LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – Sabino High School senior Billy Comeaux came from five-strokes down in the final round last weekend to win the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) Arizona Open at Wigwam Golf Resort.
Held on the beautiful Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed Gold Course, the IJGT Arizona Open featured 60 elite junior golfers ages 9-19 representing 17 states and Washington D.C., as well as Canada and Colombia. Juniors battled for the title as well as IJGT Merit Points and national recognition over the two-day, 36-hole Event.
The Boys 15-19 Division came down to the wire on Sunday. Christopher Korte of Highlands Ranch, Colo., led the division heading into the final round after carding a 3-under-par 69 in the first round. Korte was awarded the KENTWOOL Socks Lo-Pro Award for his exceptional performance Saturday.
Just behind him was Li Chen of Westminster, Colo., who carded a 2-under-par 70. Hot on Chen's heals were Johnathan Hudson of Western Springs, Ill., and Sean Carlon of Albuquerque, N.M. Both came in with an even-par 72 after the first round. In fact, 11 juniors carded a 74 or lower in the first round.
It was anyone's title heading into the final round. Comeaux, who this past fall won the Division II individual state championship, climbed to the top of the pack with an exceptional final round. Comeaux began the round five strokes off the lead after carding a 2-over-par 74 in the first round. He started out with an eagle on No. 1, the confidence boost he needed to propel him to victory.
"It felt good to get an eagle right away," Comeaux said. "That helped."
Comeaux carded one bogey on the front nine, but got back to 2-under with a birdie on No. 7. He did not give up the fight there. Comeaux headed to the back nine where he made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12. With only one back-nine bogey on No. 13, he headed into the clubhouse with a 3-under-par 69 scorecard in hand; enough to seal his victory and the Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award.
"I was nervous going into the Event," Comeaux said. "I have been in a bit of a slump so it is great to get back to the game I know I can play."
Even with his phenomenal final-round score, Comeaux only won the Event by one stroke. Brothers, Johnathan and Daniel Hudson of Western Springs, Ill., and first-round leader Korte finished in a three-way tie for second place carding even-par 144 for the tournament.
It was no blowout in the Boys 14 & Under Division either. Remington Hirano of Honolulu, took an early lead in the division carding a 4-over-par 76 in the first round. His closest competitor was William Sheedy of Washington, D.C., who was four strokes back heading into the final round.
But Sheedy came in to Saturday's final round looking for a comeback:"I was a little nervous trailing the leader coming into today's round," Sheedy said. "I was confident that if I just played my own game I would have a shot at the title."
Sheedy had a mere four bogeys on the day to bring him into the clubhouse with a 4-over-par 76, propelling him to a 12-over-par tournament total, winning the Event by a single stroke.
"I worked a lot on my short game [before the tournament]," he said. "It really helped my game – I had a lot of up-and-down par saves."
Hirano finished the Event in second place carding 13-over-par 157. Griffin Cooper of Yerington, Nev., took home third place with a tournament total of 20-over-par 164.
The Girls Division played unlike any other this weekend, as Natalia Forero of Cali, Colombia ran away with the title. Forero was awarded the KENTWOOL Socks Lo-Pro Award for her first-round 2-over-par 74, but started the final round with Haylin Harris of Tucson, Ariz., hot on her heals with a 5-over-par 77 in the first round. Forero and Harris both took to the 6,014-yard Gold Course looking for a victory in the final round.
On Saturday Forero jump-started her round with a birdie on the difficult par-5 1st hole. From there, Forero made five consecutive pars and another birdie on No. 7 – carding a 2-under-par 34 to start.
Forero was looking for a perfect round but found a bogey on No. 12. She rebounded quickly with birdies on No. 13 and No. 17 to seal her tournament victory and the Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award with 3-under-par 69. Shattering her competition, Forero finished 1-under-par 143 for the tournament.
