ALVATON, Ky. – Jace Long of Dixon, Mo., carded 3-under-par 69 Thursday to finish at 2-under-par 214 to win the Boys Division of the Houchens Industries Junior Open at The Club at Olde Stone. Daffodil Sanchez of Mesa, Ariz., recorded 10-over-par 82 to pick up the win in the Girls Division, finishing at 18-over-par 234 for the tournament.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Houchens Industries Junior Open was a 54-hole stroke play event held at The Club at Olde Stone. The final-round was an 18-hole shotgun event. The tournament field consisted of 73 boys and 24 girls from 18 states. The Boys Division was played from 6,787 yards and the Girls Division at 5,799 yards.
Long went wire-to-wire for all three rounds, but never let the thought of winning overpower his play. Long said he grew more confident in his game in the final round, after he started with a five foot putt to save par on No. 1 followed by a 60 foot putt on No. 4. Long had an eagle on No. 11 and three birdies during the final round to lead him to victory. He said he felt like the course was coming to him.
“Going into today, I felt a little bit of pressure, but I like the pressure,” Long said. “I could feel my heart beating, but I never thought I had it in the bag. I had great competition to keep me going and focused.”
Rounding out the Boys Divison, Joe David of Madison, Tenn., finished second after recording a three-day total of 2-over-par 218. Finishing in third was Joseph Barr of Versailles, Ky., at 4-over-par 220. In fourth Benjamin Cohen of Pittsburgh, Pa., carded 5-over-par 221. Jay Mulieri of Silver Spring, Md., finished fifth with 7-over-par 223.
In the Girls Divison, Sanchez stuck to her motto, “build a bridge and get over it” and earned her first AJGA tournament win. Sanchez started on No. 10 with a bogey, but was able to rebound with a birdie on No. 12. Sanchez got a little too aggressive off the No.1 and 2 tees and wound up carding two double-bogeys, but bounced back by carding two birdies on Nos. 5 and 6.
“I got a little nervous because I realized it was the last nine of the tournament,” Sanchez said. “Once I got over that, I calmed down and got back to my game plan of just hitting fairways and greens. I wasn’t really focused on winning.”
Aimee Neff of Carmel, Ind., and Emma Talley of Princeton, Ky., finished in a tie for second after posting 22-over-par 238s for the tournament.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 countries.
Titleist, the AJGA’s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association’s success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA’s second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.