2006 News Archives

Optimist Golf Participants Move on to the College Level
A number of golfers from the 2006 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships and Tournament of Champions have made plans to continue their golfing careers in college. The following junior golfers have signed letters of intent to play golf at the listed colleges and universities in the fall of 2007.
    Girls
    Lauren Bliwas (Upper Arlington, Ohio) – University of Toledo
    Alexia Brown (Phoenix, Arizona) – Portland State University
    Gia Fanelli (West Palm Beach, Florida) – Penn State
    Amber Hensley (Tulsa, Oklahoma) – Oral Roberts University
    Alejandra Llaneza (Mexico City, Mexico) – University of Arizona
    Megan McChrystal (Stuart, Florida) – Louisiana State University
    Kelsey Meyer (St. Louis, Missouri) – University of Missouri
    Rachel Pruett (Linton, Indiana) – Ball State University
    Liz Sobczak (Muskego, Wisconsin) – University of Texas at El Paso
    Lauren Spurlock (Germantown, Tennessee) – Belmont University
    Innapha Tantanavivat (Bangkok, Thailand) – University of Georgia
    Rebecca Watson (Edinburgh, Scotland) – University of Tennessee

    Boys
    Benjamin Bellville (Granger, Indiana) – Indiana University
    Michael Coatman (Lincoln, Nebraska) – University of Nebraska
    Tyler Evenson (Lead, South Dakota) – Dakota Wesleyan University
    Chris Johnson (Columbia, Missouri) – University of Missouri
    Andrew Kay (Pittsford, New York) – University of Maryland
    Matthew Stasiak (Clarence, New York) – Miami University (Ohio)
    Nathan Sutherland (Wyomissing, Pennsylvania) – Miami University (Ohio)
    Michael Taylor (Ashland, Virginia) – University of North Carolina Wilmington
    Doug Underwood (Stow, Ohio) – University of Akron
    Nathan Wine (Fort Wayne, Indiana) – University of Toledo
    Daniel Wood (Leander, Texas) – Kansas State University
Junior golfers come from behind to grab championship titles at Optimist International Tournament of Champions
November 19, 2006
Junior golfers came from behind and outplayed their competitors to take championship titles in two of the three age divisions at this weekend’s Optimist International Tournament of Champions at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Junior golfer Nathan Sutherland of Wyomissing, Pa., began the day tied for seventh place but came out the champ in the boys 16-18 age division. Sutherland played a smooth final round and shot a 69 for the day, ending the tournament two strokes ahead of the competition with a two-day 75-69—144. Coming in second with a two-day 73-73—146 was Kyle Kopsick of Lake Bluff, Ill. In a three-way tie for third were golfers Andrew Kay of Pittsford, N.Y., with 75-72—147; Christopher Miller of Washington, D.C., with 71-76—147; and Minghao Wang of Reunion, Fla., with 73-74—147.

In the boys 14-15 age division, it was Mateusz Jedrzejczyk of Poland who took everyone by surprise. Jedrzejczyk began the day in seventh place but ran away with the top spot as he shot 69 for the day and was 75-69—144 for the tournament, five strokes ahead of the field. Coming in second place was John Varol of Weddington, N.C., with a two-day 74-75—149. Leading by three strokes coming into the day and coming in third was Church Waesche of Timonium, Md., with a two-day 69-81—150.

While there were no huge upsets in the girls 14-18 age division, the players kept everyone guessing about the outcome until the final shots of the day. Playing consistent golf throughout the weekend was the answer for champion Maria Ronderos of Bradenton, Fla., who finished with 77-76—153. Just one stroke back and finishing in a tie for second were Kristen Hill of Weston, Fla., and Emma Lavy of Fayetteville, Ark. Hill had the low score for the day and scored 80-74—154 for the tournament, while Lavy shot a steady 77-77—154. Monica Miller of Davie, Fla., and Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., began the day tied for first and ended the day tied for fourth, each with a two-day 76-79—155.

The Tournament of Champions is a 36-hole, stroke-play invitational that showcases some of the most talented young players in the world. Golfers from 25 states in the United States, three Canadian provinces and eight other nations competed in the second annual tournament, which is ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfweek and is included in the AJGA Performance Based Entry process.

Forty-nine boys competed in the boys 16-18 division; 29 boys competed in the boys 14-15 division; and 20 girls competed in the girls 14-18 division. All players competed on the Champion course, which will be home to the Honda Classic in March 2007.

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 decade with the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships played each July at PGA National. 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 inaugural Tournament of Champions in 2005 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, Live!Scoring regularly updated scores throughout the Tournament of Champions. Viewers can see all tournament results by going to www.optimist.org, selecting “Junior Golf” and clicking on “Live!Scoring” on the screen that follows or by going to www.juniorgolfresults.com and clicking on the tournament name.

For information call (800) 500-8130 or e-mail communications@optimist.org.

