Palmetto Dunes Jr. Open Hilton Head Island, SC Nov. 22-23

This week the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour visited Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Despite the island’s usually warm climate, this weekend threw a bit of rain and wind our way. The first day was cold in the morning but warmed up to in the afternoon.  With the wind blowing at a steady 20 MPH most of the day, conditions where not ideal. Day two presented even more horrendous conditions. Rain was the headline during round two and did not stop until after the entire field finished. Per usual, the 91-player field was competing for Junior Golf Scoreboard Rankings and AJGA stars. In other news, the HJGT had a very special guest at the Palmetto Dunes Jr. Open. Zakki Blatt, a courageous, awe inspiring young man was part of the 91 player field this weekend. Blatt was born with a heart defect and suffered a severe stroke that wiped out half of his brain when he was just a month old. Other severe deformities are present in his lungs and immune system, making every day a challenge. He is thriving today through his strong will in conjunction with miracles of surgery and technology. Golf has always been there for him and it makes him happier then anything in the world. The HJGT feels extremely honored to have had him at our event. Never having played in a competitive event, Blatt made a remarkable debut and handled the rigorous conditions like a seasoned veteran. This was his first time playing in high winds and steady rain. Before he teed of on Saturday, he made it a goal of his to play all thirty-six holes, no matter what. Not only did he complete the thirty six-hole tournament, he did so with the utmost elegance and style. While numerous people were dropped out due to the rain, Blatt pushed onward through the day, laughing and enjoying his round of golf, something that apparently every other player was incapable of doing. Zakki has given a new meaning to the word “heart” and is an astute role model. Everyone could and should learn a few things from this young competitor, because the way in which he carries himself and lives his life is truly a joy to watch. The HJGT wishes him the very best in the future and hopes he continues playing out his passion for golf.   Boys 15-18

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In the Boys Division, Rowan Foxley out of the great state of Washington would be crowned this weekend’s champion with a two-day total of 154 (+14). It is no surprise that Mr. Foxley had no problem adapting to todays damp conditions. For competitors from Washington, playing in the rain is no foreign task. This showed in his play today as he shaved three shots off his round. He was one of two gentlemen to shoot the low round of the day, 75 (+5). It was a true grind for Foxely, but he showed a great amount of courage and will power. I am sure we will hear more about this young man in upcoming events. Coming in second place out of Longs, South Carolina is Daniel Graves. Graves thrived in the wind on day one shooting a solid 75 (+5). He was at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of the first round and was looking assert his dominance of the field during the round two. Despite his plans, the rain and wetness of the course were just too much for him to handle and he succumbed to the conditions. Graves gave it a valiant effort on the front nine but just could not hold it together for the entire eighteen holes. His finish of bogey, double, bogey cost him the gold. Despite, his scorecard, Graves had a great round given dampness of Palmetto Dunes. Placing in third and playing out of Mexico, was Hector Gutierrez. Consistency is what earned this man the bronze. Firing back-to-back rounds of 78 (+8), he was able to keep the storm at bay, and claw his way to third place finish. His one under back nine during round two is the ticket that boosted him up the leaderboard and into contention.   Boys 11 – 14

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In the Boys 11 – 14 Division, Bumin Choi out of Gyeonggi-do, South Korea will take home the gold with a two-day total of 153 (+13). Choi handled the breezy atmosphere of day one a little bit better than the wet conditions of day two.  During the first day of play, Choi was able to hit more quality shots and make more putts without the rain beating down. He danced his way to a round one 75 (+5) and a six shot lead over Hunter Layne. On Sundays round, the saturation of his clothes and the golf course made for a much more interesting day. It was tough and grueling but Choi was able to make some birdies and earn first place honors. Placing in second out of St. Augustine, Florida was Hunter Layne with a two-day total of (+25). Layne simply made one too many mistakes to keep pace with Choi. Some large numbers in both the first and second round created various blemishes on his scorecard. A lack of birdies in round two did not help gain him any ground either. But Layne did manage to eliminate several mistakes and by doing so, earned him second place honors. Coming in third place was Brandon McBride out of Bluffton, South Carolina with a two-day total of 166 (+26). Nearly stealing the silver right out from under Layne, McBride shot himself in the foot with a devastating double on the last hole of the second round. Without this misfortune, McBride would have found himself higher on the podium. Nonetheless, he was able to battle the golf course more efficiently and effectively then the majority of the field so he should not be too disappointed in the outcome.   Girls 15 – 18

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In the Girls Division, local wonder Anita Uwadia was declared the winner of the Palmetto Dunes Jr. Open with a two-day total of 163 (+23). Carding a birdie and many pars during day one of play, she concluded round one with a graceful 79 (+9). Uwadia had a four shot lead going into the second round, providing her with a little cushion and room for mistakes. Apparently this was just the amount of room she needed, as she narrowly escaped with a one shot victory. Her round two finish almost did her in, but she persevered under the tough conditions and pulled out a win for the home team. Coming in second place with a two-day total of 164 (+24) is Kayla Kozak out of Bluffton, South Carolina. Kozak was inches from a win today but just could not find the edge needed to surpass Uwadia. Even a very solid second round of 81 (+11) was not enough to giver her the upper hand. She handled the conditions like a pro and is much deserving of second place honors. Placing in third out of Lyons, Georgia is Layne-Marie Carter with a two-day total of 166 (+26). Carter also nearly swiped the gold from Uwadia. Just three shots behind, Carter need something special to happen in round two in order for her to gain on her playing competitors. Unfortunately she was unable to find what she was looking for and had a rough time putting together a good round. Her three costly doubles and a triple inhibited her from obtaining victory today. All these girls played incredible  golf this weekend, through one of the worst rainstorms the tour has seen. Congratulations to these players.   Weather:   Saturday: Mostly sunny. Windy.   Sunday: Rain. Lots of rain.   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 four age divisions: Boys 15-18, Boys 11-14, 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, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, and Connecticut. For more information regarding the HJGT 2014 Tour, please visit our website at www.hjgt.org, call the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour headquarters at (904) 379-2697, or email info@hjgt.org.

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