BROOMFIELD, COL. (July 13, 2011) -- Perhaps that sun-yellow shirt Allie Johnston wore Wednesday was symbolic. Her future appears so bright, she might have to wear shades.
Another indication of that came this week at the CWGA Junior Stroke Play, where Johnston not only won her first CWGA title, but she ran away with it by eight strokes and finished 11 under par for three rounds at Eagle Trace Golf Club in Broomfield.
The victory was the Castle Rock golfer’s second of July, following her triumph last week in the AJGA Lubbock (Texas) Junior. She’s also qualified for two USGA championships so far in 2011, and it’s only mid-July.
In shooting 70-69-69 for a 208 total at Eagle Trace, the 17-year-old Johnston racked up 16 birdies in 54 holes. Shannon Lubar of Littleton, who qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship earlier this year, also finished under par for the week at 3-under 216, but still was no match for Johnston. Shinwoo Lee of Kennedy Golf Course ended up third at 221.
“I’ve always wanted to win a CWGA stroke play or match play, but I’ve never gotten the chance, so this means a lot to me,” said Johnston, a senior-to-be at Rock Canyon High School. “It was fun and super exciting.”
All of the top three finishers -- along with 5A state high school champion and CWGA Junior Match Play winner SeungHa Choi -- will comprise the CWGA’s team at the girls Junior America’s Cup matches that will be played July 26-28 in Reno, Nev. It will be Johnston’s third time on the team and Lee’s second. (Pictured at left is Lubar hitting, with Lee and Johnston looking on.)
Johnston has long been a solid player, but she’s definitely taken another significant step this year. She said she had never broken par before this year, yet she easily went three-for three in the Junior Stroke Play and has “seven or eight” subpar rounds for 2011. In addition, she had never broken 70 before this month, but she’s now done so three times in the last six days. In the Lubbock AJGA event, she rallied from four strokes back going into the final day, shot 68 and won by one.
Asked how much better she is than a year ago at this time, Johnston said, “a LOT better. Last year I was struggling big time. This year it’s kind of like, ‘I’m going to try to go under (par) today.’”
Johnston switched instructors and changed her swing in the middle of last summer, and the move is paying dividends.
“It’s just now getting to the point I can play with it, I guess,” she said of her new swing. “And I’ve been practicing putting a whole lot more, trying to get the birdies to drop. It’s paying off.”
Indeed, on Wednesday Johnston made certain of her victory with a 4-under-par 32 on her final nine holes, matching what she did Tuesday on that side. She birdied three of her last five holes of the tournament, draining putts of 18 feet on both No. 16 and 17.
“She played really strong,” Lubar said. “I played OK, but I wasn’t making putts like she was. So it was hard to catch her. “
This marked the third straight year the CWGA Junior Stroke Play has turned into a rout. Last summer, Paige Spiranac won the title by 10 strokes at Broken Tee Englewood, and Somin Lee prevailed by six in 2009 at Lone Tree Golf Club.
This year, Johnston took a four-stroke lead into the final day, but tried not to look at it that way.
“I was trying to go lower every day but mostly I was coming out just thinking that we’re all starting out even every day,” she said. “That made it a little bit easier (to keep pushing to play well).”
View results for Colorado Junior Girls Stroke Play Championship