Junior Golfers Crowned Champions of the 2008 Optimist International Tournament
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.
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.
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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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: