SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Jorge Garcia of Miami took home his second-career AJGA victory by four-strokes at the Thunderbird International Junior. Nicole Morales of South Salem, N.Y., claimed her second AJGA Invitational after finishing at 5-under-par 211 at Grayhawk Golf Club.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Thunderbird International Junior was a 54-hole stroke play competition played on the par-72, Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club. The event featured 48 boys and 30 girls, ages 12-18, from 17 states and 14 countries. The Boys Division played the course at 7,112 yards while the Girls Division played the course at 6,342 yards.
Garcia extended his lead early with a birdie on the par-4, No. 2. After marking a bogey on No. 3, he erased the deficit and responded with a birdie on No. 4. He maintained his lead heading into the par-5 No. 7, where he found the green in two and made an eagle putt from four feet.
“I doubled the fifth hole but came back and eagled the seventh and birdied the eighth, which was a big momentum builder,” said Garcia, who verbally committed to the University of Florida. “After that I was just doing the same as the days before. I knew it was going to be about hitting a lot of greens today and being patient.”
After making the turn, Garcia made consecutive birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 to extend his lead to five strokes. Even with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17, it was enough to maintain a four- stroke lead heading to No. 18. Garcia tapped in for par on No. 18 to card a 2-under-par 70 in the final round, en route to a 10-under-par 206 tournament total.
“Walking down 18 I felt pretty good,” Garcia said. “I had already done the job so I just wanted to get to the green and two-putt.”
After making two eagles to finish at 3-under-par 69, Scott Scheffler of Dallas tied for second with Austin Connelly of Irving, Texas at 6-under-par 210. Sam Burns of Shreveport, La., took fourth at 4-under-par 212. Brad Dalke of McKinney Texas, Christopher Petefish of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Matt Gilchrest of Southlake, Texas, tied for fifth at 3-under-par 213. Jacob Solomon of Dublin, Calif., and Carl Yuan of Lake Mary, Fla., tied for eighth after posting 2-under-par 214s. Rounding out the top 10 was Zecheng Dou of Beijing, and Zachary Bauchou, of Forest, Va., at 1-under-par 215.
Morales and Ashlan Ramsey dueled until the end, with Ramsey tying Morales early after making a birdie on No. 2. Morales held a one-stroke lead after making the turn, but bogeyed the par-4 No. 10. With both girls atop the leaderboard at No. 16, Ramsey took control of the lead with a birdie.
“Ashlan was playing her best today, she made me earn it,” said Morales, who claimed her third AJGA victory Monday. “I just remember when she drained that putt on 16. The fact that I got it close to the pin was adrenaline for me.”
Ramsey carded her first bogey on the back nine at No. 17, resulting in a deadlock heading to No. 18. After both girls found the green in three on the par-5 final hole, Morales drained her birdie putt en route to a 3-under-par 69 and Ramsey settled for par.
“I’m going to be dreaming about that putt, it was perfect,” said Morales about her putt for birdie on No. 18. “As I stood over it, I had a good feeling. When I saw it tracking to the hole, I thought that it was going in and when it actually did the crowd lit up like the Fourth of July.”
Ramsey of Milledgeville, Ga., finished in second after carding a 4-under-par 212. Amy Lee of Brea, Calif., took third at 1-over-par 217. Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, Calif., finished in fourth at 2-over-par 218. Yu Liu of Beijing, China, rounded out the top five at 3-over-par 219.
View results for AJGA Thunderbird International Junior Golf Championship