April 28, 2013

Zhang & Griffin Outlast at Old Corkscrew

Zhang Needed a Birdie on the 18th...

Seventy-six juniors in the 13-15 age division this weekend headed down to Estero, FL to face one golf's toughest challenges...Old Corkscrew Golf Club.

Old Corkscrew Golf Club, designed, by Jack Nicklaus, is one of the toughest tests in Florida. The course is always in great condition and fun to play, however, shots that miss their mark are usually penalizing or require skilled recovery shots.

The boys division played the course at approximately 6,500 yards and faced warm windy conditions. After the first round two players were tied for lead, but many players were within a few shots. Anton Serafini, from Lake Mary, shot a 73 (+1) in the first round to hold a share of the lead with Andy Zhang, from Reunion. Zhang is the 14 year old that set records last year by becoming the youngest player ever to qualify for the US Open.

In the final round, players faced windy conditions once again. Zhang started off with four straight pars and then made bogeys on the 5th and 7th holes. A birdie on the par 5 8th got him back to one over on the day, but then a bogey on the 9th left him with a 38 on the front and just a one shot lead on Logan Membrino.

Membino, from Ponte Vedra Beach, shot a 75 in the first round and had a one-over par 37 on the front. Playing in the group ahead of the first round leaders, Membrino wasn't certain where he stood heading into the back nine. He shot a very solid 37 one the back nine for a 74 on the day and a 149 total (75-74).

Standing on the 18th tee at five over par for the tournament, Zhang thought to himself that he just needed a par to win, however, he didn't know that Membrino already posted a five over par total. On the 18th, Zhang hit a hybrid off the tee and had 129 yards for his second shot. Zhang said, "I was a little off with my irons all weekend, so since I thought I just needed par, I kinda didn't think much about the shot." The lack of thought sure paid off; Zhang hit a pitching wedge to about a foot from the hole. He tapped in for birdie and claimed a one shot victory; his first FJT title this year. Zhang is now preparing for his US Open Local Qualifier scheduled on May 9th and hopes to return to the US Open Championship.

Logan Membrino finished alone in second place and Parker Manson, from Winter Springs, finished in third place.

Griffin Bests Friend By One Stroke

Old Corkscrew has always been a particular tough test for the girls division, however, a couple girls were able to post rounds in the low 70's.

In the first round, Kendall Griffin, from Sebring, got off to a hot start and posted a two over par 74 which gave her a four stroke advantage over her closest competitors.

The large lead quickly evaporated after a bogey on the the tenth (her first hole) and then a devastating 9 on the par 5 eleventh. Griffin was sure how she stood most of the day as the only girl that made a big charge was Emma Bradley.

Bradley, of Naples and friends with Griffin, struggled with her putter in round one (84), however, it caught fire on Sunday. She made birdies on the 11th, 14th, and 17th to make the turn at even par and only a few strokes behind Griffin. She kept up the great play by making birdies on the 2nd, and 6th. A one over par 73 in the final round put Bradley in the clubhouse at 157 (84-73).

Griffin steadied herself after the rough start and shot a 39 on her final nine holes which gave her an 82 on the day and a 156 total, which was just one stroke ahead of her friend, Bradley. A title for Griffin is fitting as she tied for second in her last two FJT tournaments.

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