AJGA Mizuno Junior: Phelan, Chen take titles

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (March 23, 2008)--Kevin Phelan of St. Augustine, Fla., took home the Boys Division title at the Mizuno Junior at Innisbrook at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club Sunday, carding a 1-under-par 70 for a 2-under-par 211 tournament total. In the Girls Division, Doris Chen of Bradenton, Fla., survived a wild finish to take the victory with a final-round 2-under-par 68 and a 212 tournament total.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 15th annual Mizuno Junior at Innisbrook featured 138 boys and 78 girls — ages 12-18 — from 27 states and five foreign countries. This was the largest tournament field in the history of the AJGA. Past champions of the event include current PGA and LPGA Tour players Charles Howell III, Ryuji Imada, Beth Bauer and Brittany Lincicome. The Boys Division played the par-71 Copperhead Course at 7,105 yards, while the Girls Division competed on the par-70 Highlands North Course, which played at 5,791 yards.

Phelan came into the final round with a four-stroke lead and never looked back, finishing five shots ahead of the field. The 17-year-old, playing in only his third AJGA event, came into the day determined to focus on his own game and not worry what his playing partners were doing.

“My mindset at every tournament this year has been to be fully committed on every shot I make,” Phelan said. “It worked really well today.”

Phelan credited strong iron play as the key to his victory. On No. 12, he hit a 6-iron to five feet of the hole. On the following hole, he hit a 5-iron to three feet. Phelan was able to convert both birdie putts. His ability to make the short putts — he never missed one outside of five feet — was another integral part of his low round.

“I feel really good about the way I played today and I'm happy I got the win,” Phelan said. “I'm looking forward to playing more events this spring.”

Cheng-Tsung Pan of Upland, Calif., took sole possession of second place with a final-round 1-under-par 70 and a 216 tournament total. Kyle Kopsick of Lake Bluff, Ill., took third with a 218 tournament total. Sebastian Szirmak of Toronto, Ontario, William Sjaichudin of Jakarta, Indonesia, and Byeong-hun An of Seoul, South Korea, tied for fourth place with matching 219 tournament totals.

In the Girls Division, Chen began the day five shots off the pace and teed off in the third-to-last girls group. From the beginning, she stated she felt less tired and more focused than she had all week.

“My head was much clearer today,” Chen said. “I felt I was swinging better and everything flowed.”

Chen proved her comfort on the course early, carding a 3-under-par 32 on the front nine with birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 7. She followed with a 1-over-par 36 on the back nine, her only misstep of the round a bogey on the 18th hole. Chen knew she played well, but did not realize she won until the final group left the scoring tent.

“I'm still in shock, but it feels great to win,” Chen said.

Dottie Ardina, also of Bradenton, and Lindy Duncan of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., tied for second place with 213 tournament totals. Evan Jensen of Belleair, Fla., and Lindsey Solberg of Verona, Wis., shared fourth place after carding 214 tournament totals.

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ABOUT THE AJGA Mizuno Junior at Innisbrook

One of the AJGA series of "open" tournaments with a Performance Based Entry process (see below). Format is 54 holes of stroke play. Field Size: 216. Must be AJGA member.

Performance Based Entry Process
In 2003, the AJGA abandoned its tournament selection process that was based on the strength of a tournament application and resume in favor of a Performance Based Entry process. This enables 12-18-year-old members to earn their way into AJGA Open tournaments based on performances at the national, regional and state levels.

Through more than 20 years of research on junior golf tournaments, the AJGA has compiled a list of hundreds of tournaments included in Performance Based Entry. This includes national events, other junior tours, regional events as well as events on the state level. The AJGA records information on all players (AJGA members and non-members) who play in a recognized event and meet the required finish in that event.

The Performance Based Entry status is the main criterion used for non-exempt players to gain entry into an AJGA open event. AJGA members can view their status anytime in the AJGA Player Center on the AJGA Web site, ajga.org.

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