Oregon Junior: Champions crowned

BANDON, Ore. (July 4, 2008)--After a long week of competition that began with more than 250 junior golfers age 8-17 divided between the Bandon Trails and Bandon Dunes layouts at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore., titles for the best junior golfers in the region were awarded at the 78th Oregon Junior Amateur. Twenty-five finals matches were conducted, with the Championship Flights in each division teeing off in order for “March of the Champions” to determine the top golfer in each of the seven divisions. The first championship final was contested in the Pee Wee division between Dylan Wu of Medford, Ore. and John Nichols of La Quinta, Calif. Nichols started strong and had Wu down three after the first four holes, but Wu, who was last year’s runner-up was determined not to finish in similar fashion. He fought back to get the match all-square by the 8th hole and never looked back shooting seven pars and just two bogeys in the last nine holes to win the match on the 16th hole 4 & 2. Next off the tee was the Intermediate Girls division with Morgan Thompson of Tualatin, Ore. facing Tess Jennings of Portland, Ore. Thompson advanced to the finals by beating perennial favorite Ashlee Pickerell of Salem, 2 & 1 and as the number two seed became the odds on favorite to win. Both players got off to a rough start, but once Thompson’s nerves settled down after the 4th hole, she clearly was in control of her game scoring pars on 10 straight holes and only one bogey in 13 holes to win the match on the 17th hole. The most remarkable story was in the Intermediate Boys match-up between Conor Oliver of Sandy, Ore. and medalist Beau Scott of Washougal, Wash.

Last year, Oliver was diagnosed with Leukemia and was unable to play as he underwent chemotherapy treatment to combat the disease. To this day, he takes daily oral doses of chemo and makes a monthly hospital visit. With his tiring trek to the finals and his stamina questionable, Oliver needed to take command of the match as early as possible. He lost the first hole but gained it back quickly after two. By the 8th hole he was 4-up, but that was when he began to stumble. “I didn’t know if I could go the distance,” said Oliver.

At the turn, he was visibly tired and had an upset stomach opening the door for Scott who was able to almost bring the match to even. But Oliver’s will to succeed and perseverance along with his Scott hitting his ball into an environmental hazard forced Scott to concede the match. “I didn’t play particularly well,” noted Oliver before going on to exclaim: “I’ve never lost a match in the Junior Amateur.”

This is his third trophy. n 2005, he won the 2nd Flight, and upon playing his way into the championship flight in 2006, he won the Pee Wee title. The Boys Division pitted defending champion Thomas Arand of McMinnville, Ore. against Alex Kang of Portland, Ore. Kang was never down in the match and a lost ball on the final hole forced the final result with Kang winning 4 & 2. The most competitive match of the day was in the Girls Division, with Seshia-Lei Telles of Tualatin, Ore. competing against one of her best friends on the junior circuit, medalist Amy Beth Simanton of Lake Oswego, Ore. The day prior, the two joked about taking the match to extra holes with Telles lamenting that she had never beaten Simanton in match play. For most of the day, it appeared no one wanted to take control of the match as it went back and forth all day and it was the only match to go the full 18-holes.

"It was a display of incredible golf, "said referee Terry McEvilly. "Between the two, they only missed three fairways all day.” Telles has been playing incredible golf of late, having set the women’s competitive course record at Forest Hills Golf Course last week shooting 67. Her scoring today was equally impressive as she was even par through 17-holes. Simanton was also scoring well and was just 1-over par for the day. “It was a difficult match,” said Telles. “We hardly talked to each other today. We knew that at some point, one of us would win.” On the final hole, Telles stuck her approach to within three feet of the hole and then had the easy eagle putt conceded by Simanton after she lipped out her birdie put, making the outcome inevitable.

“I’m proud of how I played, but it’s hard to see a friend lose,” she said. The marquee match of the day was the Junior Championship final between Bobby Monaco of Eugene, Ore. and Connor Rumpf of Sherwood, Ore. Unlike the Girls match which was competitive all day, it appeared the Monaco would roll over Rumpf. Neither player scored particularly well, but Monaco scored just a little better than Rumpf taking a commanding 4-hole lead in the first four holes.

“That type of lead is hard to maintain,” said referee Cliff Shahbaz of Portland, Ore.

In fact, Rumpf got the match back to all-square by 13th hole before the wheels fell off. On the final hole, both players drove the ball poorly, but while Monaco got safely back to the fairway, Rumpf had a bad break with his next shot going into a greenside bunker and was stymied with no opportunity to advance the ball. The last flight to tee off was the Pee Wee Girls who play only nine holes with Gigi Stoll of Portland, Ore winning 4 & 2 over Salem’s Deanna Salvatori. Stoll has dominated the division for the last two years and it was no surprise that she won here especially when she was at even par through the seven holes played.

--Courtesy OGA

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