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Three junior golfers earn big wins at 2010 Optimist International Tournament of Champions
November 1, 2010
Disney was magical for several junior golfers this past weekend at the sixth annual Optimist International Tournament of Champions on Disney’s Palm Golf Course at Walt Disney World.

Local golfer Harrison Winger of Orlando took first place in the boys 16-18 division. Winger had two eagles and three birdies in the first round on Saturday to go 6-under for the day with a 66. He continued to dominate in the second and final round with seven birdies and a 68 for the day. Winger finished with a 66-68—134, 10 under par and six strokes ahead of the competition. Coming in second was another local golfer, Taewan Lee of Howey in the Hills. Lee’s two-day score was 68-72—140, 4 under par. Lee, 15, was playing up in the oldest boys’ division. Finishing in a tie for third place were Miguel Solorzano (74-69—143) of Mexico, Sam Chun (73-70—143) of Howey in the Hills, and Gustavo Chuang (72-71—143) of Brazil.

In the boys 14-15 division, Evan Deroche of Key West shot a second-round 67 to take the championship. His two-day total was 75-67—142, two under par. Deroche has had strong showings at recent Optimist Junior Golf tournaments. He finished tied for first in the boys 14-15 division of this summer’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships but lost in the playoff. Deroche tied for third in the boys 14-15 division of the 2009 Tournament of Champions.

Coming in second in the boys 14-15 division of the 2010 event was Jonathan Newnham of St. Andrew, Jamaica. Newnham, who did not see a single bogey in round two, shot 69 on Sunday and finished with 74-69—143, just one stroke back. Starting the day in first place and finishing the tournament in third was Santiago Lopez Ureta of Mexico. Ureta’s two-day total was 73-72—145.

In the girls 14-18 division, Giovana Maymon of Mexico was the only girl to shoot under par for a round. Maymon shot a 71 on Sunday to jump from a tie for seventh to finish in first place. With a two-day 76-71—147, Maymon finished one stroke ahead of the field. Finishing in second place was Clara Teixeira of Brazil with 74-74—148. Two strokes back and coming in third was Regina Plasencia of Mexico with 74-76—150.

International field of junior golfers to compete in Optimist Tournament of Champions
October 14, 2010
Nearly 100 junior golfers will head to Walt Disney World this October to compete in the sixth annual Optimist International Tournament of Champions. Players will compete October 30-31 on Disney's Palm Golf Course.

This year's Tournament of Champions is a 36-hole, stroke-play invitational that will showcase some of the most talented young players in the world. Golfers from 20 states in the United States, two Canadian provinces and 14 other nations will compete in the sixth annual tournament, which will be ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfweek and is included in the AJGA Performance Based Entry process.

Forty-eight boys will compete in the boys 16-18 division; 24 boys will compete in the boys 14-15 division; and 24 girls will compete in the girls 14-18 division. All players will compete on Disney's Palm Golf Course. The course has a 4-star rating from Golf Digest and is one of the host courses of the Children's Miracle Network Classic, the longest-running PGA TOUR event in Central Florida.

Players were invited to apply for a spot in the tournament based on their performance in Optimist-sponsored tournaments and other leading tournaments on the junior golf circuit. The Optimist Junior Golf Program has made a name for itself over the past 16 years with the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships played each July at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. More than 650 players ages 10 to 18 compete in the event each year. Top players from the summer event and its qualifying tournaments, top players from the 2009 Tournament of Champions as well as leading players from other selected tournaments were extended invitations to apply for the Tournament of Champions. The top applicants were then accepted to compete.

In conjunction with the Junior Golf Scoreboard, Titleist Live!Scoring will regularly update scores throughout the Tournament of Champions. Tee times and complete playing fields will also be available. Viewers can keep updated about the tournament by going to www.juniorgolfresults.com and clicking on the tournament name.

Returning Champion Wins Second Straight Title at Optimist International Junior Golf Championships
Carbajo Re Brings Girls Title Home to Argentina
August 1, 2010
A.J. Crouch of Jacksonville, Florida, made things interesting in the final round but came out the champion at this week’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Crouch entered the day with a four-stroke lead but bogeyed three out of his first four holes as Sam Chun of South Korea made a birdie and caught up to his lead. Competition remained close throughout the day. One stroke behind entering the 18th hole, Crouch birdied the hole to force a playoff as Chun finished off 18 with a par.

It took three holes in a sudden-death playoff to determine the winner. On Champion 18 of the playoff, Chun found water, and Crouch made par to earn the 2010 championship title. Crouch finished the day with 69-69-71-74—283, and Chun placed second with 70-69-74-70—283, 5 under par.

Winning the boys 16-18 division in 2009, Crouch becomes the first repeat champion in the oldest boys division since the tournament began in 1995.

Finishing the day tied for third were Joshua Lee of Orange Park, Florida (69-74-75-69—287), Quinn Vilneff of Amherstburg, Ontario (67-75-72-73—287), and Tyler Wingo of Fairfax, Virginia (74-73-70-70—287).

In the girls 16-18 division, Manuela Carbajo Re of Argentina shot a 70 for the day to rearrange the leaderboard yet again as she nabbed the Optimist title. Carbajo Re’s four-day 74-71-77-70—292 put her two strokes ahead of the field. Shooting 75 for the day and placing second was Somin Lee of Denver, Colorado, with 78-69-72-75—294. Thailand’s Sarinee Thitiratanakorn came into the day with a 1-stroke lead but shot a 77 to take third place. Her four-day total was 76-71-71-77—295.

