Jones Hoists Trophy
Not many people can play 56 holes of golf with one sleeve of three golf balls like Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Champion, Kaeli Jones, of Sumterville. Jones, who was an avid Florida Junior Tour player captured her first FSGA Championship win after posting three consistent under-par rounds of 71-69-70.
After round one, Jones sat one stroke back from Teresa Conroy, of Tallahassee, who posted a two under-par, 70, to take the early lead. Jones moved up the leaderboard to tie Anastasia Carter for first place, after round two. Conroy fell from the top after struggling to a second round 76, while Carter, of Saint Augustine, carded an impressive four under-par, 68 to advance to first place. Jones shot her low round of the tournament in the second round, 69, to tie Carter heading into the final round.
The final round was far from uneventful as Carter and Jones battled to capture first place alone. Jones carded birdies on holes three and five with one bogey on the eighth hole to turn at one under-par, 35. Carter played steady golf to start her round with all pars until a bogey on the ninth hole for a one over-par, 37. Carter birdied holes 14 and 15 on the back nine as Jones had only one birdie on the 16th hole. The two teed up on the final hole with Kaeli holding onto a one shot lead. Both girls hit less than perfect drives, Kaeli would play her second shot from a water hazard and Anastasia would be hitting from a waste bunker. With no fear Jones took off her shoes and entered the hazard to hit her second shot. Anastasia struck her second shot into the hazard leaving a difficult third shot. Kaeli hit her third shot just over the back of the green and got up and down for par as Anastasia carded a double-bogey seven to finish. Jones finished the Championship with a six under-par 201 and a three stroke victory. Jenny Kim, Nicole Aurtrique, and Anastasia Carter tied for second place at 231 (-3). Alyssa Lamoureux finished in fifth place after an exceptional final round of 69 for a 214 (-2) total. First round leader, Conroy took sixth place at even par 216.
Reflecting on her first Championship win, Jones stated that the most difficult part of the tournament was the greens. "You could hit a really good putt but it could slip the greens and not drop.” At the young age of 19, Jones has a strong future of golf ahead of her. What does this win mean for her? Jones says, “This means that my game is competitive enough to compete with the best in Florida. This is a big confidence boost for my game. I feel great.”