31 Dec 2017 American Junior Golf Tournament Round 3 Recap
Christmas came late for Myanmar’s Hein Sithu and Sweden’s Anna Nordfors as both rallied to win their respective divisions in the eighth annual American Junior Golf Tournament at the Slammer & Squire course at World Golf Village on Saturday afternoon.
For the 18-year-old Sithu, the victory was extra sweet as it moved him atop the World Junior Golf Series rankings. After finishing second to Sweden’s Adam Guerra at last year’s American Junior, Sithu went one better this year, coming from three strokes off the lead to win going away. The 18-year-old Sithu, who won a professional event in his home country three weeks ago, closed with a 5-under 67, the low round of any player in the event, and easily defeated Iceland’s Sigurdur Gardarsson and American James Ballato, the 36-hole co-leader, by five strokes.
Sithu started three strokes off the lead but overtook Ballato late on the opening nine when he crafted a two-under 34 and then saw the American suffer consecutive double-bogeys on his 8th and 9th hole. He then finished strong, holing 10-foot birdie putts at Nos. 6-7 (his 15th and 16th hole) before holing out from 70 yards for an eagle-3 at the par-5 8th hole.
“The weather was a little better today so I felt confident starting out,” Sithu said afterward. “I’m glad to win today and I’m also glad to move to No. 1 in the World Junior Golf rankings. I have been working hard for three years to get to this point.”
Nordfors rallied from three strokes back at the start of the day and holed a five-foot birdie putt on the final hole for victory in the girls division, edging Spain’s Valentina Albertazzi, the 18- and 36-hole leader in the event. Committed to attend Campbell University next August, the 18-year-old Swede carded a bogey-free 3-under 69. Going to the last hole tied for the lead, Nordfors fired a wedge approach shot to within five feet from the flagstick. After watching Albertazzi miss her birdie effort from 10 feet, Nordfors calmly stepped up and sank the winning birdie putt.
“I was really close to the pin all day and then a few of my putts starting falling in which boosted my confidence,” Nordfors said. “It was fun to win today. I had been close a few times this year so it’s very gratifying to finally pull through.”
In the boy’s 21-under division, featuring just four competitors, Germany’s Constantin Unger claimed the trophy by four strokes while in the girl’s 21-under division, American Emily Root from Jacksonville prevailed.
This year’s tournament featured many of the top juniors in the world (34 boys and 14 girls between the ages of 12 – 19) and collectively featured players from 20 different countries.