Returning Champion Takes Four-Stroke Lead Entering Optimist Championship Finals
July 31, 2010
A.J. Crouch of Jacksonville, Florida, shot a 1-under 71 for the day and now sits four strokes out in front heading into the final round of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Crouch has a three-day 69-69-71—209, 7 under par. A familiar name atop the Optimist leaderboard, Crouch was the boys 16-18 champion in 2009.

Three under par and in second place is Sam Chun of South Korea. He has a three-day 70-69-74—213. Quinn Vilneff of Amherstburg, Ontario, was even for the day. He enters the final round in third place with 67-75-72—214. Tyler Wingo of Fairfax, Virginia, shot a 2-under 70 today and enters the final round in fourth place with 74-73-70—217.

In the girls 16-18 division, Thailand’s Sarinee Thitiratanakorn shot a 1-under 71 for the day to move into the top spot. She is 2 over for the tournament with 76-71-71—218. One stroke back entering the final round is Somin Lee of Denver, Colorado. She has a three-day 78-69-72—219.

The leaders entering today’s play had a rough time on the course but remain in close contention. Venezuela’s Nicole Ferre, tied for first at the start of play today, shot a 76 and is 4 over par with 76-68-76—220. Tied for fourth and 4 strokes behind the leader are Regina Plasencia of Mexico with 70-74-78—222 and Manuela Carbajo Re of Argentina with 74-71-77—222. Plasencia was the co-leader entering the third round, and Carbajo Re was in third place.

The final round takes place tomorrow and features the top 50 boys plus ties and the top 35 girls plus ties. Scores, photos, news stories and tee times are updated daily throughout the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. Results are available under the tournament’s information at www.optimist.org/golf.

Junior Golfers Blast Their Way to Palmer Golf Long-Drive Championships
July 31, 2010
The power hitters were in the spotlight last night at the Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest Finals at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

In the boys 16-18 division, Jacksonville, Florida’s A.J. Crouch powered a 297-yard blast to take the top spot. Crouch also led the tournament after the second round on Friday. Just 15 yards behind Crouch with a 282-yard shot was David Mills of Evansville, Indiana. Rounding out the top three was Mariano Malmierca of Argentina at 276 yards. Other competitors in the boys’ division included Alejandro Garmendia of Venezuela; Quinn Vilneff of Amherstburg, Ontario; and David Wetterich of Cincinnati, Ohio.

In the girls 16-18 division, it was girls’ co-leader Regina Plasencia of Mexico who grabbed the long-drive title with a distance of 232 yards. Just six yards shy with a 226-yard shot was Shabril Brewer of Herndon, Virginia. Rounding out the top three at 214 yards was Taylor Fagan of Topeka, Kansas. Also competing in the girls’ division were Vanessa Bognot of Granada Hills, California; Mackenzi Turner of Shelbyville, Indiana; and Antonia Vinagre of Chile.

In addition to power off the tee, the Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest Finals included fun facts about each of the competitors and commentary by Optimist Junior Golf consultant Steve Feinstein. The golfers qualified for the finals during the Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest Preliminaries on designated holes during their practice rounds on Wednesday.

Arnold Palmer Golf Management operates more than 50 golf courses across the United States, including PGA National. In the spirit of the company's namesake, Palmer Golf strives for perfection on all of its courses, from course condition and service to pace of play and player development. For information about Palmer Golf, visit www.palmergolf.com.

Solid Rounds Boost Golfers to Top of Leaderboards at Optimist Championships
Last Year’s Winner Takes Lead in Boys Division
July 30, 2010
Last year’s champion, A.J. Crouch of Jacksonville, Florida, shot a 69 on the Champion for the second day in a row to take a 1-stroke lead in the boys 16-18 division of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. He has a two-day 69-69—138 and is 6 under par. Crouch will play the Palmer course on Saturday. Also shooting a 69 for the day and moving into second place is Sam Chun of South Korea. He has a two-day 70-69—139 and is just one stroke back.

Ontario’s Quinn Vilneff, who led after the first round, shot a 75 on the Champion today and falls to third with 67-75—142. Joshua Lee of Orange Park, Florida, is in fourth place with 69-74—143.

Rounding out the leaders are Hisyam Majid of Malaysia (71-74—145), Monte Mullen of Farmington, Connecticut (71-74—145) and Agustin Tarigo of Uruguay (73-72—145), all 1 over par and 7 strokes off the pace.

Over on the Haig, it was Nicole Ferre’s day as she shot a 68 in the girls 16-18 division to move into a tie for first place. This Venezuela golfer has a two-day 76-68—144. Now sharing the lead with a 74 for the day was Regina Plasencia of Mexico. Plasencia came into the day in sole possession of the top spot. She has a two-day 70-74—144 and is even for the tournament.

Manuela Carbajo Re of Argentina was 1 under for the day and is now in third place with 74-71—145. Three golfers are sitting three back and tied for fourth place – Somin Lee of Denver, Colorado (78-69—147), Sarinee Thitiratanakorn of Thailand (76-71—147) and Panitta Yusabai of Thailand (73-74—147).

Play continues tomorrow with round three, and then there will be a cut before the fourth and final round. The final round will feature the top 50 boys plus ties and the top 35 girls plus ties.

