FOUR JUNIOR GOLFERS CROWNED CHAMPIONS OF THE OPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Four junior golfers walked away with title of champion of the 2008 Optimist International Tournament
of Champions. On a windy and cool November day in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida,
90 golfers from 20 states, three Canadian provinces and seven other countries
took on PGA National Resort and Spa's Champion course, home of the PGA TOUR's
Honda Classic. After an unseasonably warm day during round 1, a cold front pushed
through South Florida and temperatures dipped into the low 50s at the start of
play. But the temperatures rebounded into the 70s and so did the junior golfers'
play on "The Champ."
In the Boys 16-18 division, a fantastic finish by Andrew Cho of Howey-in-the-Hills,
Florida, helped him recover to take the title with 72-74-146 (+2) total. Just
as he had done in the first round, Cho started his second round with a birdie
on the back nine's opening hole. Cho followed up the great start with six pars
in a row until stumbling with an equal number of bogeys on holes eight through
13. The string of consecutive bogeys dropped him out of the lead. But a stellar
finish on the front nine, including birdies on six, eight and nine, vaulted him
back to the top of the leaderboard. Cho outlasted Daniel Berger (Jupiter, Florida)
and Nicolas Reach (Moscow, Pennsylvania) who finished second and third at +4 and
The Girls 14-18 division included a trio of talented junior golfers taking on
the difficult Champion course. Starting three back of Suzie Lee of East
Northport, New York, another New York native, Annie Park, knew what she needed
to do. Park, of Levittown, started her round with a birdie on the first hole and
added three more to offset three bogeys on each side. She finished the tournament
at 77-74-151 (+7), one ahead of Stephanie Meadow of Jordanstown, Ireland (+8),
and two in front of round-one leader Lee (+9).
In the Boys 14-15 division, Quinlan Prchal of Glenview, Illinois, and Clancy Waugh
of North Palm Beach, Florida, battled the back nine of the Champion course, but
the tournament could not be decided without going to extra holes. Waugh put together
a solid even-par back nine, including a birdie on the difficult par-four 16th.
But Prchal, who struggled early on the back nine, finished with four straight
pars to stay even with Waugh. The sudden-death playoff took four extra holes to
decide with both players making pars on 10, 17 and 18. Prchal broke through on
the par-five 10th by sinking a five foot birdie putt to take the Boys 14-15 title.
Both players finished the Tournament of Champions at +6 while Lucas Kim (Toronto,
Ontario) finished three back at +9.
Katlyn Kennedy of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, improved 15 shots from round 1 to
finish 96-81-177 in the Girls 13 & Under division. Samantha Spencer (Georgetown,
Ontario) finished in second with a 94-93-187.
WORDS OF APPRECIATION
Some comments received from Tournament of Champions golfers and parents...
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to participate
in the Optimist Junior Golf Tournament of Champions last week. The experience
was exceptional and I will carry the memories for a long time. Thank you
so much for your efforts which allow so many junior golfers to take part in
such a wonderful event.
--Jocelyn Thompson (girls 14-18 division)
Thank you for putting on such a well run event. The number of volunteers
helping with the tournament was very impressive. The event was well organized
and run efficiently.
--Keith Kennerly (parent)
Thank you and all of the Optimist members for taking the time to put on
such a great tournament. The Optimist tournament, to me, is my favorite and
I always look forward in competing and, hopefully, winning one year.
The one thing that stands out is how nice all of the Optimist members and
I hope to one day to give back. Thanks again. I look forward to
seeing you in the summer.
--Gabriella DiMarco (girls 14-18 division)
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to you for affording both
our children, Mandela and Monifa Sealy, the opportunity to play in the Optimist
Tournament of Champions. The challenges posed by the tough and prestigious
Champions Course will no doubt be a plus in their golf development. We
also wish to thank all committee members and volunteers who made us feel most
welcome during the event. Best of luck to Optimist International in the
future. Kindest regards.
--The Sealy Family (boys 16-18 and girls 14-18 divisions)
2008-09 JUNIOR GOLF COMMITTEE
The 2008-09 Committee for the Optimist Junior Golf Program has been named. Optimist
International President Don Sievers has appointed former Optimist International
Vice President Wes Norris (Bonita Springs, Florida) as Chairman. The three other
members of the Committee are Judy Morris (Derby, Kansas), John Reel (Plainfield,
Indiana) and J.C. St-Onge (St-Jerome, Québec). Hugh Cranford (Charlotte,
NC) continues his role as Committee Member Emeritus.
The Optimist Junior Golf Committee is responsible for the overall coordination and
operation of Optimist Junior Golf international events in addition to setting
all policies and procedures for the Optimist Junior Golf Program.
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS TO MOVE TO NEW HOME IN 2009
Optimist International is moving the Tournament of Champions to a new venue in
2009. Orange County National
Golf Center & Lodge in Winter Garden, Florida (Orlando area) will host
the 5th Annual Optimist International Tournament of Champions, November 7-8, 2009.
Orange County National has two of the finest championship courses in Orlando.
As host site of the 2009 PGA TOUR's Q-School Finals a few weeks after the Tournament
of Champions, Orange County National will be in ideal condition. The Tournament
of Champions will take place on the Crooked Cat course.
