2008 News Archives

Four Junior Golfers Crowned Champions of the 2008 Optimist International Tournament of Champions
November 16, 2008
Four junior golfers walked away Sunday 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.

The Champions are (from left) Quinlan Prchal (boys 14-15), Andrew Cho (boys 16-18), Annie Park (girls 14-18) and Katlyn Kennedy (girls 13 and under).
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 +6, respectively.

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.

For a tournament leaderboard, hole-by-hole results, photos and more, please visit www.JuniorGolfResults.com.

Junior Golfer Breaks Tournament Record to Capture Optimist Championship
August 3, 2008
In the final round of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina set a tournament record by going 16 under for the tournament to claim the boys 16-18 championship. Grillo shot a 67 for the day and ended five strokes ahead of the competition, with a four-day 66-70-69-67—272.

The previous record holder for the four-day tournament was Ryan Hybl of Colbert, Georgia, with 73-64-69-67—273 in 1998. Grillo, 15, played up in the boys 16-18 age division and was the boys 14-15 champion in the 2007 Optimist Championships.

Dropping out of the lead and settling for second place with 11 under for the tournament was Stewart Hagestad of Newport Beach, California. His final score was 65-71-68-73—277. Grillo and Hagestad were neck and neck throughout the tournament until the final round.

With a 68 for the day, Jorge Fernandez Valdes of Cordoba, Argentina, finished in third place and six under par. His final score was 72-69-73-68—282.

Adam Stephenson of Greenville, North Carolina, shot 69 for the day and finished in fourth place with 69-75-73-69—286. Finishing the day tied for fifth were Thitiphun Chuayprakong of Bangkok, Thailand (75-71-71-70—287), and Ryan Black of Port St. Lucie, Florida (71-74-67-75—287).

In the girls 16-18 division, longtime Optimist participant Susana Benavides of Cochabamba, Bolivia, shot 70 in the final round to go one over for the tournament and capture the championship. Benavides’ four-day total was 71-75-73-70—289. Benavides has competed in the Optimist Championships annually since 2005, but the championship title eluded her until this year.

Finishing the tournament in a tie for second were Chihiro Ikeda of Calamba, Philippines (73-71-75-72—291), and Gabriella Dominguez of Chilton, Texas (72-75-70-74—291). Coming in fourth was Alexandria Buelow of Palm City, Florida, with a four-day 76-75-72-70—293. Rounding out the top five was the 2007 Optimist champion, Catherine O’Donnell of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (73-75-74-75—297).

Complete results are available at www.optimist.org/golf. General photos and news updates are also available.

Optimist International Junior Golf Championships End in Dramatic Fashion
July 28, 2008
With sudden-death playoffs in two divisions and remarkably low scores in the final round, the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships came to a close today at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

In the girls 14-15 age division, a three-way tie for first place forced a sudden-death playoff on PGA National’s Haig course. One hole was all it took for Liliana Cammisa of Cordoba, Argentina (72-76-72—220), to claim the championship title. A scorecard playoff determined second and third place, with Tuangtong Sangrattanatongkam of Chachoengsao, Thailand, taking second (72-75-73—220), and Moriya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand, coming in third (69-77-74—220).

The other sudden-death playoff came in the boys 12-13 division on the Palmer course. Justin Pagila of Dublin, California, jumped into first place with a 64 for the final round and 72-72-64—208 overall. He ended the day tied with Guillermo Pereira of Santiago, Chile (69-70-69—208), at eight under par. The boys battled it out on a four-hole playoff before Pereira was declared the champion in front of a large crowd of spectators. Pereira is not unfamiliar with pressure at the Optimist Championships. At the 2006 tournament, he was in a two-player sudden-death playoff in the boys 10-11 division. That playoff also lasted four holes and he ended the tournament in second place. Coming in third place in the boys 12-13 division was Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita, California, with 69-67-73—209.

In the boys 14-15 division of the 2008 Optimist, Poom Saksanil of Bangkok, Thailand, came out one stroke ahead to take the title with a final score of 68-71-76—215. Coming in second was Byoung Jun Chung of Rosario, Argentina, with 71-75-70—216. In a tie for third were A.J. Crouch of Jacksonville, Florida (73-73-71—217), and Nond Ounmuang of Bangkok, Thailand (75-70-72—217).

In the girls 12-13 division, Ariya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand, ran away with the championship on the final day with a low-round 66. Her three-day 69-71-66—206 was 10 under par and six strokes ahead of the competition. Jutanugarn has captured the title in her age division for two consecutive years, claiming the girls 10-11 division in 2007. Coming in second place was Panita Yusabai of Bangkok, Thailand, with 69-72-71—212. Sloan Shanahan of Suwanee, Georgia, finished in third place with 67-74-74—215.

