Carolina Spring Challenge – March 14-15, 2015
Gutierrez siblings take home the gold Thompson dominates for her third win of the year
(March 15, 2015) The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT) traveled to Aiken, South Carolina on March 14-15 for the Carolina Spring Challenge at the Woodside Plantation Country Club. Players battled rain and wet course conditions on Saturday, but had an absolutely perfect day for the final round on Sunday, until all players finished 36 holes. Winners in each division will receive an exemption into the 2015 National Championship on December 5-6, 2015. All divisions were ranked by the Junior Golf Scoreboard. All divisions received South Carolina Junior Golf Association Heritage Points (SCJGA) and Tarheel Youth Golf Association Points (TYGA). Additionally, the top ten finishers in each division received points towards year-end honors including state teams, ALL HJGT teams and the Hurricane Cup. The top 3 in each division will receive an exemption into the 2015 Mid Season Invitational at Chateau Elan June 20-22, 2015.
After day one, Hector Gutierrez of Mexico and Colby Bradley of Graniteville, South Carolina, were tied atop the leaderboard with five players breathing down their necks, all within four strokes of the lead in the Boys 15-18 division. Sunday proved to be very exciting as it all came down to the last couple holes. While Gutierrez quickly regained his form from Saturday, Bradley slipped from contention. Coming into the fifteenth hole, Gutierrez held a one stroke lead over Salil Ghamande of Evans, GA, and a three stroke lead over Jonathan Phillips of Hardeeville, SC. Down the stretch the pressure was mounting. As a result, Ghamande responded with four straight bogeys to end his round, sealing the victory for Gutierrez as he was able to fend off both competitors when it mattered most. Gutierrez finished first with a 75, 75, 150. There was a tie for second place as Ghamande finished with a 76, 77, 153 and Phillips finished with a 77, 76, 153. Gutierrez only managed one birdie over the 36 holes however his consistency and dependable swing resulted in a field and tournament high 28 pars, seven more than his next closest competitor. At one point, Gutierrez went an impressive 11 straight holes bogey free. Ghamande led the field with six birdies and also tied with Bradley for the longest birdie or better streak at two.
The Girls 15-18 division would see another championship performance from Cristina Gutierrez of Veracruz, Mexico, her second win of the year. Gutierrez, who is the sister of the Boys 15-18 winner Hector Gutierrez, finished Saturday as the division leader and would go on to spend all of Sunday in that same position until it was finished. Gutierrez finished with a line of 75, 75, 150, coincidentally the same line as her brother. Finishing in second place was Ella Woods of Saint Augustine, FL. Woods put up a line of 79, 79, 158. Coming in at third was Madison Branum of Lexington, SC. Not surprisingly, both Woods and Gutierrez finished tied for the lead in their field for most birdies with four. Gutierrez also led the field with the most pars with 22. What set her apart from the field was her ability to find success on the long holes. She led her field in scoring average on both par fours and par fives (4.1, 5.2). Woods went on to lead her field for scoring average on par threes (3.1) and also lead her field and the tournament with a birdie or better streak of three.
In the Boys 13-14 division, the end of the first round Saturday left Harry Jones of Augusta, GA in first place one stroke ahead of Whit Larlee of Aiken, South Carolina and two strokes ahead of Mark Long of Alpharetta, GA, setting up for a very tight and exciting round on Sunday. On Sunday, the first six holes would prove to be the deciding holes for these three. Long and Larlee would each open their round with bogeys or worse on at least four of their first six holes while Jones would finish the first six holes even. As Long drifted from contention, Jones would hold off Larlee as they battled through the remaining holes to clinch first place for himself. Jones’ finished with an 82, 79, 161. Larlee finished second with a line of 83, 80, 163 and Long finished third with an 84, 89, 173. Jones and Larlee would wind up tying for the lead with the most birdies in their field with three. Unsurprisingly, Jones led the field with the most pars with 17 and tied with Long for the longest bogey free streak of four holes.
The Girls 11-14 division saw Skylar Thompson of Buford, GA run away with first place here at the Woodside Plantation Country Club in Aiken, SC. This is the third tournament Thompson has won this year already. After ending Saturday with an 82 and six strokes ahead on the leaderboard, Thompson would come in Sunday with an aggressive approach and wind up extending her lead to 11 by the end of the final round. Thompson finished with an 82, 89, 171. Following up behind Thompson was Kendall Smith of Martinez, GA who clinched second place with an 88, 94, 182 and behind her was Mary Hunt Murray who finished in third with a 91, 93, 184. Thompson finished her 36 holes as the leader in her division with the most birdies (2), most pars (19), and the lowest par three and par four scoring average (3.2, 4.8). While Thompson averaged a 45.5 on the front nine holes (1.5 strokes more than Smith who averaged a 44), she averaged an impressive 40 on the back nine holes, six fewer strokes than Murray who averaged a 46.
The Boys 11-12 division came down to the wire. After an exciting Saturday round where the leader, Miles Patterson of Chicago, IL, finished with an 82 and two strokes ahead of Alex Colligan of Evans, GA, Sunday only had more drama in store for everyone. From the get go Sunday, Patterson, as he opened with a double bogey on his first hole and followed that with three straight bogeys. However, Patterson would gather himself later on to make a run for first. Throughout the round, Colligan was intent on “staying focused” and proved to be when he rattled off four straight pars to end his first nine holes. With 17 holes in the bag, the two came to their 18th hole (the par four 9th hole) with Colligan up just one stroke on Patterson. Patterson would par the hole, putting the pressure on Colligan to make a clutch putt to avoid a playoff scenario, and that is exactly what he would do as he rolled in a beautiful par to seal the comeback and the first victory of his career. Colligan finished first with an 84, 81, 165. Patterson finished second with an 82, 84, 166. Finishing in third was Josh McGee of Charlotte, NC with a line of 90, 89, 179. Weather: Day 1- Mid 50’s, rain in the morning, winds 0-5 MPH Day 2- Mid 70’s, partly cloudy, winds 0-5 MPH4 Tournament Yardages: Boys 15-18- 6,825 yards Boys 13-14-6,166 yards Girls 15-18, Girls 11-14- 5,598 yards About us: The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT) was founded in 2008 with the intention of providing junior golfers between the ages of 11-18 an opportunity to play exceptional courses in a competitive environment. Golfers who participate on the tour will compete in one of five age divisions: Boys 15-18, Boys 13-14, Boys 11-12, Girls 15-18, and Girls 11-14. Based out of Jacksonville, FL, the HJGT administers events all across the nation, with stops in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information regarding the HJGT, please visit our website at www.hjgt.org, call the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour headquarters at (904) 379-2697, or email email@example.com Experience #TheHurricaneDifference