Junior Golfers Have Big First Rounds at Optimist International Junior Golf Championships
July 29, 2010
Junior golfers got down to business on the courses of PGA National today during the first round of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Golfers in the 16-18 age divisions battled the heat – not to mention some tough courses – but a number of golfers ended the day with impressive scores.

In the boys 16-18 division, Quinn Vilneff of Amherstburg, Ontario, made a name for himself with a 67 on the Palmer. Vilneff said it was the lowest score he’s ever had in a competitive round of golf. Just two strokes behind and finishing the day 3 under par were A.J. Crouch of Jacksonville, Florida, and Joshua Lee of Orange Park, Florida. Crouch was the boys 16-18 champion of the Optimist in 2009. Crouch and Lee both competed on the Champion course today.

In fourth with a 2-under 70 on the Champion was Sam Chun of South Korea. Rounding out the leaders and tied for fifth place after the first round were Hisyam Majid of Malaysia and Monte Mullen of Farmington, Connecticut, with 71. Majid and Mullen competed on the Champion today as well.

In the boys 16-18 division, competitors will play the Champion course twice and the Palmer course once before a cut. The fourth and final round will include the top 50 competitors, plus ties, and will be on the Champion course on Sunday.

In the girls 16-18 division, Mexico’s Regina Plasencia went 2 under for the day with a 70 to jump 3 strokes out in front of her competitors. One over and in a three-way tie for second were Taylor Newlin of Frisco, Texas; Fabiana Salazar of Venezuela; and Panitta Yusabai of Thailand. Yusabai was the girls 14-15 division champion of the 2009 Optimist.

Tied for fifth place with 74 for the first round were Chanya Angwarawong of Thailand and Manuela Carbajo Re of Argentina.

The girls compete in three rounds on the Haig course at PGA National before a cut after Saturday’s round. The top 35 girls, plus ties, will move on to the fourth and final round on Sunday.

Australia Golfers Team Up to Take First Place at Optimist Golf World Cup
July 27, 2010
David Hills of Bowral and Jake Mcleod of Townsville teamed up for today’s Optimist Golf World Cup and are taking a championship back home to Australia. The twosome had a 65 for the day on the Champion course at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and beat out Team South Africa in a sudden-death playoff to bring home the cup.

South Africa’s Shayne Allan of Weltevredenpark and Jay Dean Fourie of Pretoria also ended the tournament with 65 but couldn’t match Team Australia’s birdie on the first hole of the playoff.

Near the top throughout the day and coming in third was Team Uruguay. Federico Graglia and Agustin Tarigo, both of Montevideo, teamed up and ended the day with 66.

Junior golfers from 16 nations came together today for the Optimist Golf World Cup on the Champion course of PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The junior golfers, who are at PGA National to compete in this year’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, were selected to represent their nations in the event.

The Optimist Golf World Cup is a one-day, 18-hole tournament that features two-player teams in a better ball format. Competitors come from a wide range of age groups at the Optimist, from boys 10-11 to boys and girls 16-18. Nations represented included Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Results for the Optimist Golf World Cup are available by clicking here.

Sixteen Nations to Compete in Today’s Optimist Golf World Cup
July 27, 2010
Junior golfers from 16 nations will come together today for the Optimist Golf World Cup on the Champion course of PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The junior golfers, who are at PGA National to compete in this year’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, were selected to represent their nations in the event.

The Optimist Golf World Cup is a one-day, 18-hole tournament that will feature two-player teams in a better ball format. Competitors come from a wide range of age groups at the Optimist, from boys 10-11 to boys and girls 16-18. Nations represented include Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Optimist Championships End in Dramatic Fashion for Younger Age Divisions
July 26, 2010
Competition was so close at this week’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships that three of the six age divisions ended with sudden-death playoffs today on the courses of PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

For the boys 14-15 age division, three names were atop the leaderboard at the end of the final round. Evan Deroche of Key West, Florida (76-67-74—217), Nontaphat Hattakanont of Thailand (72-72-73—217) and Jake McBride of Hartville, Ohio (71-73-73—217), battled it out in a playoff, with McBride coming out the champion.

In the girls 14-15 division, Daniela Darquea of Ecuador (76-72-72—220) and Andrea Unson of Philippines (73-71-76—220) were neck and neck on the Haig course. On the second playoff hole, Darquea missed a putt opportunity and Unson came out the champion. Finishing in third place and three strokes behind the leaders was Maria Alejandra Villalobos of Colombia with 74-73-76—223.

In the boys 10-11 division, it took five sudden-death playoff holes to determine a champion. Tian Lang Guan of China (73-70-72—215) and Issei Tanabe of Huntington Beach, California (74-69-72—215), battled it out, with Guan finally prevailing.

In the girls 10-11 division, it was a come-from-behind victory for Clare Amelia Legaspi of Philippines (77-75-71—223). Legaspi entered the day four strokes behind leader Claire Hodges of Wildwood, Missouri, but Legaspi’s low-round 71 for the day pushed her to the top of the field. Hodges (73-75-78—226) finished tied for second with Kesaree Rojanapeansatith of Thailand (77-76-73—226).

In the boys 12-13 division, it was South Africa’s Tristen Strydom at the top of the leaderboard throughout the week. His final round of 68 pushed him into sole possession of first place, finishing with a three-day 71-71-68—210. Finishing in second was Pariwat Pinsawat of Thailand (72-70-70—212). Paul San of Malaysia had a 67 in the final round to jump into third place and finish with a 1-under 79-69-67—215.

