Ford, Romero win at Windstone
Maxwell Ford and Kaleiya Romero started out strong, stayed consistent for three rounds and bested an outstanding field of competitors to win the 2018 Evitt Foundation Ringgold Telephone Company (RTC) Junior All-Star at Windstone Golf Course this past week.
Ford, a 15-year-old from Peachtree Corners, Ga. who attends Rivers Academy, a private school in Alpharetta, called the win “amazing”.
“It’s the biggest (win) I’ve ever had,” he said.
Ford hit 17 of 18 greens in the opening round on Tuesday, shooting a 6-under par 65, thanks to eight birdies, including three in a row on Nos. 14, 15 and 16.
Ford fell off his torrid pace slightly on Wednesday, but used five birdies over an eight-hole stretch to finish at 2-under 69 and take a one-stroke lead over Cartersville High standout Buck Brumlow going into Thursday’s final round.
He would play bogeyfree golf in his final 18 holes, collecting four more birdies, including a final one on No. 18, to finish with a 67 and a 12-under par 201 for the week. Brumlow (6966-69) finished three strokes back.
“I played this course in the qualifier last year and I qualified for the tournament, but I had a conflict with another tournament, so I didn’t get to play,” Ford explained. “I thought the course set up really good for me. The greens were pure, the fairways were nice and it was a good yardage.”
Like any winning golfer, Ford credited his
“I was rolling it really well all week,” he said. “I just knew that if I had a 6-footer for par that it was going in all week.”
Now with his first career AJGA win under his belt, Ford said he plans to play in the Georgia State Junior tournament and the Future Masters in Dothan, Ala. later this month in preparation for the AJGA Junior All-Star Invitational at Reynolds Lake Oconee in October.
Will Davis (Jacksonville, Fla.) finished third at 7-under (206), followed by Abhay Gupta (Concord, N.C.) at 6-under and Andrew Garger (Sharpsburg, Ga.) at 3-under.
On the girls’ side, Romero a 15-year-old from San Jose, Cal. who takes high school classes online, was the only female golfer in the field to card two separate rounds under par and ended the week at 4-under 209 for an eightshot win.
It was her third career AJGA Tour victory, having won previously in 2016 and 2017.
“This win means a lot,” she said. “Now I get to go back to the Junior All-Star Invitational at
Lake Oconee, which was really fun for me last year, and I get another champions bag, which means just so much to me.”
Romero used two birdies and an eagle in the opening round to shoot a 69 and take a one-stroke lead. The eagle came on the par-4 14th hole.
Four bogeys in the second round had her falling back toward the rest of the field, but another eagle, this one on the par-5 17th hole, got her back to even-par for the tournament as she turned in a 73.
Romero had three more bogeys in the final round, but more than made up for them with five birdies and her third eagle of the week, this one on the par-5 9th hole. The final round of 4-under 67 – the lowest of the week in the girls’ tournament – gave her the victory.
“It’s a really challenging course, but the length at 5,600 yards kind of gave me an advantage,” she explained. “I was able to eagle three holes. I reached the green in two on two par-5’s and drove the green on one par-4.
“Hopefully this win will give me a kind of a boost for my next upcoming tournaments. I know I’m playing all summer so hopefully I can get another one.”
Cindy Song (Waxhaw, N.C.) was second after
rounds of 75, 71 and 71 put her at 4-over par 217 for the week. Kimberly Shen (Johns Creek, Ga.) was third at 5-over, followed by Halle Whitney (Magnolia, Texas) and Isabella van der Biest (Kingsport, Tenn.), who tied for fourth at 6-over.
The 2018 Evitt Foundation Ringgold Telephone Company (RTC) Junior All-Star attracted youth golfers from over 20 states and several countries, including Canada and Thailand.
Joe Carter of Chattanooga was the highest local finisher as he tied for ninth in the boys’ standings at 1-under par. Ringgold’s Bennett McNabb finished in 36th place at 14-over par.
About the AJGA
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018, the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.
The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls, ages 12-19) of more than 6,900 members
from 50 states and 60 foreign countries.
Through initiatives like the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant, a financial assistance program, and Leadership Links, a service-oriented platform that teaches juniors charitablegiving skills, the AJGA fosters the growth of golf’s next generation.
TaylorMade and adidas are the AJGA’s National Sponsors, supporting the AJGA for more than 25 years. TaylorMade has served as the Official Ball of the AJGA since 2016. adidas has been the Official Apparel and Footwear of the AJGA since 2017. Rolex, in its fourth decade of AJGA sponsorship, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 900 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours.
AJGA alumni include Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Anna Nordqvist, Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson.