultural competitions that draw over 7,500 youth from Miami, the State of Florida, across the United States, and over 76 countries worldwide to compete. The annual marquee event rounding out each festival season is the Junior Orange Bowl Parade, a community based youth parade that travels through the historic streets of Coral Gables featuring high school and college marching bands, floats and various youth and community groups attracting over 35,000 families, friends, and neighbors. It dates back to 1948.

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