In the girls 12-13 division, Thailand’s Pailin Ruttanasupagid chipped away at her score throughout the week and made her way into first place with a score of 73-72-70—215. Ana Paula Valdes of Mexico finished in second place with 71-71-76—218. Daniella Uy of Philippines was even for the day and finished in third place with 74-73-72—219.

Golfers Move Closer to Six Optimist Championship Titles
July 25, 2010
The second round of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships was one of consistent golf for many of the leaders, and a few golfers moved closer to the top of the leaderboards with impressive play on the courses today at PGA National.

Benjamin Balter of Wayland, Massachusetts, has established a two-stroke lead in the boys 14-15 division heading into the final round of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. Balter was 1-under for the day and has a two-day 70-71—141 on PGA National’s challenging Champion course. With a low-round 67 for the day, Evan Deroche of Key West, Florida, moves into second place, just two strokes out of the lead. Evan’s two-day total is 76-67—143. In a tie for third place are Nontaphat Hattakanont (72-72—144) of Thailand and Jake McBride (71-73—144) of Hartville, Ohio.

In the girls 14-15 division, Andrea Unson (Philippines) has moved into first place with a two-day 73-71—144. Eimi Koga of Honolulu, Hawaii, also shot a 1-under 71 today and moves into second place with a two-day 74-71—145. In third place heading into the final round is Maria Alejandra Villalobos of Colombia with 74-73—147.

In the boys 12-13 division, Pariwat Pinsawat of Thailand shot a 2-under 70 for the day to move into a first-place tie with Tristen Strydom of South Africa. Pinsawat’s two-day total is 72-70—142, and Strydom’s score is 71-71—142. Tied for third place and three strokes back are Donald Qiu (Surrey, British Columbia) with 76-69—145 and Aaron Terrazas (Mexico) with 73-72—145.

In the girls 12-13 division, Ana Paula Valdes of Mexico has taken sole possession of the lead, with a two-day 71-71—142 on the Squire. Even for the day and moving into second place is Pailin Ruttanasupagid of Thailand with 73-72—145. In third place entering the final day of play is Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario, with 71-75—146.

In the boys 10-11 division, Issei Tanabe of Huntington Beach, California, shot a 69 on Sunday to move into a tie for first place. He has a two-day total of 74-69—143. Sharing the lead is Tian Lang Guan of China with 73-70—143. In third place and two strokes back is Malaysia’s Aaerishna Bala Krishnan with 73-72—145.

Claire Hodges of Wildwood, Missouri, has extended her lead in the girls 10-11 division. With a two-day 73-75—148, she is four strokes ahead of the field entering the final round. Clare Amelia Legaspi of Philippines moves into second place with 77-75—152. In third place entering the final round is Kesaree Rojanapeansatith of Thailand with 77-76—153.

Golfers Gear Up for Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest Finals
July 25, 2010
The power hitters will be in the spotlight tonight at the Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest Finals at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. The show begins at 7 on Champion 10.

Competing in the girls 10-11 division are Claire Hodges (Wildwood, Missouri), Kayley Marschke (Suwanee, Georgia) and Kesaree Rojanapeansatith (Thailand). These three young golfers are also at the top of the leaderboard in their division after the first round at the Optimist.

In the youngest boys division, competition will be among Kyosuke Hara (Honolulu, Hawaii), Sully Zagerman (Windermere, Florida) and Tyler Zhang (Lonetree, Colorado).

Moving up to the girls 12-13 division, the wow factor will come from Alexa Hammer (Boynton Beach, Florida), Clementina Rodriguez (Venezuela) and Jackie Rogowicz (Yardley, Pennsylvania). Rogowicz is also in third place in the girls 12-13 division coming into the second round of play.

In the boys 12-13 division, the show-stoppers will be Tyler Johnson (Lenoir, North Carolina), Matthew Naumec (Wilbraham, Massachusetts) and Alejandro Perazzo (Venezuela).

In the girls 14-15 division, the power hitters in competition this evening include Mikayla Baer (Elmore, Ohio), Isabella Leung (Hong Kong) and Ana Raga (Venezuela).

Spectators can expect to really see the ball travel thanks to the boys 14-15 competitors. Promising to put on a big show are Nicklaus Kennedy (London, Ontario), Keegan McKinney (Avon, Indiana) and Patrick Oleksak (Feeding Hills, Massachusetts).

In addition to power off the tee, the Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest Finals will include fun facts about each of the competitors and commentary by Optimist Junior Golf consultant Steve Feinstein.

The golfers qualified for the finals during the Palmer Golf Long-Drive Contest Preliminaries on designated holes during their practice rounds on Friday.

Arnold Palmer Golf Management operates more than 50 golf courses across the United States, including PGA National. In the spirit of the company's namesake, Palmer Golf strives for perfection on all of its courses, from course condition and service to pace of play and player development. For information about Palmer Golf, visit www.palmergolf.com.

First Round Proves to be a Close One at the Optimist
July 24, 2010
It was a day of close rounds across the board as play began today at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

In the boys 14-15 division, Benjamin Balter of Wayland, Massachusetts, shot a 2-under 70 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round. Jake McBride of Hartville, Ohio, is just one stroke back with a 71 for the day. In third place with an even 72 for the day is Nontaphat Hattakanont of Thailand.

In the girls 14-15 division, Colombia’s Anna Sophia Bohmer shot 71 in the first round and has a one-stroke lead over Jinjuta Thongtan of Thailand, who was even for the day. Tied for third entering the second of three rounds are Mailen Domecq of Argentina and Andrea Unson of Philippines. Domecq and Unson were 1-over for the day with 73.

