Golf Bag: Decker, Park AJGA Champs
Andrew Decker, of Greenville, birdied the first playoff hole to defeat M.J. Maguire and clinch his first American Junior Golf Association victory at 1-under-par 215 at National Golf Club.
In the Girls’ Division, Ri Hyang Park, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., defended her Golf Pride Junior Classic title with a three-day total of 6-over-par 222.
The Golf Pride Junior Classic was a 54-hole stroke play event that featured 78 boys and 21 girls, ages 12-18, from 17 states, Mexico, Thailand and Italy.
Decker started the day three back of Chad Cox, of Charlotte, but took the lead at 3-under with a birdie on the par-4 11th. Cox picked up birdies at 15 and 16 to tie Decker at 1-under after Decker doubled No. 13.
On No. 17, Cox and Decker both left themselves difficult up-and-downs from off the green. Cox chipped up to 20 feet and missed his putt, but Decker followed by knocking down a 12-footer to save his par and retake the lead.
Decker split the fairway on 18 and hit his approach to 20 feet, all but sealing the victory after Cox followed by missing the green to the left. But his day was not yet over. Maguire, of St. Petersburg, Fla., earned a tie by firing 68 in the final round.
Standing on the first playoff hole, the par-5 10th, with Maguire, Decker's focus was simple.
“I was thinking, ‘just swing and don’t think,’” he said. “Turns out, I hit a pretty good drive and had 180 in. I wasn’t going to go for it because that wasn’t my plan from the beginning. So, I laid up left of the green as close as I could so that I could still hit a bump and run. I just wanted to give myself a chance.”
Decker left himself four feet for his birdie, while Maguire had to save a five-footer for par after hitting his tee shot into the water. Maguire missed and Decker holed his birdie putt.
Bryan Stewart, of Pinehurst, was at 236, with Zachary Martin, of Pinehurst, at 240.
After starting three shots off the pace, Park fought back to finish at 6-over-par 222 and win the girls’ title by two strokes over Chantakan Chanpalangsri, of Boca Raton, Fla.
U.S. Amateur: Michael McGowan, of Southern Pines, a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina, shot 68-72—140 to finish second in the U.S. Amateur qualifying event held at Anderson Creek Golf Club. He will compete in the Amateur at Chambers Bay, Wisc., Aug. 23-29.
N.C. Match Play: Payne McLeod, of Reidsville, used birdie runs on both the front and back nines and still needed a closing birdie to knock off Ryan Heisey, of Greensboro, in the inaugural North Carolina Amateur Match Play Championship held at the Country Club of Salisbury.
Payne made birdies on holes 3, 4 and 5 on the front, then birdied 13 through 16 on the back before closing out Heisey 1-up with a seven-foot birdie putt on 18.
Robert Riesen, of Pinehurst, who was the event’s qualifying medalist, lost to Preston Dembowiak of Summerfield in a first round match that went 19 holes.
Robert Hoadley, of Southern Pines, lost to Joe Mullen, of Wake Forest, in 19 holes.
CPGA Seniors: Gary Strickfaden, of Pinehurst, and Chuck Latham, of Whispering Pines, tied for the lead in their age divisions of the Carolinas PGA Senior Championship held at Legends Golf & Resort in Myrtle Beach. Strickfaden shot 72-74—146 in the 63-up bracket, while Latham shot 75-70—in the 59-62 division.
Amateur Tours: Craig Sturdivant, of Sanford, just keeps on piling up wins on the Senior Amateur Tour. Despite a three-putt mishap from six feet on the final hole, Sturdivant shot 70 and finished three strokes ahead of Terry Collins, of Pinehurst, in the Champion-ship Flight of the event held at Bryan Park in Greensboro.
Tom Kubla, of Pinehurst, shot 78 to tie for fourth place in Flight B.
Johnny Morgan, of Kernersville, shot 73 to win the Championship Flight of the eGolf Amateur Golf event held at Bryan Park. Kubla shot 81 to finish third in Flight B.
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