Sara Bay Tests Top Juniors
Many juniors arrived at Sara Bay Country Club Saturday, for their first time and didn't think much of the golf course by looking at the scorecard and yardage books. By the end of the day, the story would be the challenging Donald Ross greens.
11 time Florida Junior Tour winner Latanna Stone would set the pace on Saturday, posting even par 72, making three birdies and three bogeys. Alexa Pano opened with 73 (+1), and Mimi Chen 74 (+2) to sit just behind Stone and join her in Sunday's final pairing.
On Sunday, all three players would get off to a slow start off of tee number 10, making multiple bogeys on the opening holes. Mimi Chen would start the good vibes with a 2, on the par-3 16th. Pano would join her as both made birdies on the back-to-back par 5's 17 & 18, Pano's two birdies would get her back to even par for the round, while Chen's three-bagger would have her go out in 37 (+1). An opening 39 (+3) by Stone would mean Pano now lead the two by two strokes entering the final 9. Alexa would play the next eight holes in even par, and that was good enough to see her lead extend to five strokes entering the final hole. Pano would find troubles on #9, reaching the green in four, and then taking three putts to post a double-bogey 7. Even with Chen's closing birdie, Pano's lead was big enough for a comfortable two stroke victory. This was Alexa's fourth win of 2016 on the Florida Junior Tour, and fifth overall.
Stewart Slayden's second nine on Saturday was the story of the weekend in the Boy's Division as it cemented a lead he would not surrender. Slayden would open with a 37 (+1) on the back nine, and then turn and bogey the 1st hole. On #2, his 11th hole, things turned quickly when Stewart holed out for an eagle 2 on the par-4. He would then ride that momentum birdieing 3, 4, 7 & 9 to close with an opening 69 (-3), good enough for a two stroke lead over Tyler Wilkes (71) and John Driscoll (71).
Sunday morning, Slayden would leave no questions as he went out in 35 (-1) to extend his lead to five strokes over Wilkes and six over Driscoll. Despite a few bogeys on the closing nine, Slayden would post a final round 74, good enough for a one-under par total and a two stroke victory over Tyler Wilkes (71-74--145) John Driscoll (71-75--146) would finish alone in 3rd place. This was Stewart Slayden's first Florida Junior Tour Victory. His older brother Spencer won the 2013 FJT 13-15 Major at Harmony Preserve and older brother Kevin was runner-up at the 2014 FJT Tour Championship at TPC Sawgrass.