Miles becomes back-to-back Georgia Junior winner
Valdes and Vilips nab second consecutive IJGT victory
SAVANNAH, Ga. – The International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) headed south to The Club at Savannah Harbor to host the Georgia Junior on Feb. 22-23, 2014. Round one was played in textbook golf weather with temperatures around 70 degrees and a day filled of sunshine. Despite temperatures dropping slightly into the 60s during the final round, the forecasted rain held out as the final groups finished play. IJGT Merit Points and national rankings were up for grabs resulting in numerous lead changes throughout the 36-hole two-day tournament. The field featured 89 juniors between the ages of 12 and 19 years old.
Going into round one in second place, Will Miles of Hilton Head Island, S.C., had not yet finished showing his best golf as he nabbed first in the Boys 15-19 Division after round two. Battling closely with Geuntae Kim of Daegu, South Korea, Miles looked to bring consistency to his second round, tallying two birdies and making par on 13 of the 16 remaining holes. Even with 4 birdies in round one, Miles still remained a stroke behind Kim. Regrouped and ready to compete, Miles kicked off his second round with two birdies in the first four holes. Miles secured his first victory on his 2013-2014 season finishing the weekend with a 71-73–144 overall score. This victory gave Miles back-to-back titles at Savannah Harbor, who was also victorious in 2013 on the same course.
“My coach, Tim Cooke, and I have been working on my iron play and really working on my transitions so that changed and was working well [for me],” said Miles.
Second place in the Boys 15-19 Division went to Aaron Terrazas of Veracruz, Mexico, and his come-from-behind effort in round two. Terrazas improved his round one score of 77 by seven strokes to secure second place, finishing the weekend with a score of 77-70–147 overall. Rounding out the top three was Kim and his score of 70-78–148 overall.
Terrazas’s round two score of 70 landed him the Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award, the award that goes to the player in each division with the lowest score in the final round of the tournament.
In the Girls Division, Ana Paula Valdes of Morelia, Mexico, lead both days as she finished her second consecutive IJGT tournament in first. Despite struggling with her irons on the first day, Valdes finished the final round strong with five birdies, three of which came on her first nine holes. Coming off of a Major Championship first-place victory at Kiawah Island in the weekend prior, Valdes made eight birdies on the tournament, the most across all divisions. Her 70-71—141 overall score positioned Valdes a commanding 10 strokes ahead of her competition.
When asked what worked well for her, Valdes commented, “My putting definitely, I wasn’t hitting the ball very well but it is always good to putt well. It helps you a lot.”
Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award winner, Kayla Kozak of Bluffton, S.C., finished second after improving on her round-one score by a staggering 11 strokes. She finished the tournament with a score of 81-70—151 overall. In third place was Thamonpat Siriko of Bangkok, Thailand, with a score of 78-74—152 overall.
Eight-time IJGT winner Karl Vilips of Melbourne, Australia, placed first in the Boys 14 & Under Division. Finishing 15 strokes ahead of his competition, Vilips approached the tournament with an aim for consistency. His 2-under-par second-round score of 70 featured four birdies and only two bogeys. Arguably his best performance of the tournament came on the back nine of round two where he made par on seven of eight holes, the eighth being a birdie. His score of 72-70—142 overall earned him the Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award.
“My approach shots into the greens were pretty accurate so it gave me the chance to make a few birdies,” said Vilips.
Chandler McDowell of Springbrook, Canada tied for second with a score of 157 overall.