Shooting Stars: Meadows, Eure Claim Golfweek Junior Titles
Lance Ringler was wearing a short-sleeved golf shirt, but the Golfweek writer and junior tournament director was probably wishing he had on a sweater -- or at least a wind shirt.
The starter's tent was set up between the putting green and the clubhouse at Little River Farm Resort, and the brisk fall weather had the girls getting ready to tee off in the Golfweek Junior Invitational all bundled up.
"This is our seventh year of putting this event on," Ringler said as he watched the girls teeing off in the 54-hole event. This has been one of our stronger junior tournaments. There are a lot of good young players in the country, but most of our championships have been on the East Coast. This is our first time in the Sandhills and this site works well for us."
There were 29 girls competing at Little River, while 62 boys were involved in their division held at Longleaf Golf and Country Club. Both courses were designed by Dan Maples, a Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame architect.
"We've had some outstanding players over the years," Ringler said. "Morgan Pressel and Brittany Lincicome, both doing well on the LPGA Tour now, have played in this event. But it shows the strength of the field when neither of them ever won it. Another LPGA star, Nicole Perrott, won our first tournament."
Ringler had nothing but praise for Little River and Longleaf as he watched the junior shooting stars perform.
"The facilities are great," he said. "The girls really love it at Little River because they're staying right here and all they have to do is roll out of bed and go to the range. It's fabulous."
Stephanie Meadows certainly thought it was fabulous. The 16-year-old from Northern Ireland posted rounds of 67-70-74 for a 211 total that was two strokes better than runner-up Sarah Brown.
Meadow, who revealed that she had been putting in long hours at the practice range the past few weeks, held a five-shot lead entering the final round but saw that whittled to just two as Brown shot 70-72-71.
Things got a little dicey for Meadow when she bogeyed the 13th hole, then made double-bogey on 15.
"I knew I still had two shots to spare," she said to reporters. "I just said, 'Come on, you're not going to choke. You're just going to keep going.'"
The pressure eased somewhat when she hit a 9-iron approach to 10 feet on 16 and made birdie. Then she reached the difficult dogleg par-5 17th in two shots and two-putted for another birdie.
Meadow, who now lives in Hilton Head, S.C., with her parents, attends the International Junior School Golf Academy. She won the Irish Girls' Championship in 2006 and has won two IJGT events this year.
Josh Eure, a 17-year-old from Crofton, Md., won the boys' division at Longleaf by two strokes. But his win didn't come without a scare.
Opening rounds of 65-67 had given Eure an eight-shot lead over Anthony Aicher and he appeared headed for a runaway victory after his lowest 36-hole stretch ever. But a closing 73 put him at 205, and Aicher, who finished strong with 67, was at 211.
Eure came to Longleaf on a high, having won his second Maryland high school championship in the past three years. He and his father drove 350 miles overnight to reach Pinehurst, and he was determined to hang on.
Still nursing a five-shot lead after nine holes on Sunday, Eure watched as Aicher began making putts from everywhere to cut into his margin.
"I was thinking, 'Win by more,'" Eure told reporters. "When you think, 'Don't choke,' you're going to choke. I was trying to have the Tiger mentality -- bury them in the ground even more."
But Aicher wasn't going away.
"He started draining a lot of putts," Eure said. "I knew how close he was, but I just stuck to my game and made him have to beat me."
Eure wrapped up the win when he almost reached the par-5 17th in two shots, chipped close and made birdie.
Aicher was proud of his final-round challenge and took his third runner-up finish in a row philosophically after draining a 25-footer for birdie on the final hole.
"I'm not discouraged," he told reporters after making the putt. "I'm going back to Wisconsin and I'm not going to play another tournament for five months. So I wasn't going to leave that last putt short."
Some information for this article was provided by Golfweek online.
More like this story