Top players battle it out in first round of Optimist International Tournament of Champions
November 18, 2006
With one round down and one to go, the title of champion is up for grabs in all three divisions of the Optimist International Tournament of Champions at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The biggest lead can be found in the boys 14-15 age division, where Church Waesche of Timonium, Md., birdied five of the first six holes and ended the first round at 3-under 69, three strokes ahead of the competition. Waesche credited solid putting to his low score for the day and said he looked forward to another strong outing on Sunday.

Not far behind Waesche and finishing even for the day at 72 was Curtis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., who will enter the final round in second place. Four players were 2 over for the day at 74 and are tied for third entering Sunday’s play. They are John Varol of Weddington, N.C.; Boom Sritart of Keller, Texas; Seth Reeves of Duluth, Ga.; and Brandon Heinkel of Boynton Beach, Fla.

In the boys 16-18 age division, two players share the top spot as they enter the final round on Sunday. Scoring a 1-under 71 in the first round on Saturday were Johnny Widmer of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and Christopher Miller of Washington, D.C. Not far behind in a three-way tie for third with 73 for the day were Minghao Wang of Reunion, Fla.; Kyle Kopsick of Lake Bluff, Ill.; and Michael Wuertz of Davenport, Iowa.

South Florida players dominated the first round in the girls 14-18 age division. Tied for first place after the first of two rounds are Monica Miller of Davie, Fla., and Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., who were 4 over with a score of 76. Tied for third place are Maria Ronderos of Bradenton and Emma Lavy of Fayetteville, Ark., who shot 5-over 77 for the day.

The Tournament of Champions is a 36-hole, stroke-play invitational that showcases some of the most talented young players in the world. Golfers from 25 states in the United States, three Canadian provinces and seven other nations are competing in the second annual tournament, which is ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfweek and is included in the AJGA Performance Based Entry process.

Forty-nine boys are competing in the boys 16-18 division; 29 boys are competing in the boys 14-15 division; and 20 girls are competing in the girls 14-18 division. All players are competing on the Champion course, which will be home to the Honda Classic in March 2007.

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 decade with the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships played each July at PGA National. 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 inaugural Tournament of Champions in 2005 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, Live!Scoring is regularly updating scores throughout the Tournament of Champions. Tee times and complete playing fields are also available. Viewers can keep updated about the tournament by going to www.optimist.org, selecting “Junior Golf” and clicking on “Live!Scoring” on the screen that follows or by going to www.juniorgolfresults.com and clicking on the tournament name.

For information or to arrange interviews, please call (561) 227-2501 or e-mail communications@optimist.org.

Competition is Steep as Junior Golfers Return to PGA National for Tournament of Champions
November 13, 2006
Some familiar names will be among the more than 100 young golfers in the playing field for this year’s Optimist International Tournament of Champions Nov. 17 through 19 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Top junior golfers will compete in the event, including many who have found success at past Optimist-sponsored tournaments on the links at PGA.

In addition to the Tournament of Champions, more than 650 junior golfers ages 10 to 18 compete in the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships each July at PGA National. Top players from the summer event and its qualifying tournaments, top players from the inaugural Tournament of Champions in 2005 as well as leading players from other selected tournaments were extended invitations to apply for the Tournament of Champions. They will compete in three divisions – boys 14-15, boys 16-18 and girls 14-18.

Carson Weinand of Naples, Fla., will return to compete in 2006. Weinand took first in the boys 14-15 division at the Tournament of Champions last December and will compete in the boys 16-18 division this year. Also competing in the 16-18 age division is Carl McCauley of Parkland, Fla., who finished tied for third in the boys 16-18 division last year. Michael Cromie of Cary, N.C., and Travis Ralph of Redington Beach, Fla., tied for second at last year’s tournament in the boys 14-15 category and will return this year to vie for the top spot in that age division. Ralph also finished in the top 10 in his division of the 2006 summer championship.

A number of other top-10 finishers from the summer event will return to PGA National this November as well. In the oldest boys division, a number of players will come back to the Champion course after playing well in past Optimist-sponsored tournaments.

Johnny Widmer of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, returns after tying for second in the boys 16-18 age division in the summer event and consistently performing well on the Champion course for the past several years. Other top performers from the summer event include Matthew Stasiak of Clarence, N.Y., (fifth place in boys 16-18); Andrew Kay of Pittsford, N.Y. (tied for sixth in boys 16-18); Sebastian Pinzon of Bogota, Colombia (tied for sixth in boys 16-18); Lee Bedford of Cary, N.C. (tied for ninth in boys 16-18); Kevin Phelan of St. Augustine, Fla. (tied for fourth in boys 14-15); and Charles Winegardner of Lothian, Md. (tied for 10th in boys 14-15).

In the Tournament of Champions’ boys 14-15 age division, several players return to PGA after strong performances at the Optimist this summer. Those include Luciano Navilli of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who tied for second in the summer event’s boys 14-15 age division. Navilli also competed in last year’s Tournament of Champions, finishing tied for fourth. Others of note include Brandon Heinkel of Boynton Beach, Fla. (tied for fourth in boys 14-15), and Curtis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla. (tied for third in boys 12-13).

