69 players took to Denison Golf Club to compete for their automatic bid to the SOPGA Jr. Tour Championship. The course had a hard bite on day 1, but the SOPGA Juniors got the last laugh.
The boys 16-19 division was greeted with cool temperatures and shining sun for the first round of the Granville Jr. Classic. Ernie Mok did not let the treacherous greens of Denison Golf Club hinder his play in the first round. Opening his tournament with a birdie on his first hole set Mok in the right direction for an opening round one-over-par 72 and the solo lead. One stroke behind Mok was Ryan Schiefferle. Schiefferle played steady all day, making one birdie and three bogeys to hold on to second place. Rounding out the top three was Henry Stammen. Stammen played steady on day one and sat in third place with a five-over-par 76. Several players sat in wait, ready to fight their way to the top of the leaderboard in the final round.
The girls 16-19 division was a tight race during the opening round. Leading the way was 2022 SOPGA Player’s Series Player of the Year Ellie Lim. Lim put together an opening round ten-over-par 81 to sit alone atop the division. One stroke behind Lim was the 2022 SOPGA Junior Series Player of the Year Olivia Jones. Jones bounced back after a slow start during the opening round to sit one stroke behind Lim. Nipping at their heels was Angela Hu. Hu, making her first start of the SOPGA Jr. Tour season was two strokes behind the leading heading into the final round.
The boys 13-15 was a packed leaderboard during the opening round. Six players sat within five strokes of the first round leader Owen Heilmann. Heilmann used a strong opening nine to finish the day with a ten-over-par 81. Elijah Hall-Bromberg was two strokes back of Heilmann, After a challenging closing stretch, Hall-Bromberg was ready to go for the final round. Ryan Walton was able to knock two strokes off his back nine score en route to sitting in third place after the opening round.
The girls 13-15 division had some familiar faces fighting at the top of the leaderboard during the first round of the Granville Jr. Classic. Nikitha Suresh found herself in first place yet again after Tuesday’s opening round. Cadence Monroe-McCoy continues to lower her scores and find her name near the top of almost every leaderboard she can find. After a difficult opening nine, Monroe-McCoy kept her eyes on the prize and battled to sit in second place. Adella Pawlowski found herself in third place after the first round thanks to a timely birdie on the difficult fifteenth hole.
Players were geared up and ready to go for Wednesday’s final round. Determined to not let a slow stop hinder his tournament, Andy Steed came out firing during the second round. After a birdie on his first hole, Steed was dialed in and ready to start his march back to the top of the leaderboard. Adding two more birdies, Steed fired a score of two-under-par 69 to claim yet another win on the SOPGA Jr. Tour. Ryan Schiefferle would not let his play falter during the final round. Schiefferle got off to a slow start, but made nine pars on his way in to salvage a tie for first place, where he would eventually fall in a scorecard playoff. Ashton Hoffbauer ended the first round within striking distance of the lead. Thanks to some spectacular shots, Hoffbauer would post a five-over-par 76 and climb into third place for the tournament.
With Steed already securing his spot at the SOPGA Jr. Tour Championship, the automatic bid went to Ryan Schiefferle. “It feels really good to earn this spot,” noted Schiefferle, “I’ve always wanted to play Muirfield Village so to get that opportunity is really special.”
The girls 16-19 was a nailbiter, and players were poised to take advantage of favorable scoring conditions during the final round. Ellie Lim posted the low round of the tournament among all girls with a score of three-over-par 74 to claim her second win of the season. Sitting two strokes back coming into the day was Addi Burris. Burris has had an impressive start to the season thus far. Thanks to three birdies on the day, Burris used a six-over-par 77 to climb into solo second. After a challenging first day, Paige Weiss was looking to channel her magic from the Johnstown Jr. Open, where she posted a four-under-par 68, heading into the final round. Weiss would skyrocket up the leaderboard and finish the tournament alone in third place.
With Lim already having her spot at Muirfield, Addi Burris earned her spot on her #MarchToMuirfield in the SOPGA Jr. Tour Championship. “I’m really excited for this opportunity,” said Burris, “I had to work really hard with my short game this week to keep myself in it.”
The final round brought about a fresh scorecard for the battle that was about to unfold in the boys 13-15 division. When the dust settled, Owen Heilmann retained his spot atop the division leaderboard. A birdie on his final hole would give Heilmann a four stroke victory and his first win in as many starts on the SOPGA Jr. Tour. Two players ended the tournament in a tie for second place. Pierce Stealey would use a birdie on his final hole to tie for second place and ultimately win the scorecard playoff. Elijah Hall-Bromberg continued his consistent play for the tournament to claim the bronze medal and his second top three finish in as many events.
The girls 13-15 division would be a battle til the very end for the podium. Nikitha Suresh would not let the lead slip away. Thanks to a great opening nine, Suresh found herself with yet another gold medal making it back-to-back wins. Cadence Monroe-McCoy battled through the adversity of tournament golf to claim another top five finish, marking her seventh top five in seven events. Sneaking her way into the top three during the final round was Caylee Lattimer. Lattimer improved by six shots during her final round to earn the bronze medal.
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Thank you to Denison Golf Club and their fantastic staff for hosting the SOPGA Jr. Tour and congratulations to all of our players this week!