Teen golfers tops at Glenwild
On Wednesday, eight qualifiers for the 2006 U.S. Women’s Open teed off at the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Rolex Girls Junior Championship held at Glenwild Golf Club and Spa, but by Friday only one survived as the winner of the major tournament.
Esther Choe, 16, from Scottsdale, Ariz., is no stranger to winning. She tops the junior rankings, is a three-time Rolex Junior All-American and has won numerous junior tour events.
Choe was the clear leader throughout much of the Park City event. She compiled a three-day result of 69-67-72 to finish with a total of 208. On Friday, the final day, she was clearly ahead, coming in three strokes under second-place winner Lila Barton of Dallas, Texas. A double bogey on the 18th hole closed a larger gap that existed between the top two for most of the day.
Choe was satisfied with her results, wrapping up the event at five under for the tournament and one over par on the final day.
"It feels good to win another major," Choe said. "I was hitting the ball better this week, more consistent. I’ve been working on my swing, so I think it paid off."
Choe’s next challenge will be the Women’s U.S. Open in Newport, R.I. next weekend. After playing well on Glenwild’s challenging course, Choe may have a legitimate shot at making the final cut.
"I feel like I can make the cut," Choe said. "If I play my own game and play consistently, I can do well."
Glenwild gave the entire field a challenge throughout much of the tournament. High winds, an altitude adjustment, and tough greens were conditions unlike most of the courses on tour.
Barton, also 16, responded well, recording six birdies on Friday and finishing at 211.
"I’ve been struggling recently, so to come out here and take second to a great player is nice. Choe gave me a challenge," Barton said. "It finally all came together."
Landing such a prestigious tournament was a coup for Glenwild. The AJGA plays an event at Grey Hawk Golf Club in Arizona, which is run by the same ownership group as Glenwild, and Grey Hawk president Gregg Tryhaus and Glenwild president Del Cochran wanted to bring a high-profile event to the Park City course.
"They said, ‘This is a special place,’" said AJGA director of communications Steve Ethun. "For hosting a major tournament, obviously this facility is perfect."
Tournament and AJGA director Allison Akin said that the club’s No. 1 raking among golf courses in Utah also helped with the decision to hold the event at Glenwild.
Both organizers and the young golfers agreed that the departure from the norm that Glenwild offered, as compared to other courses, was ideal. The girls were able to experiment with their swings and putting in different conditions, which will help expand their repertoire of tournament skills.
"It’s fun to see our players experience a place they might not have considered," Ethun said.
"It was a really great test for the girls all around," Akin said.
Tournament chair Greg Clark of Park City and Glenwild membership director Mick Wydra said that the involvement of club members and the community helped the tournament run smoothly. Local volunteers lined the course helping the young athletes where needed and provided housing for participants and AJGA staff. Members also agreed to give up use of the course while the tournament was in session.
They felt it was an honor to be chosen for such a prestigious event.
"What’s not to like?" Wydra said. "They’re the future of the game. Everyone here supports it."
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