IJGT Tournament of Champions final recap
-- photo IJGT
-- photo IJGT
ORLANDO, Fla. (May 28, 2012) -- A highly talented group of junior golfers came to compete in the season-ending 54-hole International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) Bridgestone Golf Tournament of Champions. Monday’s final round was cut short due to dangerous weather and heavy rainfall associated with tropical storm Beryl. The tournament was played on the New Course and the East/North Course at Grand Cypress Resort, both of which were designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Peter Mathison of West Palm Beach, Fla., won the Boys 15-19 Division in convincing fashion after firing rounds of 3-under-par 69 and 4-under-par 68. Mathison started off the Tournament of Champions very well making birdie on his third hole. He gave one stroke back on the par-3 fifth hole, but quickly bounced back with two consecutive birdies to turn in 1-under-par 35. From there he played flawless golf making seven pars and two birdies to finish out his round. During Sunday’s round Mathison continued his great play making a birdie on his opening hole on the New Course at Grand Cypress Resort. On the back-nine, Mathison caught fire making five birdies to shoot a 5-under-par 31. Four of the five birdies came in his last five holes. On the weekend, Mathison played the par-4’s in 6-under-par. His tournament total of 7-under-par 137 was seven strokes ahead of his fellow competitors and gave him his first IJGT victory.

Mathison had a great mental approach that allowed him to maintain his lead throughout the tournament. "I just stuck to my game, minimized my mistakes, and stayed patient. I knew if I could make par I could stay in the lead,” commented Mathison.

Mathison’s final-round score of 4-under-par 68 earned him the Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award, which goes to the player who shoots the lowest score during the final round.

Finishing in a tie for second place in the Boys 15-19 Division were Willis Huynh of Syosset, N.Y., and Josh Fisher of Las Vegas, Nev., with a tournament total of even-par 144.

In the Boys 14 & Under Division, Rij Patel of Hunt Valley, Md., claimed his fourth and most prestigious IJGT title with a tournament total of 1-over-par 145. Patel, the 2011-2012 IJGT Player of the Year in the Boys 14 & Under Division, ended his season in style after shooting rounds of 2-under-par 70 and 3-over-par 75. During Saturday’s round, Patel took advantage of great iron play and made four birdies including three in a four hole stretch. His round on Saturday was his lowest round with the IJGT all season. On Sunday, Patel got off to a great start with a birdie on the first hole, but he gave a few strokes back with five bogeys during his round. Patel was not hitting many greens in regulation; however his putter kept him atop the leaderboard.

For Patel this victory was special and extra satisfying because of the competition he faced. "The field was big and there was a ton of talent from players from all over the world so it really feels special to compete and beat these players," said Patel.

In second place with a tournament total of 148 was Gary McCabe of Collegeville, Pa. Finishing in third place was Zachary Hoskins of Orlando, Fla., with a tournament score of 149.

In the Girls Division, Susana Vik came out on top after putting together an impressive tournament total of 7-over-par 187. The Girls Division was a 45-hole tournament because every competitor finished at least nine holes in the division on Monday’s weather-shortened round.

Vik started the tournament off with a 2-under-par 70 on the New Course at Grand Cypress Resort, which was the lowest score in the Girls Division during the entire tournament. During that round she carded four birdies, two of which came on the par-3’s. This was Vik’s lowest round in an IJGT tournament this year, and it gave her a three stroke lead going into Sunday’s round on the East/North Courses. Scoring was more difficult on this course, but Vik maintained her lead after shooting a 6-over-par 78. The opening nine did not go well for Vik, but she closed strong with three birdies on her last nine holes to get back on track. Vik had a two stroke lead going into Monday’s round on the New Course, but she knew anything could happen with the weather forecast. Vik held steady under the strong winds and finished with a 3-over-par 39 to edge out Moyu Sasaki of Tokyo, Japan and Jackie Rogowicz of Yardley, Pa., by one stroke. This was Vik’s first IJGT victory of the season.

Vik was hitting on all cylinders this weekend, but there were a couple areas of her game that allowed her to score very well in tough conditions. "My putting had gotten a lot better, but my driving was on. I hit the ball very long and straight so it left me a lot of wedges for my approach shots so this made my putting easier," answered Vik when asked what was working well for her this weekend.

Isabella DiLisio of Hatfield, Pa., carded a 1-under-par 35 on Monday which was the lowest score in the Girls Division during the final round earning her the coveted Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award.

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