In the boys 10-11 division, Joshua Martin of Pinehurst, North Carolina, established his lead in the first round and never looked back. With a score of 70-74-70—214, Martin ended the day two under par and six strokes ahead of the field. Coming in second was Zi Hao Chen of Zhuhai, China, with 79-71-70—220. Finishing in a tie for third were Donny Hopoi of Aiea, Hawaii (79-76-69—224), and Enrique Grau of Lima, Peru (74-78-72—224).

In the girls 10-11 division, Allisen Corpuz of Kapolei, Hawaii, was even for the day, putting her in first place and two strokes ahead of the playing field. She finished the tournament with 76-75-72—223. Ornnicha Konsunthea of Bangkok, Thailand, claimed second place with a consistent 75-75-75—225. Rounding out the top three was Marijosse Navarro of Mexico with 79-71-76—226.

Hundreds of golfers ages 10 to 18 travel from throughout the world to play in the annual tournament, now in its 13th year at PGA National. The older golfers, ages 16 to 18, will have their turn July 31 through Aug. 3.

The junior golfers’ progress can be tracked online at www.optimist.org/golf. Scores, general photos and news updates about activities on and off the golf course are available throughout the tournament.

For information please contact the Optimist golf office at (561) 227-2501 or e-mail communications@optimist.org.

Former Two-time Optimist Champion to Compete in U.S. Women's Open
June 26, 2008
Victoria “Vicky” Tanco of Argentina is making some national headlines this week as she competes in the U.S. Women’s Open at the age of 14. Tanco claimed the top spot at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships just a few years ago, taking first in the girls 10-11 division in 2005 and once again in the girls 12-13 division in 2006. An in-depth story of how Tanco got from the Optimist to the U.S. Women’s Open is available on the ESPN website by clicking here.

Other top finishers from the Optimist who are competing in the U.S. Women’s Open as amateurs include Amanda Blumenherst of Scottsdale, Arizona; Cyd Okino of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Florida. Blumenherst was the girls 12-13 champion in 2000. Thompson and Okino finished in a three-way tie for third in the girls 10-11 division of the Optimist in 2005, and Thompson went on to finish third in the girls 16-18 division in 2006.

Former Optimist participants also competing in the event include Julieta Granada of Paraguay (second place in girls 10-11 division in 1998); Nicole Hage of Coral Springs, Florida (girls 10-11 champion in 1996 and girls 12-13 champion in 1999); Brittany Lincicome of Seminole, Florida (girls 14-15 champion in 2000); Virada Nirapathpongporn of Thailand (girls 14-15 champion in 1997); Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Oklahoma (girls 16-18 champion in 1998); and Jennifer Rosales of Philippines (girls 16-18 champion in 1997).

For more information visit the U.S. Women’s Open website at www.uswomensopen.com.

Pull Carts at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships
June 6, 2008
The Optimist Junior Golf Committee is aware of several other golf organizations’ rules on pull cart usage at their junior tournaments.  Due to the size and scope of our championship tournament, pull carts are only allowed for the boys & girls 10-11 divisions at the 2008 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.  Golfers in the boys & girls 12-13, 14-15 and 16-18 divisions are required to carry their golf bags.  This policy is a condition of the competition and there are no exceptions.

During the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, tournament administrators are faced with the task of coordinating play for up to 400 golfers on as many as four golf courses per day.  Optimist International staff and volunteers provide extensive transportation during the championships including shuttling golfers to and from the driving ranges & practice greens, rental van transportation for golfers & spectators involved in a shotgun start, and immediate & effective course evacuations during dangerous weather situations.   The logistics involved in transporting this many people are extremely challenging, even under the best circumstance.  The priority is—and always will be—on the safety of the young participants and spectators.  The Committee feels that the current policy best ensures this outcome.

The Optimist Junior Golf Committee reviews all Optimist Junior Golf policies and procedures (including pull cart usage) on an annual basis.  The Committee is aware of other organizations’ rules regarding pull carts and will make future policy changes that are in the best interest of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships and its participants.


The Optimist Junior Golf Committee

Please note: Golfers in the boys & girls 10-11 divisions only who wish to use a pull cart at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships must use a pull cart provided by Optimist International and may not use their own equipment.  For more information, click here.

Optimist Junior Golf Announces Members of All-Scholastic Team
May 27, 2008
Optimist Junior Golf recently announced the junior golfers who will make up the 2008 Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team. The team recognizes junior golfers who excel not just on the golf course but also in the classroom. After reviewing the qualifications of 39 impressive applicants, the Optimist Junior Golf Committee selected four students for the team.

