Memorial junior Whitsett wins Western Junior golf title

By: samjack

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Memorial golfer Cory Whitsett added the 91st Western Junior title to his growing resumé on Friday, coasting to a 2-under par 68 to close out the 72-hole championship at 12-under par, four strokes in front of Tyler McCumber and T.J. Vogel.

Playing at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in St. Simons Island, Ga., Whitsett started the day two shots in front of Vogel and four ahead ofMcCumber. When Vogel sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the par 4, 13th, Whitsett’s lead fell to just one, but on the par 5, 15th, Whitsett two-putted for birdie while Vogel bogeyed. Three routine pars on the final three holes sealed the victory for Whitsett.

“I’m really pleased,” said Whitsett, 16. “Today was a test of patience. I didn’t really get much to drop and didn’t hit the ball as well as I had been. I putted well, but nothing really went in I didn’t have any bogeys, though.”

A pair of bogeys on the final four holes stopped Vogel from putting pressure on Whitsett.

“I was right there through 14 holes,” said Vogel, 17, of Cooper City, Fla., who finished Friday’s round at even-par 70. “I was playing a decent round; then I made a few bad swings that led to bogeys. You can’t bogey par 5s and win.”

McCumber, 17, of Ponte Vedra, Fla., matched Whitsett’s 68 but never could put pressure on the leader.

“My mindset wasn’t to ‘catch’ him, but to play each shot, one at a time, and see how it all added up,” said McCumber, whose father PGA TOUR player Mark McCumber caddied for him. “But I’m super happy with the week. This was my best tournament this year by far.”

For Whitsett, who is second in the current Polo Golf rankings, adding the Western Junior the oldest national junior championship to his list of wins was especially satisfying. He also won the 5A state golf title in May.

“There have been some great players win this and some who played in it and didn’t win,” said Whitsett, the 2007 U.S. Junior champion. “To win it gives me a really good feeling. I really hit the ball well this week, especially under pressure down the stretch. It really feels good.”

Course Record 61Also “feeling good” was China native Zhong Yang “Sam” Fu, 17, who burned the Seaside Course with a record round of 33-28-61, carding eight birdies, an eagle and one bogey to best 2002 Western Junior competitor Rob Grube’s previous mark of 62.

“After the third round, I almost gave up,” said Fu, who also has Canadian citizenship and attends the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

“I was thinking about nothing today. I played more aggressive, aimed every shot at the pin and made the putts.”

The Western Junior Championship, conducted by the Western Golf Association, is the oldest national junior tournament in the United States and has been a testing ground for future stars, such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Ben Curtis, Jeff Maggert and Fuzzy Zoeller.

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