South Africa’s Tristen Strydom leads the way in the boys 12-13 division. He enters round two one under par. Pariwat Pinsawat of Thailand was even for the day and is in second place. Tied for third after 18 holes are Keegan de Lange of South Africa and Aaron Terrazas of Mexico. They both shot 73 for the day.

Competition is close in the girls 12-13 division. Tied for the lead after the first round are Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario, and Ana Paula Valdes of Mexico. They each went 1-under for the day. Even for the first round and in third place is Jackie Rogowicz of Yardley, Pennsylvania.

In the boys 10-11 division, Aaeri Bala Krishnan of Malaysia and Tian Lang Guan of China enter the second round tied for first with 1-over 73. Just a stroke behind is Issei Tanabe of Huntington Beach, California, with a first-round 74. Tanabe finished tied for third in the boys 10-11 division in 2009.

In the girls 10-11 division, Claire Hodges of Wildwood, Missouri, shot a 1-over 73 to take a three-stroke lead after the first round. In second is Kayley Marschke of Suwanee, Georgia, with 76. Tied for third with two rounds to go are 2009 girls 10-11 champion Clare Amelia Legaspi of Philippines and Kesaree Rojanapeansatith of Thailand, who both shot 77 for the day.

Round two begins on Sunday, with the third and final round on Monday.

Champs Return to Defend Titles at Optimist International Junior Golf Championships
July 23, 2010
Several champions of the 2009 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships will return this year to defend their titles.

In the younger age divisions, which begin play tomorrow, Optimist champions Natalia Forero of Colombia and Clare Amelia Legaspi of Philippines return, as do a number of other top finishers from last year’s tournament. Forero placed first in the girls 12-13 division last year and will compete in the girls 14-15 division this year. Legaspi placed first in the girls 10-11 division in 2009 and will return to that division again this year.

Other top finishers from 2009 include Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario, who finished second in the girls 10-11 division last year and moves up to the girls 12-13 division this year. Last year’s third-place finisher in the girls 10-11 division, Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Florida, also returns this year to compete in the girls 12-13 division.

From last year’s boys 10-11 division, second-place finisher Piyachad Yusabai of Thailand will compete in the boys 12-13 division this year. Tying for third in the division last year were Issei Tanabe of Huntington Beach, California, and Philip Barbaree of Shreveport, Louisiana. Tanabe will compete in the boys 10-11 division again this year, while Barbaree competes in the boys 12-13 division.

Santiago Rico of Colombia and Ignacio Marino of Argentina, who finished tied for second in last year’s boys 12-13 division, move up to compete in the boys 14-15 division this year.

In the older divisions, which get started July 29, A.J. Crouch of Jacksonville, Florida, returns to defend his title in the boys 16-18 division. Adam Schenk of Vincennes, Indiana, finished third at last year’s event and will return to compete once again. Also competing in the boys 16-18 division is Somprat Rattanasuwan of Thailand, who tied for third in last year’s boys 14-15 division. In the girls 16-18 division, Panitta Yusabai of Thailand returns after placing first in the girls 14-15 division last year.

Hundreds of junior golfers ages 10 to 18 are traveling from throughout the world to play in the annual tournament July 24 through Aug. 1. Golfers ages 10 to 15 play July 24 through 26 in three age divisions each for boys and girls: 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15. The older golfers, ages 16 to 18, will have their turn July 29 through Aug. 1.

Scores, photos, news stories and tee times are updated daily throughout the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. Results are available under the tournament’s information at www.optimist.org/golf.


Optimist International Junior Golf Championships Return to South Florida This Week
PGA National Resort & Spa Hosts Top Junior Golf Tournament for 15th Year
July 21, 2010
Six hundred of golf’s top young players are heading to the upcoming Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The tournament will bring together some of the world’s most talented young competitors, many of whom have the potential to become leading collegiate and professional golfers in the future.

Hundreds of junior golfers ages 10 to 18 will travel from throughout the world to play in the annual tournament July 24 through Aug. 1. Golfers ages 10 to 15 will play July 24 through 26 in three age divisions each for boys and girls: 10-11, 12-13 and 14-15. The older golfers, ages 16 to 18, will have their turn July 29 through Aug. 1.

The Optimist prides itself as an international event, with players representing 43 states, four Canadian provinces and 33 nations. Former champions and top finishers of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships include Beth Bauer, Jonathan Byrd, Jason Day, Bill Haas, Brittany Lincicome, Jeff Overton, Stacy Prammanasudh and Jennifer Rosales. A number of other well-known professional golfers have participated in Optimist-sponsored championships, including Ernie Els, Nancy Lopez, Davis Love III, Michelle McGann, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

The Optimist will return to PGA for the 15th consecutive year. Four of PGA National’s championship layouts will be used for the event – the Champion, Palmer, Haig and Squire courses. PGA National is home to the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic and has been host to the PGA Seniors Championship, the 1987 PGA Championship and the 1983 Ryder Cup.

Scores, photos, news stories and tee times will be updated daily throughout the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

Optimist International is one of the world’s largest service club organizations with more than 103,000 adult and youth members in 3,400 clubs worldwide. Carrying the motto “Bringing Out the Best in Kids,” Optimists conduct positive service projects that reach more than 6 million young people each year. The Optimist Junior Golf program is one of the organization’s most prominent projects.


