Choi wins girls division, Jennings repeats as boys champ in 11-13 tourney. McClain, Pevny tops in 14-18 events
by Gary Baines
Jordan Jennings came a long way to compete in the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado’s 11-13 Junior Series Championship — from Montrose, to be precise — but he made the trip well worth it.
The 13-year-old eighth-grader not only won the boys tournament Sunday at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora, but in doing so he became the first two-time champion — boy or girl — in the history of the 11-13 Junior Series Championship.
“It feels good to defend my title and become (the first) kid in Colorado to do it,” Jennings said. “This was one of the big tournaments I was aiming for.”
Meanwhile, Sofia Choi (above) of Littleton claimed the girls title with a five-shot cushion at CommonGround.
Jennings (left) closed with a 3-under-par 68 Sunday, leaving him in a tie at 3-under 139 with first-round leader Ryan Sangchompuphen of Denver, a member of the Hale Irwin Elite Player Program at CommonGround.
In the playoff — at the 10th hole at CommonGround — both players hit excellent approach shots on the par-4. But after Sangchompuphen’s 9-foot birdie attempt skirted the right side of the cup, Jennings tapped in his birdie from a mere 2 feet to repeat as champion.
Including the playoff, Jennings birdied four of his last five holes on Sunday — and six overall for the day. Down the stretch, he sank birdie putts of 12 feet, 20 feet, a tap-in, and 2 feet.
“I told my dad with four holes left, ‘I’m going to make four birdies in the last four holes (of regulation).’ I came up a little short,” he said with a smile.
For Jennings, Sunday marked another highlight of a memorable summer. In late July, he finished third out of a field of 88 in the boys 12-13 division for the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. He hopes to add another highlight next month when he competes against older players in the final JGAC major of the year, the Junior Tour Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club.
Sangchompuphen (left), who had shot a 6-under-par 29 on the back nine Saturday, dropped into a playoff with Jennings after posting a 38 on that same nine on Sunday. He had been 7 under par overall through 29 holes, but gave back four strokes on the three-hole stretch from 12 through 14 Sunday.
Jeffrey Zhou of Greenwood Village finished third among the 18 boys with a 140 total. Traejan Andrews of Windsor was fourth at 142.
In the girls tournament, Choi, 12, went wire-to-wire for the victory. She matched the best round of the tournament by firing a 4-over-par 75 on Sunday, giving her a 12-over-par 154 total. She highlighted the second round with birdies on two par-3s.
Choi (left), who finished 23rd in her age group at the U.S. Kids Golf World Championships at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina last month, called Sunday’s win the biggest of her young career. Still, she took her success all in stride.
“It’s really fun, but it’s like any other tournament,” she said of the Junior Series Championship. “I was hitting it really, really good today.”
The victory was the seventh-grader’s fifth of the year in JGAC’s tournaments.
Katelyn Lehigh of Loveland took second place at 159 after also carding a 75 on Sunday, making four birdies in the process. Anju Ogi of Arvada placed third in the 10-player field with a 162 total after shooting a second-round 79.
Pevny, McClain Victorious in 14-18 Tourneys: The 14-18 Junior Series Championship also concluded on Sunday, with Jack Pevny of Aspen and Natasha Brandy McClain of Castle Pines claiming the boys and girls titles, respectively, at Pelican Lakes in Windsor.
Pevny prevailed out of an eight-player field by shooting back-to-back rounds of 76, giving him an 8-over-par 152 total. He made 15 pars, two bogeys and a double bogey on No. 18 Sunday.
Ben Carrington of Littleton placed second, four behind Pevny, after closing with a 75 Sunday that featured three birdies.
The girls 14-18 tournament came down to a playoff, with McClain overcoming first-round leader Jessica Zapf of Windsor for the top spot.
McClain closed with a 78, while Zapf had an 80, leaving both at 13-over-par 157.
Aili Bundy of Fort Collins missed the playoff by two strokes after playing the last three holes in 4 over par. She finished third at 159 after posting the best score of the tournament, a second-round 76.
In the 10 & Under Junior Series Championship, held last month in Boulder, Andre Dumonteil of Centennial and Ashleigh Wilson of Highlands Ranch won the boys and girls titles, respectively.
JGAC Junior Series Championships
* — indicates won playoff
11-13 Boys (At CommonGround GC in Aurora)
1. *Jordan Jennings, Montrose, CO, 71-68-139 -3
2. Ryan Sangchompuphen, Denver, CO, 66-73-139 -3
3. Jeffrey Zhou, Greenwood Village, CO, 67-73-140 -2
4. Traejan Andrews, Windsor, CO, 73-69-142 E
5. Gage Messingham, Arvada, CO, 68-75-143 +1
6. Nicholas Pevny, Aspen, CO, 74-75-149 +7
7. Luke Wright, Littleton, CO, 76-75-151 +9
8. James Clark, Lamar, CO, 75-78-153 +11
9. Jeffrey Nelson II, New Castle, CO, 82-75-157 +15
10. Tyler Tyson, Arvada, CO, 80-78-158 +16
11. Thomas (TJ) Hicks, Greenwood Village, CO, 81-78-159 +17
12. Mario Dino, Denver, CO 81-79-160 +18
13. Jake Chesler, Firestone, CO, 82-79-161 +19
T14. Zaden Gomez, Westminster, CO, 89-76-165 +23
T14. Yusuke Ogi, Arvada, CO, 85-80-165 +23
16. Zachary Tyson, Arvada, CO, 87-81-168 +26
17. Alex Chitkoksoong, Aurora, CO, 83-87-170 +28
18. Jackson Rottschafer, Centennial, CO, 91-85-176 +34
11-13 Girls (At CommonGround GC in Aurora)
1. Sofia Choi, Littleton, CO, 79-75-154 +12
2. Katelyn Lehigh, Loveland, CO, 84-75-159 +17
3. Anju Ogi, Arvada, CO, 83-79-162 +20
4. Eva Pett, Denver, CO, 88-78-166 +24
5. Merielle Gojo, Cherry Hills Village, CO, 82-87-169 +27
6. Kaylee Chen, Highlands Ranch, CO, 85-89-174 +32
7. Alyssa Chin, Greenwood Village, CO, 87-90-177 +35
8. Abigail Aeschleman, Highlands Ranch,CO 99-98-197 +55
WD. Zoey Rodriguez, Pueblo, CO
WD. Gisella Lagrimas, Castle Rock, CO
14-18 Boys (At Pelican Lakes GC in Windsor)
1. Jack Pevny, Aspen, CO, 76-76-152 +8
2. Ben Carrington, Littleton, CO, 81-75-156 +12
3. Travis Menke Jr., Denver, CO, 84-80-164 +20
T4. Riley Rottschafer, Centennial, CO, 93-82-175 +31
T4. Beam Boonta, Centennial, CO, 84-91-175 +31
WD. Hayden Wehe, Alamosa, CO
JWD. Jacob Mason, Westminster, CO
JWD. Colter Zwieg, Aspen, CO
14-18 Girls (At Pelican Lakes GC in Windsor)
￼1. *Natasha Brandy McClain, Castle Pines, CO, 79-78-157 +13
2. Jessica Zapf, Windsor, CO, 77-80-157 +13
3. Aili Bundy, Fort Collins, CO, 83-76-159 +15
4. Caitlin O’Donnell, Centennial, CO, 85-85-170 +26
5. Katherine Malcolm, Parker, CO, 102-85-187 +43
6. Amanda Westrick, Northglenn, CO, 93-98-191 +47