Participants and guests will have the opportunity to stay in the on-site lodge,
just footsteps away from the clubhouse, golf courses and one of the largest practice
facilities in the world. Three age divisions will be offered: Boys 16-18,
Boys 14-15 and Girls 14-18. A golfer's division will be based on his/her
age as of November 7, 2009).
Stay tuned for more information.
DON'T FORGET TO SUBMIT YOUR TOURNAMENT LOGISTICS FORM
The deadline to submit 2009 District tournament information to Optimist International
is January 30. Please make sure we have the most up-to-date information on record
about your District tournament. To download a copy of the District Tournament
Logistics Form, click
If you do not submit your 2009 tournament information by January 30, your District
will be classified as an "At Large" District. This means junior golfers
who live in your District will be required to travel to another District's qualifier
(ages 14-15 & 16-18) or will be able to apply for the championships through
the "At Large" application process (ages 10-11 & 12-13).
Thank you to all District Chairs who have already submitted their tournament information.
THE INAUGURAL OPTIMIST GOLF PARENT-CHILD CLASSIC
Optimist International is pleased to announce the inaugural Optimist Golf Parent-Child
Classic, a fun new Optimist Golf event for two-player teams consisting of a junior
golfer and his/her parent, grand parent, or uncle/aunt. The event, scheduled for
December 5-6, 2009, will be open to Parent/Child teams in three separate age divisions:
16-18, 14-15 and 13 & under. Disney's
Lake Buena Vista Golf Course will serve as the host venue. Discounted hotel
offers at Walt Disney World® Resort will be available.
This 36-hole event will utilize one day of "best ball" play and one
day of "modified alternate shot" play. Yardages will be adjusted by
age and gender. Parents and children of all abilities will be invited to come
together to celebrate their relationship while competing in this unique new event
on the junior golf circuit. The tournament will be promoted to junior golfers
who have participated in past Optimist Junior Golf events, but will also be open
to the general public.
Stay tuned for more information.
QUALIFYING METHOD REMINDER
By now, you should be familiar with the qualifying method that began in 2008. The
method provides Districts with a set number of qualifying spots for each of
the age divisions offered in its qualifier. The number of qualifying spots are
determined in advance based on the number of junior golfers who participated
in that District's qualifier in the summer prior. If you have not already done
so, please read through the 2009 District Manual and other information sent
to you earlier this year.
Based on comments from District Chairs, we are not including the number of qualifying
spots on the qualifier entry forms or website this year. Please be prepared
to provide this information when golfers and parents contact you. We are
also including standard statements about the qualifying method, out-of-District
golfers and financial assistance provided on all District qualifier web pages
and entry forms. These statements will read as follows:
A limited number of golfers in each division will advance to the international
championships provided they shoot the minimum qualifying score. Please check
with the District Chair for details.
A maximum of one (1) golfer from outside of the District is permitted to qualify
per division. If a golfer who lives outside of the District qualifies, his/her
participation will not eliminate a District resident from qualifying.
Optimist Districts and Clubs provide financial support for winners to attend
the international championships. The amount of financial support provided and
the age divisions covered varies by District. Please check with the District
Chair for details. There is no guarantee that financial support will be provided
to golfers who travel outside of their home District.
If you have questions about the qualifying method, please contact the Optimist
Junior Golf office at email@example.com
or 800-500-8130, ext. 209.
Congratulations to all of you who were involved in making the 2008 Tournament of Champions a success!
We always get plenty of feedback from the participants and their families and
this year was no exception. Players continue to compliment us on all the great
work that the volunteers do both on and off the golf course. The Tournament of
Champions, while small in comparison to the summer championships, continues to
get great support from our membership. Thanks again for all you do for the program.
Moving forward to next summer, we have found a good formula to help ensure that
everyone stays onsite and we get all of the rounds started in the morning. For
those of you who have attended the championships during some of the rainy summers,
I know you will agree that this was an excellent change for everyone involved.
None of us like to shorten the championships because of weather. With the new
qualifying method and the cooperation of our District Chairs, we are able to complete
all tournament rounds before the typical South Florida afternoon thunderstorms.
The Junior Golf Committee and staff are always looking for ways to create a better
experience for the players and their families. This past summer, we brought in
USGA rules officials to work directly with our volunteer marshals. The program
worked very well! It allowed us to have a very good group of rules officials that
not only made rulings but also held a couple of rules clinics for our marshals
and got them directly involved with on-course rulings.
I had a chance to visit some other junior golf tournaments in the past few months.
It is always good to see how other organizations run their events, but I also
think they learn from us! I visited with some parents of junior golfers who have
played in Optimist events in the past and they were very complimentary of the
Optimist Golf program, especially the tireless work of our volunteers.
The summer event continues to grow in popularity around the globe. We continue
to get new countries applying for spots in the event. We are networking ourselves
around the world to make sure that kids everywhere have an opportunity to participate
at the local level.
The Optimist Junior Golf staff and Committee certainly appreciate all that you
do for the program. Please mark your calendars for the championships at PGA National
this summer, July 23-August 2. We will need more Optimist volunteers than ever
to continue to make the Optimist Golf program one of the best in junior golf!