Older Boys' Divisions to Battle at the Bear Trap
June 10, 2010
Boys in the 14-15 and 16-18 divisions of this year's Optimist International Junior Golf Championships can be rewarded for surviving the infamous Bear Trap – the challenging holes 15, 16 and 17 on the Champion course.

The Bear Trap has been known to take a fine day on the course and turn it upside down!

All golfers in the boys 14-15 and boys 16-18 divisions are automatically entered into the competition. Boys in the 14-15 division with the lowest scores on those three holes over the course of their three rounds will win prizes! Boys in the 16-18 division with the lowest scores on those three holes over the course of their two rounds will also win prizes. Tie-breakers will be determined by a drawing.

Former Optimist Champion Takes Second in NCAA Championship
June 7 , 2010
Former Optimist Champion Alex Ching continues to excel on the course, finishing second in last week's NCAA Men's Golf Championship. Ching, the 2007 Optimist champion, is a sophomore at the University of San Diego.

Ching finished tied for second in the NCAA Championship and just two strokes behind the winner, Scott Langley of the University of Illinois.

For more about Ching's performance, check out one of the stories below:

Ching winds up second in NCAA golf (Honolulu Advertiser in Honolulu, Hawaii)
Worth the Wait: Illini Langley Wins Individual Title (www.ncaa.com)

Alex Ching competes in the final round of the 2007 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

Former Optimist Golfer Wins First PGA TOUR Event
May 24, 2010
Former Optimist junior golfer Jason Day, 22, won his first PGA TOUR event this past weekend, as he took first place in the HP Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Dallas, Texas.

In 2004, Day, 16, took second place in the boys 16-18 division of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

Day wasn't the only former Optimist participant at the top of the leaderboard this weekend. 2001 Optimist Champion Jeff Overton finished tied for second in the PGA tournament.

For more information, check out the PGA TOUR story.

Jason Day competes in the 2004 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

Optimist Junior Golf Announces Members of 2010 All-Scholastic Team
May 19, 2010
Optimist Junior Golf recently announced the junior golfers who will make up the 2010 Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team. The team recognizes junior golfers who excel on the golf course and in the classroom. After reviewing the qualifications of a number of impressive applicants, the Optimist Junior Golf Committee selected five exceptional student athletes for the team.

Optimist Junior Golf bestowed the 2010 All-Scholastic Team honor on Michelle Chen of Plano, Texas; Kristen Helmsdoerfer of Westerville, Ohio; David E. Mills of Evansville, Indiana; Shane Stewart of Dublin, Ohio; and Peyton Vitter of New Orleans, Louisiana. Helmsdoerfer also received the “Bringing Out the Best in Kids” Community Service Award.

The members of the 2010 Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team will receive automatic exemptions into the 2010 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships July 27 through August 1 at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. In addition, the members of the scholastic team will have their registration fee for the tournament waived. All of this year’s honorees will also be recognized for their accomplishments at the tournament’s opening ceremonies on July 28.
 

Michelle Chen
 
Kristen Helmsdoerfer
 
David E. Mills

 
Shane Stewart
 
Peyton Vitter
 

“This year’s field of applicants impressed the selection committee not just with their achievements on the course but also their success in the classroom and the service they provide in their communities,” said Steve Feinstein, chairman of the Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team Committee. “I’m confident the members of this year’s team have bright futures not just in golf but far beyond the course.”

Applicants were required to be 16 to 18 years old and past participants of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, Optimist International Tournament of Champions or Optimist District qualifiers. Those making the team exemplified an impressive balance between golf and academics.

Michelle Chen is finishing her junior year at Plano West Senior High School. She has a cumulative 3.98 GPA and excelled in all areas of the SAT. Chen is involved in National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society and has competed in state-level science fairs. She also volunteers with the Hawaii Red Cross Summer Buddies Swim Program and the Collin County Teen Court. She is a student mentor for younger students as well as those with special needs. Chen has been on her school’s golf team for three years and served as captain this year. She was her team’s most valuable player in 2008-2009 and was also named Texas Junior Golf Tour Player of the Year. She competed in the 2009 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships and 2009 Optimist International Tournament of Champions.

Kristen Helmsdoerfer is finishing her senior year at Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio. With a 4.08 GPA, she is ranked sixth out of 240 students and has excelled on the SAT and ACT. Helmsdoerfer, who plans to attend Ohio University in the fall, was instrumental in starting the girls’ golf team at her school and teaching newcomers to the sport. She competed in the 2009 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships and lost in a sudden-death playoff at the FCWT Yankee Trace last spring. Outside of golf, Helmsdoerfer has participated in show choir, an a cappella group, theater and varsity swimming. She has dedicated more than 100 hours to service throughout the past school year and received this year’s “Bringing Out the Best in Kids” Community Service Award. She is president and founder of her school’s Interact Service Club, a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, an Ohio Reads tutor and a Sunday school teacher. She also helped raise more than $1,000 each for a Mexican orphanage and efforts in Haiti.

