Perna Impresses with a 64; Zeng Wins Again
The FJT returned to the famed Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota for another 13-15 age division event. The course was again in perfect condition and the weather couldn't have been better.
In the girls division, Courtney Zeng, of Orlando, took a one stroke lead with a 76 (+4). Hiu Lam Vanessa Yan, of Bradenton, Kaely Krayeski, of Wellington, and Alyssa Lamoureux, of Seminole, all shot a 77 to trail Zeng by one.
In the final round the girls started on the back nine and Zeng got off to a steady start. She made seven pars and two bogies on the back nine to make the turn at 38 and increase her lead. Playing in the group ahead, Courtney's younger sister Kelsey started the day only two strokes back and shot a 39 on the back to trail her sister by three strokes with nine holes to go.
On the inward half, it was essentially a three girl race between the Zengs and Krayeski. Krayeski needed to make a few birdies on her final nine, but couldn't get any putts to drop. She finished with eight pars and a bogey for another 77 and a 154 total. Kelsey Zeng also needed to make some birdies, but only managed one on her final hole for a 76 which tied Krayeski at 154. Courtney Zeng reached her final hole, a short par 5 over a creek, and needed a par to win. She calmly made her second birdie of the day to post consecutive 76's for a two shot victory. Courtney has played in three FJT events this year and has posted two wins and a second place finish. She turns 16 this week and will move up to the older age division for the rest of the year.
In the boys division, Jeremy Perna, of Sarasota, shocked the field by shooting a first round 64 (-8) to take a six shot lead into the final round (birdies on 3, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 17 & 18). His bogey-free 64 ties the third lowest score ever shot in the 13-15 age division on the FJT (Records).
In the final round Perna had a roller-coaster front nine with a bogey on #2, birdies on #3 and #4, bogey on #5, birdie on #6 and a double bogey on #7 to make the turn at 37. As the leaders where making the turn news started to spread that Andy Zhang, of Reunion, was making a move. Zhang birdied both par 5's on the front nine to make the turn at 34 (he shot 72 in the first round). On the final nine, Perna continued to struggle by making bogies on holes #10 and #15, and a double bogey on #14 while Zhang, a couple groups ahead, was holding steady a few shots under par for the day.
Sara Bay's 17th and 18th holes are both reachable par 5's that can make for exciting finishes. On #17, Zhang just missed a birdie and knew he needed a birdie or better on the last. He hit a great drive on #18 and had a long iron into the green which he hit on the right side of the green leaving him a lengthy eagle putt. As Zhang lined up his eagle putt Perna drained a six foot birdie putt on the 17th hole. Zhang missed his eagle and tapped in for par posting rounds of 72-69--141 (-3). As Perna waited in the 18th fairway we was not sure how he stood, "I wasn't sure", Perna said, "I was struggling today and just wanted to make another birdie so I went for it in two". Perna's second shot landed on the front of green leaving him with three putts to claim his first victory. He three-putted for par and a one-stroke victory. Perna posted rounds of 65-76--140 (-4).
Robert Eisch, of Tampa, played consistent all weekend to finish in third place. Eisch birdied the his final two holes to post rounds of 71-72--143 .