CORAL GABLES, FL. 30TH Dec: The 52st edition of the Junior Orange Bowl International belongs to Norway’s Kristoffer Reitan and Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela.

Reitan posted a four-day total of 279, 5-under par with a final-round 70, resilient play for a tournament featuring stiff wind all week.

Valenzuela finished 3-under par (281) to take the Girls Division by three strokes from France’s Agathe Laisne and South Korea’s Euikyung Shin, while frontrunner for most of the event, North Carolina’s Emilia Migliaccio, finished 5th.

Defending champion Joaquin Niemann from Chile and Belgium’s Adrien Dumont de Chassart both birdied the 72nd hole to tie second place on even par. Niemann’s attempt to become the first Boy player to repeat the title was thwarted by a balky putter, his ball striking as immaculate as ever. “It’s the way golf goes, but obviously frustrating,” he said.

Will Dickson from Providence RI was the low USA boy, tied 7th on 288.

“It feels amazing,” Reitan, 17, said afterwards. “That was the hardest round of golf I’ve ever played, mentally really exhausting, having to keep my emotions in check for the entire day. I was particularly pleased to avoid doing anything stupid, especially toward the end. To feel all these emotions on a golf course was a really good experience and hopefully will be useful in the future.”

Asked at what stage he began to believe he could win, the charismatic young Norwegian confessed “It was never easy. After the first nine, when I led by five strokes, I was still thinking there was a long way to go. Then I bogeyed three in a row and the lead was down to two. Luckily I was able to birdie the 13th and from there on I got more comfortable. But it was only when I hit the 17th green that I felt I had compete control.”

Valenzuela came into the week full of confidence, having won at the Doral Junior the week pre- Christmas and competing in the JOBI for the third time.

“The golf course suits my game,” she said. “After last year (when she finished third) I knew that if I played my style of golf, I would have a chance. To actually achieve my ambition of winning this event, well it still has to sink in.” A solid final round of 70 sealed the championship. “I enjoy attacking pins and that’s how I played today, and it worked.”

Now she’s off to challenge for the Mexican Amateur in Guadalajara, a tournament where her father was runner-up four times. “I’d love to win there for family honor, but honestly, to win the Junior Orange Bowl is truly fantastic.”

Courtesy of Junior Orange Bowl

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