David E. Mills is completing his senior year at Evansville North High School, where he is ranked first in a class of 318 students. Mills has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout high school. He scored high on both the SAT and ACT and will attend Indiana University in the fall. Mills devotes time to the AJGA Playing It Forward Campaign and has volunteered with Race for the Cure, Toys for Tots, Christian Life Center and Goodwill Industries and as a peer math tutor. He has played golf for his high school for four years and is an inductee into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He is an AJGA HP Scholastic All-American and an FCWT Academic All-American Honorable Mention. Mills is ranked 114th by Golfweek and has a Junior Golf Scoreboard ranking of 140. He took first in last fall’s Champion Spikes Showdown and the Puma Junior Hoosier Championship. He finished in the top 10 in the 2009 Optimist International Tournament of Champions and 2007 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

After graduating from Dublin Jerome High School in Dublin, Ohio, at the top of his class of 275 students, Shane Stewart is heading to Penn State University this fall on a golf scholarship. Stewart has a 4.427 GPA and scored high on the ACT, particularly in English. Stewart is a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club. He volunteers his time as a student “buddy” for younger students, as a middle school golf instructor and with the Salvation Army’s Christmas Cheer Program and “Dylan’s Dream” cart caddying to fight disabilities. Stewart has played varsity golf for three years and received the Team Sportsmanship Award in 2007. He finished tied for first in last summer’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships District Qualifier and went on to compete in the international event. He took first in the FCWT Whistling Straits Challenge last May and tied for second in last fall’s FCWT Tampa Bay Challenge. He tied for third at the Men’s U.S. Open Local Qualifier last summer.

Peyton Vitter is heading into his senior year at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. With a 4.83 GPA, he is ranked 12th in a class of 275 students. Vitter is a member of the National Honor Society and has received National Latin Exam Silver and Gold medals. He has been nominated for the National Young Leaders Conference, the National Student Leadership Conference and the Congressional Youth Leadership Council. At school Vitter is involved in student council, the Pro-Life Club, the Christian Life Club and the Ping Pong Club and has been a drummer for seven years. He assists disadvantaged with sports and tutoring, volunteers at a day care for the disadvantaged and helps with a Thanksgiving food drive. His school’s golf team captured the regional championship title in 2008 and 2009. He has taken second place in the Louisiana State Junior Amateur for the past two years. He also competed in the local Optimist International Junior Golf Championships District Qualifier in 2007 and 2009.

The All-Scholastic Team is named for Hugh Cranford, who served as Executive Director of Optimist International from 1967 to 1986. He was instrumental in starting the Optimist Junior Golf program and in 1978 led the efforts to co-sponsor the Optimist Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego, the forerunner to today’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. Cranford served as chairman of the Optimist Junior Golf Committee and is an emeritus member of the committee.

Former Optimist Golfer Alexis Thompson to Turn Pro in June at Age 15
May 12, 2010
Former Optimist golfer Alexis Thompson has announced that she will turn pro next month at the age of 15. Her first professional tournament will be the ShopRite LPGA Classic June 14-20 at Seaview in Galloway, New Jersey.

In 2005, Thompson finished tied for third in the girls 10-11 age division of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. In 2006, at the age of 11, she qualified to compete in the girls 16-18 age division and finished third in a field of 80 players. Thompson finished tied for fourth place in the 2006 Tournament of Champions.

  Alexis Thompson, age 11, competes in the girls 16-18 division of the 2006 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.


Golfsmith and MoRodz Support Optimist Championships as Presenting Sponsors of District Winner Banquets
May 12, 2010
Wishing to recognize young golfers at the top of their game, Golfsmith and MoRodz have signed on as the presenting sponsors of the District Winner Banquets at this summer's Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Each year thousands of junior golfers attempt to qualify for the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships through more than 50 District qualifying tournaments. The winners of these qualifying tournaments are honored each year at a banquet during the championship event. The District Winner Banquets presented by Golfsmith and MoRodz will take place on July 24 for winners in the 10-15 age divisions and on July 29 for the 16-18 age division winners.

More than 620 junior golfers ages 10-18 compete in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships each year on the courses of PGA National. The young golfers represent more than 35 states and 30 other nations. This year golfers ages 10-15 will compete July 24 through 26 in three age divisions each for boys and girls, while golfers ages 16-18 will have their turn July 29 through Aug. 1. In addition to tournament play, golfers have the opportunity to participate in a number of events that recognize and enhance their golf skills, including the District Winner Banquets presented by Golfsmith and MoRodz.

Golfsmith is a specialty retailer of golf and tennis equipment, apparel and accessories. Golfsmith offers an extensive product selection that features premier branded merchandise, as well as its proprietary products, clubmaking components and pre-owned clubs. Customers can shop in more than 70 stores across the United States as well as online at www.golfsmith.com and through a variety of catalogs.

MoRodz, "More than just a Rod," is the leading manufacturer of one of the hottest training aids in the golf industry today. Their customized golf alignment rods are among the most fundamental golf equipment used and trusted by golfers worldwide. Headquartered in Miami, Oklahoma, MoRodz strives to offer innovative golf accessories. MoRodz's unique ability to offer customization has provided a niche market in the competitive golf industry. MoRodz's customers cover the full spectrum from the local golf professional to the large retail chain that is looking for the newest and hottest golf products. For more information visit www.morodz.com.

Optimist International is one of the world’s largest service club organizations with more than 103,000 adult and youth members in 3,500 clubs in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico and throughout the world. Carrying the motto "Bringing Out the Best in Kids," Optimists conduct positive service projects that reach more than six million young people each year. The Optimist Junior Golf program is one of the organization’s most prominent projects.

