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Sean O’Donnell Wins Arizona Stroke Play Championship

Sean O’Donnell won the 2021 Arizona Stroke Play Championship Sunday, turning in a final-round 3-under 69, and edging the 54-hole leader Chris Kamin by two shots at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club.

Four-time AGA major Champion Jake Chanen and 2021 AGA Championship winner Cameron Barzekoff finished tied for third at 4-under, respectively, five shots shy of the champion.

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After matching third-round 68’s with Kamin, O’Donnell headed into the final round three shots back.

“I started three back and just really had to stay patient,” said O’Donnell, the 2020 AGA Championship winner. “I knew I wasn’t going to go out and make seven birdies today (like his third round).”

O’Donnell shrunk Kamin’s lead to two strokes after converting one of his three birdies on the day at the par-4 second hole. Kamin responded with birdies on holes 3 and 5, increasing his lead to four shots – the largest lead of the tournament. With a bogey on hole 6, Kamin finished the front nine with a 1-under 35, still managing a three-shot lead at the turn.

But steady play from O’Donnell who see him vault Into the lead soon after, as Kamin carded a bogey on 12 and a triple on 13.

“I had a lot of easy pars today – didn’t have to struggle too much,” said O’Donnell. “I minimized mistakes and kind of let everyone else make a couple mistakes.”

Kamin went on to mix two birdies with a bogey, finishing his round at 2-over 74.  With a pair of birdies on holes 13 and 18, O’Donnell finalized his two-shot victory, finishing at 9-under (69-73-68-69–279).

“I didn’t really have my best stuff today – I felt like I hit it significantly better yesterday and really plotted myself around and avoided bunkers,” O’Donnell said about his third under-par round of the four-round event. “The last two or three holes, I put some good shots together to close it out. I didn’t make a bogey, so really good up-and-downs. Anytime I missed a green I made sure it was in a good spot.”

The win adds to and already impressive amateur résumé for the Glendale, Ariz.-native.

“In Arizona, definitely No. 1 for sure,” the champion said, referring to where this win ranks amongst his other victories. “I’ve been wanting to get one of these Kachinas for a while – it’s been on my goal list for three or four years and I’m very pleased to finally get it done.”

He picked up his first major victory at the 2020 AGA Championship after a tournament-low round 5-under 66.  The 2021 Short Course Champion, O’Donnell has already picked up two top-10 finishes and two wins in the four events recorded this season. The five-time USGA qualifier credits his improved course management skills for his consistent superb play.

“I’ve just really been working on course management a lot – really knowing when to pick my spots and when not to try to take on too much,” said O’Donnell. “For me, it’s just minimizing mistakes.”

 

by Brianna Gianiorio

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Inaugural LNGA Mid-Am/Senior tees off at Anthem Golf & Country Club

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STASI, JOHNSON LEAD MID-AMATEUR; INGRAM PACES SENIOR AMATEUR
Inaugural LNGA Championships Begin in Arizona

ANTHEM, Ariz. (April 19) – Four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, of Oakland Park, Fla., and Gretchen Johnson, Portland, Ore., both carded even-par 72 to share the lead in the Mid-Amateur Championship and highly decorated Sara Ingram, of Nashville, Tenn., shot 3-over 75 to pace the Senior Amateur Championship of the Ladies National Golf Association (LNGA) Thursday at Anthem Golf & Country Club.
“It a great golf course which tests you,” said Stasi, an eight-time Florida Amateur Player of the Year. “But the wind died down a little today from the practice rounds and I could attack a few more pins.”
Stasi posted five birdies against three bogeys and a double bogey and finished her up-and-down round with two birdies in the last four holes. Johnson, the 2017 and 2018 Oregon Golf Association Tournament of Champions winner, steadied her way around the course with 16 pars and a birdie and a bogey.
“I kept it where the lawnmower goes most of the day,” said Johnson, a semifinalist at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. “It’s kind of tight, like target golf and I hit a lot of greens and I got it up and down every time.”
Ingram, a 3-time winner of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, was three-over through four holes but overcame her early struggles to gain a one-stroke lead over 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Am winner Corey Weworski, of Carlsbad, Calif. Past U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur champion Mina Hardin, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Evelyn Orley, of Cardiff, Calif., trail Ingram by two.
“I had to work hard today,” said Ingram, the three-time USA Curtis Cup team member who will serve as captain of the team in the Match this August in Wales. “It was not an easy 75. I hit some good shots. My game was better than it’s been since coming back two years.”
Lauren Greenlief, of Ashburn, Va., the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and a semifinalist in 2019, and Dawn Woodard, of Greer, S.C., an eight-time winner of the South Carolina State Amateur and three-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur medalist, trailed the Mid-Am leaders by two strokes with two-over-par 74s.
Both championships are 54-hole, stroke-play events in their inaugural year and are conducted by the Ladies National Golf Association. The Mid-Amateur Championship is for players 25-years-old and up with an index in the World Handicap System not exceeding 10.4. The Senior Amateur Championship is for players 50-year-old and up with an index in World Handicap System not exceeding 14.4. The Wilma Cup, in honor of the departed women’s golf advocate and LNGA leader Wilma Gilliland, will be presented to the Mid-Amateur and Senior Amateur champions and remain in their custody for a year. Medals will also be awarded to the runner-up and third-place finisher in each championship.

