Western Junior: Whitsett holds off the field by 4

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (June 20, 2008)--Cory Whitsett added the 91st Western Junior title to his growing resume on Friday, coasting to a 2-under-par 68 to close out the 72-hole championship at 12-under-par 268, four strokes in front of Tyler McCumber and T.J. Vogel.

Playing at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Georgia, Whitsett started the day two shots in front of Vogel and four ahead of McCumber. When Vogel sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the par 4, 13th, Whitsett’s lead fell to just one, but on the par 5, 15th, Whitsett two-putted for birdie while Vogel bogeyed. Three routine pars on the final three holes sealed the victory for Whitsett.

“I’m really pleased,” said Whitsett, 16, of Houston, Texas. “Today was a test of patience. I didn’t really get much to drop and didn’t hit the ball as well as I had been. I putted well, but nothing really went in … I didn’t have any bogeys, though.”

A pair of bogeys on the final four holes stopped Vogel from putting pressure on Whitsett.

“I was right there through 14 holes,” said Vogel, 17, of Cooper City, Fla., who finished Friday’s round at even par 70. “I was playing a decent round; then I made a few bad swings that led to bogeys. You can’t bogey par 5s and win.”

McCumber, 17, of Ponte Vedra, Fla., matched Whitsett’s 68 but never could put pressure on the leader.

“My mindset wasn’t to ‘catch’ him, but to play each shot, one at a time, and see how it all added up,” said McCumber, whose father – PGA TOUR player Mark McCumber – caddied for him. “But I’m super happy with the week. This was my best tournament this year by far.”

For Whitsett, who is second in the current Polo Golf rankings, adding the Western Junior – the oldest national junior championship – to his list of wins was especially satisfying.

“There have been some great players win this and some who played in it and didn’t win,” said Whitsett, the 2007 U.S. Junior champion. “To win it gives me a really good feeling. I really hit the ball well this week, especially under pressure down the stretch. It really feels good.”

Also “feeling good” was China native Zhong Yang “Sam” Fu, 17, who burned the Seaside Course with a record round of 33-28-61, carding eight birdies, an eagle and one bogey to best 2002 Western Junior competitor Rob Grube’s previous record of 62.

Fu started the day in 65th place after rounds of 74, 71 and 76 and jumped to a tie for 14th.

“After the third round, I almost gave up,” said Fu, who also has Canadian citizenship and attends the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla. “I was thinking about nothing today. I played more aggressive, aimed every shot at the pin and made the putts.

“It feels great,” Fu said. “The golf course is great, nice conditions, good design, and nice weather.”

View results for Western Junior Golf Championship

ABOUT THE Western Junior

72-hole stroke play event open to male amateur golfers who are at least 16 years old and not older than 19 by the end of the tournament. Entrants must have an official and verified handicap index not exceeding three strokes. Field maximum of 156.

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