April 30, 2006

Arendell, Popson Win First FJT Titles

Connor Arendell and Erica Popson each won their first Florida Junior Tour (FJT) title at PGA National Golf Club.

Playing in his first 16-18 age division event after recently turning 16, Connor Arendell, of Cape Coral, captured the division shooting a 1-under par 143. Battling strong winds of up to 40 mph, Arendell fired a 71 in the first round for the only under par round of the tournament. Arendell made the turn at even par then had two birdies on the back nine. “It was really windy the first day that I was just hoping to shoot well,” said Arendell. In the final round, Arendell eagled the 10th hole en route to recording an even par for the day. "It feels great to win my first FJT event against such good players,” said Arendell. Blayne Barber, 16, of Lake City, and Matt Cooney, 16, from Tampa, shared second place with a 145 total. Barber and Cooney shot similar scores of 73-72. Two-time Boys Junior Champion of the 13-15 age division, Wesley Graham, 16, of Port Orange, took fourth place posting a pair of 73’s. The boys division of 65 juniors played the Champions course from 6,821 yards.

Erica Popson won her first FJT title in the girls 16-18 age division by three strokes. Playing up an age division, Popson, 15, of Davenport, secured first place with two rounds of 76 including eight birdies in the final round. “The wind was hard to play in,” said Popson. “I am not used to the wind being from the middle of the state.” Popson, who won the 13-15 age division of the Junior Girls’ Championship, had confidence playing in the older age division after winning an event last week in the 16-18 age division. “I played well,” said Popson. “My iron game was good and my putting saved me a lot.” Jaime Brabb, 17, of Maitland, finished second shooting a 77-78—155. Two 11-year-olds, Kyle Roig and Alexis Thompson, tied for third place with a 156 total. The 20 girls played the Champions course from 6,116 yards.

Conducted by the Florida State Golf Association, the Florida Junior Tour (FJT) is a junior golf tour offering highly competitive and affordable competitions for juniors in Florida. The 2005-2006 season consists of 15 events for juniors, male and female, ages 13-18. Beginning September and running through May, the FJT schedule will play at some of the state’s top courses including PGA Golf Club and Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club. This year will feature two 54-hole events as well as the first four-ball event. The FJT’s focus is on quality, affordability and integrity. Tournaments consist of 36 holes conducted over 2 days, typically weekends, with an entry fee of $95. Scholarship entry is available to junior golfers unable to afford the entry fee.

Working closely with the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), FJT top competitors will receive exemptions and performance points towards AJGA events. The FJT is the only Florida tour to participate in the AJGA’s Performance Based Process. In addition, FJT events will be ranked by Golfweek/Titleist and Junior Golf Scoreboard. The FJT will maintain a points list to assist in determining Junior Player-of-the-Year and invitations to other tournaments.

To view complete pairings, tee times, and results, please see www.floridajuniortour.org.

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