Optimist Junior Golf Announces U.S. Team for Inaugural World Cup Event
April 26, 2010
Junior golfers Colin Gunstream of Missoula, Montana, and Adam Schenk of Vincennes, Indiana, have been selected to represent the United States in the inaugural Optimist Golf World Cup. The event, held in coordination with the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, will take place July 27 on the Champion course at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Two-player teams from a number of nations will compete in the Optimist Golf World Cup, which is sponsored by Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment. The Optimist Golf World Cup will be a one-day, 18-hole team competition featuring players who are also competing in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

Gunstream and Schenk were selected based on their past results in Optimist golf events, Golfweek and Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings as well as international, national and regional tournament experience.

Gunstream finished eighth in last year’s Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. He took first place at last year’s USGA Boys Junior Amateur Qualifier in Laurel, Montana, as well as the MSGA State Junior Championship. Last June, Gunstream finished fifth in the Trusted Choice Big “I” State Championship in Montana.

Schenk has participated in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in six out of the past seven years. He placed third at last year’s event and finished in the top 10 of the boys 14-15 division in 2007. In June 2009, Schenk took first place in the USGA Boys Junior Amateur Qualifier in West Lafayette, Indiana. He also placed first in the FCWT Black Diamond Ranch Challenge this past January. Other recent top finishes include second place at the Puma Hoosier Junior Championship in October; third place at the FCWT Purdue Open in October; and fourth place in the AJGA Burgett H. Mooney Jr. Rome Classic last June.

Colin Gunstream

Adam Schenk

The Optimist International Junior Golf Championships returns to PGA National Resort and Spa this summer for the 15th consecutive year. Approximately 650 junior golfers from 35 states and 30 other nations will compete in the event. Boys and girls ages 10-15 will compete July 24-26 and golfers in the 16-18 age divisions will compete July 29 through Aug. 1. For information visit golf.optimist.org.

Optimist International is one of the world’s largest service club organizations with more than 103,000 adult and youth members in 3,500 clubs in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico and throughout the world. Carrying the motto “Bringing Out the Best in Kids,” Optimists conduct positive service projects that reach more than six million young people each year. The Optimist Junior Golf program is one of the organization’s most prominent projects. For information visit www.optimist.org.

NCSA Educational Recruiting Expert Brandi Jackson to Speak at Optimist Championships
March 31, 2010
Former LPGA and current Duramed Futures Tour professional Brandi Jackson will address golfers in the 16-18 age divisions at the 2010 Optimist, answering questions about the college recruiting process and talking about her experiences as a junior, collegiate and professional golfer.

Jackson will present "College Recruiting Simplified: Learn the Five Things You Need to Know and the Five Things You Must Do" at 7:30 p.m. July 31 at PGA National.

Jackson attended Furman University on a combined academic and athletic scholarship. While at Furman she won the Southern Conference Championship and NCAA East Regional Championship and was runner-up at the US Women's Amateur Championship. She was picked as Second Team All American and named Southern Conference Player of the Year.

Since graduating from Furman in 2003 Jackson has played three years on the LPGA tour and the remaining time has been spent on the Duramed Futures Tour. During that time she competed in three US Open Championships. While she plans to continue pursuing her dream of playing professional golf, she has recently joined with the National Collegiate Scouting Association as an Educational Recruiting Expert Speaker. Jackson speaks at high schools, camps, combines and tournaments all across the country to help educate athletes and their families about the realities of the college recruiting process. The recruiting process can be a stressful and confusing time for families, so she walks golfers through the process and gives them tips and guidelines to get them on the right track.

For more information about Brandi Jackson, click here.

Brandi Jackson

Optimist Junior Golf Finalizes District Qualifying Schedule
February 3, 2010
The dates of the official Optimist qualifying tournaments have been finalized. In 2010, there will be 53 Optimist District qualifying tournaments in 34 states and five Canadian provinces. The Optimist District qualifying season kicks off in the South Florida District on March 29-30 with a qualifier for all age divisions at the International Links-Melreese Country Club in Miami, Florida. This new South Florida qualifier is being held in cooperation with The First Tee Miami-Dade Amateur Golf Association's Spring Break Classic. Qualifying tournaments continue throughout April, May and June, with the majority taking place the last half of June. Many Districts also hold a series of local pre-qualifying tournaments that determine which golfers advance to the District finals.

Junior golfers who participate in Optimist District tournaments compete for the opportunity to qualify for the summer Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. A set number of qualifying spots in each age division are granted to each District tournament.

In addition, each participating Optimist District will sponsor the first-place boy and girl winner in the 16-18 age division from their own District to the championships at PGA National Resort & Spa. This sponsorship includes the payment of championship registration fees (inclusive of practice round, tournament rounds, driving range & putting green privileges, five nights lodging, breakfast & dinner during the championships, and access to all Optimist-sponsored recreational activities and special events). Many Optimist Districts pay for transportation and incidental costs and may sponsor winners of other age divisions if funds allow.

Junior golfers who live in an Optimist District that offers an official qualifying tournament are required to participate in a District tournament to attempt to qualify for the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. Golfers are encouraged to participate in their home District's event but may travel outside of their District if they choose.

To view a master list of qualifying tournaments, click here.

Optimist Junior Golf Announces Inaugural Optimist Golf World Cup
January 15, 2010
The Optimist Junior Golf Program has announced a new event that will be held in conjunction with the 2010 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. The Optimist Golf World Cup Presented by Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment will be a one-day, 18-hole, team competition featuring two-player teams representing their nations. Optimist Golf World Cup participants will consist of players who are also competing in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. This new event is sure to generate extra excitement during the Optimist and it will be an honor for players to participate under their country's flag.




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