The Inaugural North American Junior Amateur Championship took place at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park AZ. This 5 day event hosted 66 top level players from across the country, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This National Championship will soon be one of the largest junior golf events in the US in coming years.
After two days of stroke play the field of Boys was cut to 32 players and the Girls field to 8.
Daniel Pearson from Longmont, Colorado rolled in with a total of 9 birdies (T2), helping him secure the overal lead after the two qualifying days, at 5 under. Jake Chanen (Phoenix, Arizona) and Jake Scarrow (Dewdney, British Columbia) shot scores of 2 under to tie for second position. 36 holes wasn't quite enough for the brackets to be finalized. Max Sekulic (Rycroft, Alberta), Isak Nilsson (Margate, Florida) and Austin Hardman (Highlands Ranch, Colorado) ended up in a 3 way tie for the 31st and 32nd spots in the Boys bracket. Austin Hardman missed a putt on the second green, eliminating him from the playoff. A scorecard playoff would determine the rankings for Max Sekulic and Isak Nilsson, which resulted in Max securing the 31st spot.
Sarah Lawrence from Duvall, Washington led the field after the qualifying rounds. She showed consistancy at its finest, leading the field in most pars or better. She also rolled in the only eagle for the girls during the qualifying rounds. Maggie Cowart (Austin, Texas), Nicole Hamilton-Cross (Darfield, New Zealand) and Natalie Mullins (Eagle, Idaho) tied for 6th. A scorecard playoff determined their seeding for match play, and rounded out our bracket with Maggie earning 6th place, Nicole came in 7th and Natalie earning the 8th seed.
The 32 Boys played 9 hole matches on day three in the AM and the field was cut to 16 for the afternoon matches. The Girls field of 8 was cut to 4 after the morning matches.
Underdogs emerged victorious throughout the event, further amplifying the excitement. 26th seed Wes Moran from Colorado Springs, Colorado topped the 7th seed Jack Whisler in the opening match. He continued on to beat Camron Berndt, the 10th seed, to make his way into the quarterfinals. 13th seed Noah Moss from Rockville, Maryland strung together an impressive run, beating the 1st overall seed Daniel Pearson to make his way into the Finals.
The girls bracket was no stranger to upsets either. In the first match, 8th seed Natalie Mullins beat out her 1st place competetor, Sarah Lawrence. Allison Olberding, Ashley Menne and Payton Fehringer also won their matches, creating our semifinal matches.
4 Boys and 4 Girls became the final 2.
On the final day, Jake Chanen, the number 2 seed from Pheonix, Arizona, faced off against Noah Moss, the 13th seed from Rockville, Maryland. Jake Chanen, who is ranking #30 in the AJGA Polo Rankings for his graduation year, emerged as the victor, ending the match on hole 17 at 2&1.
On the girls side, Payton Fehringer the 5th seed from American Falls Idaho squared off against the 2nd seed Ashley Menne from Surprise, Arizona. Ashley Menne closed the match out 2 & 1 on the 17th hole, This 12 year old phenom was the youngest girl in the field and we are so proud to have her as the North American Junior Amateur Champion.