Valdosta Junior Open – February 21-February 22, 2015
Van Meter edges out win while Stilwell nabs Hole in One Brake survives in playoff
(February 22, 2015) The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT) had Georgia on its mind as it visited Kinderlou Forest Golf Club for the 2015 Valdosta Junior Open over the weekend. The competition was as fierce as the winds, as blustery conditions marred play on Saturday. This was short-lived however, as fair conditions took over on Sunday, giving way to a beautiful morning and afternoon for the event’s epic conclusion.
Mark Nauert of Valrico, Florida won the Boys’ 15-18 Division. Nauert was especially impressive on Sunday, grabbing three birdies on the afternoon whilst shooting a 73, +1 on the afternoon. Nauert’s first two birdies on Sunday came back-to-back on holes four and five, this after being plagued by a double bogey and a bogey on holes two and three. He finished with four total for the tournament. Nauert’s +9 overall was enough to hold off the play of Logan Perkins, Jordan Long, Will Bozeman, and Jordan Walker. Long, Bozeman, and Walker all finished tied for third with 159’s overall for their weekend scores. Logan Perkins’ 157, +13 total was four strokes behind Nauert’s winning total, as he could not thrust himself to the winning spot despite a 74 on Sunday including two birdies on the front nine.
Standing out amongst the array of great play was one memorable moment occurring on Sunday morning. Chelsea Stilwell, a native of Newberry, Florida and part of the Girls’ 15-18 Division picked up an awesome accolade on the fifth hole. Raring back, Stilwell clobbered her ball onto the green off the tee, and sunk the shot into the cup for a dramatic Hole in One. Elated, Stilwell celebrated the achievement with her family who, along with other nearby spectators, let out an ovation as they watched the eventful moment unfold. The Sunshine State native finished the tournament +33 with a +14 on Sunday afternoon, shooting a combined 177 with an 86 in the final round. Stilwell had the flair for the dramatic, but the chase for the division’s championship provided its own theatrics as well. After round one scores of 83, Hallianne Hobson held a share of first place with Kayla Smith. Bowling Green, Kentucky’s Casey Van Meter was on the outside looking in with a first round 90, sitting tied for fourth along with Cumming, Georgia native Allie Fletcher. Sunday, the script was flipped. While Fort Myers, Florida’s own in Hobson nearly shot the same score as she did on Saturday, shooting an 85, +13 on the day, Van Meter went on with a furious rally to overtake Hobson and edge out a win by just one stroke. Van Meter’s clutch 77, +5 mark propelled her to victory in her division, finishing with a 167, +23 overall while Hobson sat on a +24, 168 figure. Casey’s two birdies in round two and three birdies total were the most of any girl in her division over the course of the tournament.
Drama did not discriminate in the Valdosta Junior Open. The Boys’ 13-14 Division Championship came down to a sudden death playoff round, and Green Cove Springs, Florida’s own Arden Brake snuffed out his fellow competitors’ chances of winning with his win on Sunday afternoon. Brake’s +7, 151 was knotted up with Sam Barrett’s, and after going head-to-head, it was Brake who emerged victorious. Brake had three birdies including two on the front nine on Sunday afternoon, and left the Valdosta Jr. Open with five total throughout the weekend. Barrett, meanwhile, amassed two with one on each day. Meanwhile, Culloden, Georgia resident Will Chambless had the best round of the day with a -2, 70 that included a remarkable five birdies in the round on Sunday. Chambless’ ferocious run on Sunday wasn’t able to overtake his struggles on Saturday, where he shot an 85, which effectively thwarted him with a +13 tally. Chambless finished with a 155, +11 two day total.
The state of Georgia was well represented in the winners’ circle as two champions came from The Peach State. Blackshear resident Sloan Lanier’s weekend total of 167, with an 81 on Sunday, catapulted her to a win amongst the field in the Girls’ 11-14 Division. Lanier tallied three birdies over the weekend, including one on the second hole on Sunday. Lanier left her fellow competitors in the dust, winning by seven strokes over runner-up Megan Schofill of Monticello, Florida. Amelia Williams, Gainesville, Florida native, couldn’t make like her hometown Gators and chomp her way to a win but after finishing second in last week’s 54 Hole Shootout at Fleming Island, she picked up her second appearance on the podium in as many weeks and third of the 2015 season. Williams had one birdie during the tournament, coming on Hole 11 on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Georgia nabbed a win with Payne Elkins’ win in the Boys’ 11-12 Division. Elkins, a Valdosta native, enjoyed his home cooking with a second round 79, +7 including a birdie on Hole 17, finishing his weekend with a total of 163, +19. Elkins finished with two birdies throughout his stay in the Valdosta Jr. Open. Interestingly enough, both were on the Par 3 Hole 17. Elkins’ 163 bested fellow Peach State resident Jensen Rainey, who battled along for the entire weekend with his adversary. Rainey led through the first nine holes 37-40, and after the two were tied on Saturday, it appeared that Rainey was going to swipe away the win from the hometown kid. Elkins would not be denied as he shot a 39 on the next nine holes while Rainey found trouble and finished with a 47 on his last nine holes, despite shooting a birdie on the eighth hole. Rainey, too, had two birdies of his own, with one on each day much like his foe. Weather: Day 1- Low of 45 to high of 70, Sunny, winds 15-25 MPH Day 2- Low of 55 to high of 75, Partly Cloudy, winds 10-15 MPH Tournament Yardages: Boys 15-18-6640 yards Boys 13-14, 11-12- 6093, 5457 yards Girls 15-18, 11-14- 5457, 5085 yards About us: The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour (HJGT) was founded in 2008 with the intent 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 2015 HJGT Tour, please visit our website at www.hjgt.org, call the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour headquarters at (904) 379-2697, or email firstname.lastname@example.org