July 27, 2013

Junior Match Play Champions Crowned

Three players earn their first State Championship at the Junior Match Play

Gabriel Lench, Tyler Strafaci and Maho Hayakawa, captured their division titles at the Junior Match Play Championship. The Waldorf Astoria Golf Club hosted the Boys’ 16-18 division while Harmony Golf Preserve hosted the Boys’ 13-15 and the Girls' 13-18. The event was held July 24-27.

Gabriel Lench, of Lake Mary, won the Boys 16-18 age division Championship after beating Philip Loeb, of Ponte Vedra Beach, 2 and 1. Lench posted rounds of 72-75 in the seeding rounds, to earn the 6th seed. In the round of 32, Lench defeated Wanjoo Lee, of Trinidad & Tobago, 1 up, and then went on to beat Davis Roche, of Jacksonville, 1 up, to earn a spot in the Quarterfinals. Lench would then defeat Dominick Vennari, of Stuart, 2 and 1, and Gaston Bertinotti, of Argentina, 1 up, to reach the finals.  In the finals Lench took the lead on the first hole with a birdie and never looked back. The match ended on the 17th hole after both players halved the hole with bogeys. Loeb made a great run to the finals after surviving a sudden death playoff to earn the 32nd seed.

Second seed, Tyler Strafaci, of Davie, won the Boys 13-15 age division Championship after defeating Zack Justice, of Orlando, 5 and 4. Strafaci got off to a hot start in the final match and never looked back. Tyler was 4 up after six holes, carding birdies on 2, 3, 5, and 6. After winning holes 8 and 9, Strafaci would take a commanding 6 up lead into the final nine holes of the match.  Justice made a slight rally by winning holes 10 and 11 to get the deficit back to 4 down, but Strafaci was too much, making an eagle on the 14th hole to close out the match.  In route to the finals Strafaci defeated, Clayton Osterhout, of Jacksonville, 3 and 1, Chase Cutshall, of West Melbourne, 1 up, and Greyson Porter, of Clearwater, 1 up.

Maho Hayakawa, of Lake Mary, won the Girls 13-18 age division Championship after defeating Athena Yang, of Winter Haven, in 19 holes.  In the final match, Hayakawa would trail 2 down after 12 holes, but after a chip in birdie on 13, the momentum shifted. Hayakawa would win 15 and 16 to take a 1 up lead into the 18th hole. After an uncharacteristic 3 putt from Hayakawa, Yang would capitalize to force extra holes. On the 19th hole Hawyakawa would make a routine par to win the title. After rounds of 70-69, Hayakawa earned the number 1 seed for the match play portion of the event.  In route to the finals Hayakawa defeated Marisa Messana, of Plantation, 2 up, and then defeated the 2013 Girls’ Junior Champion, Taylor Lyle, of Orlando, 1 up to earn her spot in the finals.

This marked the first year that the Junior Match Play Championship featured 36-holes of stroke play before the match play portion of the event. The Boys' 16-18 division was trimmed down to the low 32 players, the Boys' 13-15 division featured the low 16 scores and the Girls' 13-18 division was trimmed down to the low 8 players.

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