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NOTES
• Ingram is a member of the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame and the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame. She came back to golf after a long hiatus to serve as the general chairman of the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and to serve as Curtis Cup captain. She won the 2020 Tennessee Women’s Senior Amateur.
• Woodard and Stasi will play together at the 6th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship next week at Maridoe Golf Club in Dallas.

QUOTES
Meghan Stasi: “It is a beautiful venue. The LNGA is doing a great job. It’s fun to have a solid tournament in April.”
“It’s great to be back with friends. We are all talking about where you can go and what you have to do to go anywhere. But, you have to be smart and follow the rules.”
Gretchen Johnson: “Where I’m from in Portland, I’m not used to the grain and the influence of the mountains, but I made a lot of short putts. The firmness of the greens puts a premium on lag putting.
“The goal is to play a little better each day. If I can continue to keep it in play and putt well everything else should fall into place. There are a lot of great players here. It may be a small field, but it is a strong field with a lot of good players.”
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ABOUT THE LADIES NATIONAL GOLF ASSOCIATION (LNGA)
The LNGA is a national volunteer women’s amateur golf association founded in Kansas City Mo. in 1927 to promote amateur golf and good sportsmanship among women golfers and junior girls. Our events are hosted at venues across the United States. The events spotlight the nationally prominent amateur golfer that may be eligible for Curtis Cup team selection along with the skilled players from around the world. The LNGA Amateur, the Women’s Mid-Amateur and the Senior Women’s Amateur are included in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) list of golf championships.

Words by: Pete Kowalski
Media contact: Pete Kowalski, [email protected]; 908-216-8435

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AGA President Bob McNichols named 2020 Golf Executive of the Year by AJGA

Read the full article on the AJGA website

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Pikulthong Picks up Second AJGA Title at PING Heather Farr Classic

Anawin Pikulthong of Gilbert, Arizona secured his second American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) victory at the PING Heather Farr Classic at Longbow Golf Club on Sunday with a final-round 67. He finished the weekend 14-under after turning in rounds of 67-65-67 to defeat Scottsdale native Preston Summerhays.

“It means a lot to win this. It shows that all the hard work I’ve been putting in the past few months has paid off. This is a tough field so winning this shows that my game is in a good place,” the champion said.

The 16-year-old Arizona State verbal commit began the final three shots ahead of  Preston Summerhays, a 2021 Arizona State commit. Summerhays cut the lead to two after turning in a  2-under 33, his third consecutive bogey free round on the front nine – but the Hamilton Husky Pikulthong increased his lead to 5 after converting birdies on holes 11 and 12. Both junior golfer phenoms went on to birdie three more holes to finish their final rounds 4-under 67. Pikulthong tallied 18 birdies during the 54-hole tournament to clinch the victory by three shots over the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur Champion.

This marks Pikulthong’s second AJGA victory in the last year since picking up the 2020 AJGA Thunderbird Junior All-Star title. He is currently ranked No. 26 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and ranked No. 1 in the World Rankings for the class of 2023 according to Junior Golf Scoreboard.  In additional to winning numerous individual junior titles, he helped lead the Hamilton Huskies to an AIA State Div. I Championship title in 2019.  After graduating in 2023 from Hamilton Prep, Pikulthong plans on advancing his golf career with the Arizona State Sun Devil Men’s Golf Team as the class of 2027.

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