AJGA Mooney Jr: Castro, Piccio take it
29 Jun 2008

ROME, Ga.(June 26, 2008)--After a two-and-a-half-hour rain delay, the final round resumed play and Franco Castro of Alpharetta, Ga., fired a final-round 6-under-par 64 to capture the title at the Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic at Coosa Country Club. In the Girls Division, Maria Piccio of Bradenton, Fla., shot a final-round 2-under-par 69 for a tournament total 6-under-par 207 and her second win of the season.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic featured 99 players from 18 states and South America. The field consisted of 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18. The Boys Division played Coosa Country Club as a par-70 at 6,783 yards, while the Girls Division played it as a par-71 at 6,036 yards.

Castro's victory comes during his first year of competition in the AJGA. The 16-year-old, who watched his brother win the tournament eight years ago in a playoff, had high hopes for a victory, but knew that age and experience could be a factor.

“It's kind of cool because I watched my brother win here and watching him do so well and win made me want to play well and win here also,” Castro said. “But, I was just trying to get top five, so a win is nice because I am pretty young.”

Shawn Yim of Buford, Ga., finished in second place with a tournament total 2-under-par 208. Blaine Woodruff of Acworth, Ga., finished in third with a tournament total 1-under-par 209. Tied in fourth and rounding out the top of the leaderboard with tournament totals of even-par 210 were Jack Yancey of Rome, Ga., Jade Scott of Daingerfield, Texas, Sean Hassell of Walhalla, S.C., Clark Palmer of Augusta, Ga., Tyler Mitchell of Cadiz, Ky., and Logan Knebels of Alpharetta, Ga.

In the Girls Division, Piccio's final-round 69 was enough to hold off a rally by defending champion Austin Ernst of Seneca, S.C. Although the current all-time winning margin record holder was not sure of her chance at a victory, her game held steady.

“I wasn't hitting it well before the tournament, but I guess I just needed some adrenaline,” Piccio said. “It feels really good to win.”

Focusing on the fundamentals was the key to her success.

“Overall, I shot well. I hit three fairways and 12 greens and only had 27 putts,” Piccio said. “My putting was really working for me this week. I had 25 on the first day and 27 the next two days.”

Ernst, who won the tournament last year, carded the lowest final round in the Girls Division with a 4-under-par 66 for a tournament total 4-under-par 209 and second place.

“I had eight birdies and I thought my putting worked well,” Ernst said. “On No. 6 I hit my best iron shot probably ever.”

Finishing tied for third with tournament totals of 3-under-par 210 were Anna Keith of Moultrie, Ga., and Kyung Kim of Chandler, Ariz.

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