"I made some great putts that helped me through the round," Forero said. "I had made a really great par when I was hitting from under a tree and that helped me keep my streak going."
Harris finished the event in second place for the Girls Division carding 12-over-par 156 for the Event. Bria Jansen of Cochrane, Canada finished in third place with a 14-over-par 158.
The IJGT will make the next southeast tournament stop at Duke University Golf Club for The College Classic at Duke University, April 6-7. A Robert Trent Jones Sr. design, the University Golf Course features meandering streams and towering pines. Duke University Golf Course will challenge even the best golfers testing their shot placement and accuracy around the green.
Boys 15-19 Division (Black Tees) Yards: 6,922, Par 72
1. Billy Comeaux, Tucson, AZ *74-69--143
2. Daniel Hudson, Western Springs, IL *73-71--144
2. Christopher Korte, Highlands Ranch, CO *69-75--144
2. Johnathan Hudson, Western Springs, IL *72-72--144
5. Sean Carlon, Albuquerque, NM *72-76--148
5. Brett Pasula, Red Deer, AB *73-75--148
5. Li Chen, Westminster, CO *70-78--148
8. Ryan Tanner, Tucson, AZ *79-70--149
8. Sam McKay, Scottsdale, AZ *76-73--149
10. Carter Irwin, Dove Canyon, CA *74-76--150
11. Hayden Nicholaides, Englewood, CO *76-75--151
11. James Russo, Scottsdale, AZ *74-77--151
11. Daniel Starzinski, Phoenix, AZ *75-76--151
14. Riley Elmes, Lake Oswego, OR *78-74--152
14. Austin Glendinning, Goodyear, AZ *79-73--152
14. Griffin Peters, Fountain Hills, AZ *77-75--152
17. Thomas Avant, Chandler, AZ *80-73--153
17. Ian Hardesty, Chardon, OH *78-75--153
17. David Tottori, Las Vegas, NV *73-80--153
20. Chris Meyers, Oro Valley, AZ *79-75--154
20. Hayden Plewe, Cortez, CO *75-79--154
20. Colton Estevez, Phoenix, AZ *76-78--154
20. Trevor Lampson, Gilbert, AZ *74-80--154
24. Charlie Hughes, Boise, ID *78-77--155
25. Trueman Park, Chandler, AZ *81-75--156
26. Aubrey Mackenzie, Poulsbo, WA *81-76--157
27. Jack Savage, Scottsdale, AZ *84-74--158
28. J.T. Bloomer, Boise, ID *84-76--160
28. Jackson Whisenhunt, Phoenix, AZ *80-80--160
28. Colton Gage, Vail, AZ *81-79--160
31. Riley Schank, Anthem, AZ *84-78--162
32. Joey Goryeb, Morristown, NJ *87-76--163
32. Connor Nam, Scottsdale, AZ *79-84--163
34. Gary Baker, Cornviile, AZ *84-80--164
34. Nick Singpradith, Phoenix, AZ *83-81--164
36. Cedric Young, South Jordan, UT *82-83--165
36. Henry Roden, Paradise Valley, AZ *81-84--165
38. Mitchell Kontak, Toledo, OH *88-78--166
38. Josh Nadler, Chandler, AZ *87-79--166
40. Nathan Corrin, Moose Jaw, Canada *87-82--169
41. Garrett deFisser, Gilbert, AZ *83-87--170
41. Kevin Yu, Chandler, AZ *82-88--170
43. Andew Brown, Calgary, Canada *88-84--172
44. Cade Mayer, Surprise, AZ *90-83--173
45. Aidan McDermott, Pleasantville, NY *88-86--174
46. Lucas Peterson, Albert Lea, MN *93-85--178
Girls Division (Red Tees) Yards: 6,014, Par 72
1. Natalia Forero, Cali, Colombia *74-69--143
2. Haylin Harris, Tucson, AZ *77-79--156
3. Bria Jansen, Cochrane, Canada *78-80--158
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