PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL (September 4, 2016) -- The 2016 AJGA Junior Players Championship needed a sudden-death playoff to decide a champion. Khavish Varadan of Wesley Chapel, Florida, emerged as the victor with a tournament-total 10-under-par 206.
Even after a tournament-low 7-under-par 65 in the second round, the Malaysian-born Varadan still found himself looking up at the first- and second-round leader Cole Hammer of Houston. Playing from behind didn’t change Varadan’s game plan.
Trailing Hammer for 53 holes, Varadan found himself taking a drop from the lateral water hazard that runs the length of the par-5 18th, yet still remained confident in his ability to claim his first AJGA Invitational crown. After taking his drop, he put a wedge from 50 yards out to 3 feet and made the putt to force a playoff.
“After I hit my second shot into the water, I knew I would need to get up-and-down to have a chance,” Varadan said. “Once I made that putt I felt really good, and I knew that if I played No. 18 smarter the second time I would be able to win.”
The first-time AJGA winner played the playoff hole exactly how he planned it. He hit a 3-wood down the right-hand side of the fairway, laid up with an iron in position to hit an easy wedge into a back hole location. A two-putt from 20 feet was enough to hoist The Junior PLAYERS Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf trophy.
“It feels incredible to win, especially after I looked up after the first two rounds after thinking I was playing great golf and realizing I was still four shots back of the lead,” Varadan said. “This is one of the best fields you can play in, and it feels great to come out on top.”
The leader after 36 holes, Hammer came up just short in the sudden-death playoff after posting a tournament-total 10-under-par 206. The second-place finish is Hammer’s best Invitational finish since he began his AJGA career in 2013.
Finishing in third with a tournament-total 6-under-par 210 was Trey Winstead of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after three-consecutive rounds of 2-under-par 70. In fourth place was Mason Nome of Houston, at 4-under-par 212. In a tie for fifth at 3-under-par 213 was Jacob Bergeron of Slidell, Louisiana, and Bryan Teoh Wiyang of Jupiter, Florida.
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