Curtis Thompson’s sister, 11-year-old Alexis Thompson, is at the top of a solid list of players in the girls 14-18 age division. Thompson returns to PGA National after placing third in the girls 16-18 age division this summer. Also coming off a strong summer event is Diana Davis of Pembroke Pines, Fla., who played well in the girls 14-15 division, finishing tied for ninth.

Other competitors to keep an eye on include Minghao Wang of Reunion, Fla., ranked 95th by Golfweek and competing in the boys 16-18 division; and Christina Miller of Bradenton, Fla., ranked 52nd by Golfweek and competing in the girls division.

To view a complete list of players, please go to www.optimist.org, look under "Junior Golf" and select the name of the tournament. For updates throughout the tournament, please check the website regularly. In conjunction with the Junior Golf Scoreboard, Live!Scoring will be available throughout the tournament with regularly updated scores and tee times. For information go to www.juniorgolfresults.com and click on the name of the tournament.

The Tournament of Champions is ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfweek and is included in the AJGA Performance Based Entry process.

Top Junior Golfers to Compete in Optimist International Tournament of Champions
November 8, 2006
More than 100 top young golfers will compete in the Optimist International Tournament of Champions Nov. 17 through 19 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The 36-hole, stroke-play invitational will showcase some of the most talented young players in the world.

Golfers from 25 states, three Canadian provinces and eight other nations will compete in the second annual tournament, which will be ranked by Junior Golf Scoreboard and Golfweek and is included in the AJGA Performance Based Entry process.

Fifty-one boys will compete in the boys 16-18 division; 30 boys will compete in the boys 14-15 division; and 21 girls will compete in the girls 14-18 division. All players will have the opportunity to play like the pros, competing on the Champion course, which will be home to the Honda Classic in March 2007. Practice rounds for the Tournament of Champions will take place Nov. 17; the tournament will begin Nov. 18; and the final round will take place Nov. 19.

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 decade with the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships played each July at PGA National. 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 inaugural Tournament of Champions in 2005 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.

Among the competitors is Carson Weinand of Naples, Fla., who won the boys 14-15 division in 2005. He will compete in the boys 16-18 division this year. A number of top-10 finishers from the summer event will also return to PGA National this November. Among these are Johnny Widmer of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, who tied for second in the boys 16-18 division this summer and was ranked 121st by Golfweek at press time; Alexis Thompson, an 11-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., who placed third in the girls 16-18 division of the summer championship and was ranked 87th by Golfweek at press time; and Luciano Navilli of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who tied for second in the summer event’s boys 14-15 age division. Other competitors of note include Minghao Wang of Reunion, Fla., ranked 95th by Golfweek; and Christina Miller of Bradenton, Fla., ranked 52nd by Golfweek.

In conjunction with the Junior Golf Scoreboard, 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.optimist.org, selecting “Junior Golf” and clicking on “Live!Scoring” on the screen that follows or by going to www.juniorgolfresults.com and clicking on the tournament name.

Past Optimist Golfers Named All-Americans by the American Junior Golf Association
October 25, 2006
On Wednesday, the American Junior Golf Association announced the 2006 Rolex Junior All-American Teams. A total of 96 junior golfers – 48 boys and 48 girls – were selected for junior golf’s top honors. The AJGA began the Rolex Junior All-America Teams in 1978 to annually recognize players who have proven themselves as the world’s top junior golfers.

Included on the teams are eight golfers who participated in past Optimist championships. Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Arizona and Lisa McCloskey of Montgomery, Texas were named to the Girls First Team. Karle competed in two Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, finishing third in the girls 12-13 division in 2003 and winning the girls 14-15 division in 2004. McCloskey also played in two Optimist championships, winning the girls 10-11 division in 2003 and finishing in third place in 2004 in the girls 12-13. Both Karle and McCloskey have grown into two of the top female junior golfers in the country winning several AJGA and other junior championships and both being ranked in the top 20 in the nation. Other past Optimist golfers named as Second Team All-Americans on the girls side are Alexandra Bodemann of Palm City, Florida, Ayaka Kaneko of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Kristina Wong of Vestal, New York.

On the boys’ side, Tadd Fujikawa (Honolulu, Hawaii), also the youngest player to ever qualify and play in the US Open, was selected to the 2006 Boys Second Team. Fujikawa played in the 2004 Optimist International Junior Golf Championships finishing fourth in the boys 12-13 division. Other past Optimist participants selected to the honorable mention team are Will Griffin of San Antonio, Texas and Tommy Chung Hao Mou of Bradenton, Florida.

Former AJGA Rolex Junior All-Americans who participated in Optimist championships comprise top players on both the PGA and LPGA Tours. Of the PGA Tour’s current top-10 money leaders, Phil Mickelson, David Toms and Tiger Woods were all Rolex Junior All-Americans and champions of an Optimist championship with Woods holding a record six Optimist championships from 1984 to 1991. LPGA golfers Brandie Burton and Brittany Lincicome were also Rolex Junior All-Americans. Burton was a four-time Optimist champion in the 1980s, and Lincicome won the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in 2000.

For a complete list of Rolex Junior All-Americans, visit the American Junior Golf Association website at www.ajga.org.


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