The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour traveled to the one and only Pinehurst Golf Resort in Pinehurst, N.C. for the Pinehurst Junior Shootout. The history behind the courses at Pinehurst awe golfers of all shapes and sizes. Hosting more single championships than any golf course in America, golf is just as much to these grounds as the pines themselves. Home to the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open championships in 2014, Pinehurst is one of the most celebrated courses in the U.S. and worldwide. The juniors this weekend got to experience the thrill of playing on these historic courses. The HJGT could not have asked for better weather in January than what unfolded at Pinehurst. A sudden death playoff capped a great weekend of golf.
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Jack Dickson[/caption] The Boys 16-18 division race was a nail-biter until the end, with the eventual winner Jack Dickson coming up clutch to edge the competition by one. Dickson of Oldsmar, Fla., trailed by one stroke entering Sunday’s final round to Ryan Budahazy. As Sunday trudged on, a four-legged race between Dickson, Zander McCall, Clayton Miller, and Alex Degenstein brewed. Dickson won by shooting a two-round total of 158 (+14), McCall and Miller finished second and third by posting 159 (+15) and 160 (+16), respectively. Degenstein ended up with a 160 total, but came one putt short of a third place tie. Twelve competitors showed out this weekend and all put forth a great effort. Dickson came through with 11 pars and one birdie on Sunday to capture the win. McCall, from Statesville, NC, drained 11 pars as well, but failed to make a birdie in the final round to force a playoff. Miller, based out of Arcola, Ill., totaled 8 pars and one birdie to fall short of the title, but still managed a third place trophy.
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Cade Hancock[/caption] The Boys 14-15 division crown went to Cade Hancock, out of Elizabethtown, N.C. Hancock notched three birdies and made nine pars in the final round to secure the victory. Coming into Sunday, Hancock was tied for the lead but stayed true to his game and shot a cool 76 to surge up to the top of the leaderboard. Hancock shot an impressive 153 (+9) for the weekend event. Liam Boyle, from Baldwin, N.Y. placed second after shooting a great final round of 76. Draining 3 birdies as well on Sunday gave him a chance, but Saturday’s result was his ending. Boyle posted a 155 (+11) overall. Austin Steckler, from Glen Arm, Md., landed in third place to take that trophy. A consistent day helped Steckler stay in contention, but no big putts fell in to put him over the top. A total of 157 (+13) was Steckler’s end result, solid, but just wasn’t enough to take down the champion.
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Kiira Rihijarvi[/caption] The Girls 14-18 division featured a runaway winner, Kiira Rihijarvi. Entering Sunday’s final round, Rihijarvi owned a three-shot lead over eventual second-place winner Sophia Kalusche and exploded for a dominating performance in round two. Kiira shot a competition (all divisions included) low total of 152 (+8) en route to victory. Rihijarvi scored four birdies and banged home an impressive 23 pars during the entire event. She had the lead early and never looked back. She played very well at a resort where nearly all of golf’s greats have set foot. Sophia Kalusche, from Rome, Ga., played well and stuck with the champ throughout day one, but couldn’t keep up with the pace in day two. Knocking down three birdies and 16 pars, Kalusche did all she could to stay in contention. Sophia shot an impressive 162 for the event. Third place went to Hannah Conroy, out of Cheswick, Pa. She stuck with her game, but was no match for Rihijarvi. Too many bogeys and double bogeys were her downfall as she set herself too far behind to catch up. Posting a total of 183 for the shootout helped her finish in third.
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Ryan Marci[/caption] The Boys’ 11-13 age division posted several nice scores over the course of 36 holes, but in the end, it took an extra hole to decide the winner. Ryan Marci, from Wake Forest, N.C. went to a sudden death playoff with Carson Bacha, out of York, Pa. Both played well throughout the day to eventually overtake the Saturday leader and third-place finisher, Kareem Elkassem, from Raleigh, N.C. A playoff was needed to make Marci the winner. Marci needed just one hole to beat Bacha and take home the trophy. Marci and Bacha shot a total of 157 (+13) to force the playoff. Elkassem came into Sunday with a four-stroke lead, but faltered due to the strong play from his counterparts and eventually shot a two-day total score of 161. Impressive scores helped showcase the play from this division. Marci had a division high five birdies, but Bacha had the most pars with 21. Strong back nines for both the leaders kept the race interesting.
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Katherine Schuster[/caption] The Girls 13 and under age division featured only two girls, Emma Boyle and Katherine Schuster. Schuster, from Kill Devil Hills, N.C., claimed first place with strong play throughout and never letting her fellow competitor come close. Katherine took this division and ran with it, posting a 170 (+26) total, while Boyle came in behind with a 181 (+37) total. Boyle, from Baldwin, N.Y., tried her best to keep things close, but just couldn’t get over the hump. Schuster had the upper hand in pars, 13 to 10, and birdies, two to one, which led her to victory. Building a competitive, yet fun environment brought the best out of both competitors and a great match. Both girls showed sportsmanship as they cheered each other on throughout the entirety of the event.
Saturday: Mid 50s, Mostly Sunny, Winds 10-15 MPH
Sunday: Low 60s, Sunny, Winds 5-15 MPH
Boys 16-18- 6,685 YDS
Boys 14-15- 6,685 YDS
Girls 14-18/Boys 11-13- 5,696 YDS
Girls 13U- 5,696 YDS