Ford, Romero win at Wind­stone

Walker County Messenger - - Sports - By Scott Herpst

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

putting.

“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.

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