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Chacon, Smith secure SCGA Junior Am titles
Briana Chacon and Ryan Smith (SCGA/Twitter photo)
Briana Chacon and Ryan Smith (SCGA/Twitter photo)

BEAUMONT, Calif. (Oct. 22, 2018) – History was made during the fourth installment of the Southern California Junior Amateur Championship, when Briana Chacon became the first two-time winner of the tournament. Chacon went wire-to-wire, extending what was a one-stroke lead after the first round and turning it into a three-stroke victory.

Chacon overcame windy conditions in the first day of play at Morongo GC at Tukwet Canyon and put herself in control of her own destiny for the second round.

Chacon finished 6 under and outlasted a late push from Amari Avery and Leigh Chien, who both finished at 3 under. Avery rattled off seven birdies on the front nine to challenge Chacon, while Chien snuck up with machine-like consistency. But Chacon fought them off throughout the tournament with her steady play under pressure. Chacon was the only player to finish under par in both rounds after following up her first-round score of 71 with a 67 to seal the championship. Despite the push from her competitors, Chacon stayed focused and finished the round bogey-free.

“Today I felt really calm out there and I hit a lot of greens, which was a big plus,” Chacon said. “I got a few putts to drop in and that’s what really separated me from the field.”

The high school senior said she is looking forward to seeing what comes next for her on the golf course. With her victory, Chacon earned an exemption into next summer’s SCGA Women’s Amateur Championship.

In conjunction with the SCPGA, Morongo GC at Tukwet Canyon hosted the 2018 Southern California Junior Amateur Golf Championship.

In the Boys’ Divison, Ryan Smith, a familiar name, took home the trophy Sunday afternoon after finishing T2 last year.

While it was wire-to-wire, it wasn’t a cake walk as he was forced into a sudden-death playoff with Sebastian Vallejo who held the low round of the tournament, five-under par.

“I hit a really good tee ball and put a 9-iron into the green,” Smith said. “It would’ve been nice to make that putt for birdie but I just wanted to play it safe.”

Throughout the day, however, Smith wasn’t thinking safe – with shots like driving the green on the third hole.

“It was an up and down kind of day, I’m sure my mom was running miles around the house at home watching [the live scoring],” said the Carlsbad resident.

With a total of 15 birdies, seven bogeys and two doubles this weekend, Smith hung tight until the very end.

Behind Smith was his playoff competitor Vallejo, Eric Doyle, Ryan Hartanto and Evan Chien to round out the top five.

“After coming close last year, it feels good to come back, shoot a few under par scores and get the job done,” Smith said.

As the SoCal Junior Amateur Champion, will see Smith at the 2019 SCGA Amateur Championship, as well as the 2019 California Amateur Championship.

ROUND ONE A pair of players share the lead at the SCGA Junior Amateur after going 3 under in the opening round at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon. Ryan Smith and Andrew Hoekstra are now the players to catch and beat.

Both players had colorful scorecards on Saturday, throwing in several birdies and bogeys. Smith, of Carlsbad, Calif., had gotten to 3 under after five holes, then counted a bogey and two more birdies before the turn for a 32. A back-nine 37 included a double-bogey at No. 13.

As for Hoekstra, of Long Beach, Calif., the day started with an eagle at the par-4 third. Two eagles and three bogeys followed on the front nine. Hoekstra threw in two birdies on the back to reach 69.

A three-way tie for third at 2-under 70 includes Benjamin Hong, Ryan Hartanto and Brooks Li.

In the girls division, Briana Chacon of Whittier, Calif., leads with a 1-under 71, the only under-par score on the leaderboard. Chacon had five birdies and a bogey when she stepped onto the 18th tee. She made triple bogey there, but still managed to finish the day with the lead.

Chacon, who reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with partner Ty Akabane last year, is one ahead of Leigh Chien, who had even-par 72 on Saturday. Amari Avery and Ke Yang are at 1 over and tied for third.

ABOUT THE SCGA Junior Amateur

The Southern California Junior Amateur Golf Championship is co- hosted by the SCGA and the SCPGA. Started in 2015, this championship was created to determine the best junior golfers in Southern California. The boys championship is open to Southern California male amateur golfers with an established USGA Handicap Index of 5.4 or below who are 18 years of age or younger. The girls championship is open to Southern California female amateur golfers with an established USGA Handicap Index of 9.4 or below who are 18 years of age or younger. The Championships are conducted over 36 holes of stroke play.

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