Wang captures CJGA World Junior Challenge
USA Sweeps the World Junior Challenge
Published on Wednesday, Jan. 02, 2013 10:59AM EST
The Canadian Junior Golf Association (CJGA) wrapped up the 20th annual CJGA World Junior Challenge, presented by Golfweek at Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club on December 30th in cold Canadian-like weather.
Despite 53 holes of golf, it all came down to the eighteenth green on the Copperhead course where Robin Wang (Lake Mary, FL) had to sink a five-foot birdie putt to avoid a playoff in the Boys 15-19 Division. Sam Jung (Chantilly, VA) ran away with the Boys 14 & Under Divisions, while Maria Alejandra Villalobos (Gainsville, FL) held onto her second round lead for a three-stroke victory.
“I was nervous,” admitted Wang, in regards to standing over the five-foot tournament-winning putt. Renato Paratore (Italy) was playing in the same group and birdied seventeen to earn a share of the lead. “I knew I had to hit a close approach,” stated Wang, “I told myself I can do this, I can hit this close the hole.”
Italians Renato Paratore and Pietro Crema put pressure on Wang as Paratore shot 72 (+1), while Crema posted a 70 (-1) to pull within one of the lead during the final round.
Villalobos had a five-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Girls 11-19 Division.
“I prepared by trying to relax,” explained Villalobos. “I went swimming and spent time with my family.”
With that said, Alice Barbieri (Windermere, FL) and Ayelen Irizar (Argentina) had no intention of letting Villalobos run away with the lead. Posting 77 (+6) and 76 (+5) respectively, they managed to reduce the lead to a mere three strokes.
“I’m really happy,” explained Villalobos. “It’s a feeling that’s hard to express. You work so hard for it, and it’s nice when it pays off.”
In the Boys 14 & Under Division, Jung posted 71 (E) to establish a 10-stroke victory.
“In the morning it was cold, and my hands were frozen making it hard to putt,” explained Jung. “I just tried to play well and keep ahead of my competitors who were gaining on me.”
Sachin Kumar (Trinidad & Tobago) finished in second place, with Cao Sen (Lake Mary, FL) rounding out third place.
There consolation final took place on the Island Course. Sofia Idoyaga (Argentina) and Devin Solar (West Nyack, NY) won the Girls Division and Boys 15-19 Division respectively. Ryan Hicks (Clearwater, FL) and Olivier Wartique (Belgium) tied atop the Boys 14 & Under consolation championship.
The CJGA World Junior Challenge, now in its 20th year, is one of the marquee events conducted by the Canadian Junior Golf Association. Since the inaugural tee-off in 1993, the World Junior Challenge has seen thousands of junior golfers, representing over 30 countries, pitted against one another in a friendly, yet competitive environment held at some of Florida’s most prolific golf courses. This highly recognized event, typically held during the winter holiday season, offers Canadian and International juniors alike the opportunity to compete in an internationally ranked tournament while experiencing the culture of Florida golf.