Optimist Junior Golf bestowed the All-Scholastic Team honor on four exceptional student athletes – Adam Carpenter of Little Rock, Arkansas; Katherine Jean of Rantoul, Illinois; Patrick Rodgers of Avon, Indiana; and Mark Wehner of Cincinnati, Ohio.

As members of the 2008 Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team, the four junior golfers will receive an automatic exemption into the 2008 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships July 29 through August 3 at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Their registration fee for the tournament will be waived, and they will also be recognized for the honor at the tournament’s opening ceremonies on July 30.

“The selection committee faced a most difficult task when considering so many strong applications,” said Optimist Junior Golf Committee Member Steve Feinstein. “Both academics and golf take discipline, and these young golfers have shown they have what it takes to succeed across the board.”

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. Applications came in from junior golfers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Those making the team exemplified an impressive balance between golf and academics.

Adam Carpenter is a junior at Arkansas Baptist High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, who has a 4.0 grade point average. Carpenter excelled on the ACT and balances strong academics with his participation in a number of leadership and community service organizations as well as golf. He has helped his high school’s golf team to three state championships in a row and was named to the National High School Golf Coaches Association’s All American Golf Team in 2007. Carpenter also finished first in the Arkansas District qualifier in 2007.

Katherine Jean is a junior at The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign, Illinois. Jean has a 4.1 cumulative grade point average and received a high score on the ACT. Jean is at the top of her class with a challenging course load and is involved in a variety of outside interests, from sports and volunteer opportunities to her school’s Spanish Club and pep club. She has been her high school golf team’s captain for two years and the team’s MVP for three years. Jean also competed in the 2007 Illinois District qualifier in Springfield, Illinois.

Patrick Rodgers is finishing up his freshman year at Avon High School in Avon, Indiana, and with a 4.35 grade point average, Rodgers is ranked first in his class of 603 students. In addition to playing on his school’s varsity golf team, Rodgers plays basketball and dedicates time as a volunteer in a variety of areas, from a soup kitchen and a library to the 2008 Indy Hoop Shoot. Rodgers competed in the boys 14-15 division of the 2007 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

Mark Wehner is completing his senior year at Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. He performed well on the ACT, with particularly high scores in the areas of mathematics and science. Wehner, who is ranked first in his class of 719 students, was named a Commended Student in the National Merit Scholarship Program and has been honored for his academic accomplishments in various competitions from the University of Cincinnati Mathematics Bowl to the Ralph E. Oesper Science Olympiad Test. In addition to playing varsity golf for his high school for the past three years, Wehner participated in the 2007 Ohio District qualifier.

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. In recent years, Cranford has served as chairman and member of the committee that oversees the Optimist Junior Golf program. He is currently an emeritus member of the committee.

Former Optimist Golfers to Face the Champion Once Again
February 26 , 2008
Optimists tuning into PGA TOUR action this week can see some familiar sights and familiar golfers as the Honda Classic settles into the Champion course at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, for the second consecutive year.

In Optimist circles, the challenging course at PGA National is best known as the center of action at the organization’s big international junior golf tournaments each year – the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships each summer and the Optimist International Tournament of Champions each fall.

Returning to their roots at PGA National are a few past Optimist International Junior Golf Championships participants.

Included in the playing field is Jason Day of Australia, who took second in the boys 16-18 division of the 2004 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

Tadd Fujikawa, the high school student from Hawaii who turned pro in 2007, has received a lot of media attention recently. He will be returning to familiar ground at PGA National after placing fourth in the boys 12-13 division of the 2004 Optimist championship event.

Also competing are Indiana’s Jeff Overton, the 2001 champion of the boys 16-18 division; local Florida golfer Nicholas Thompson, who tied for 12th in the boys 14-15 division in 1998 and came back to take third in the oldest division in 1999; Jonathan Byrd of Georgia, 1996 champion of the boys 16-18 division; and South Carolina’s Bill Haas, who also competed in the late 1990s.

To tune into the action, check local TV listings or visit www.pgatour.com or www.thehondaclassic.com.

Past Optimist Golf Competitors Attract Attention at Sony Open
January 14, 2008
This past weekend’s Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, featured seven past participants of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.

Alex Ching, 2007 boys 16-18 champion of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, qualified to compete in the PGA Tour event in his home state.

In addition to Ching, the competitors include Tadd Fujikawa, who placed fourth in the boys 12-13 division of the Optimist summer championship in 2004. Fujikawa made national headlines in the summer of 2006 when he became the youngest player to participate in the U.S. Open at the age of 15.

Other past Optimist competitors included Jonathan Byrd, Jason Day, Bill Haas, Jeff Overton and Nicholas Thompson.

As local competitors who are both still in high school, Ching and Fujikawa attracted quite a bit of attention from the Hawaii media. Here are a few links to local news coverage:

January 10 on KHNL
January 10 on KGMB
January 11 on KGMB

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