Plata, Howe Earn 2021 Patriot All-America Titles After Stellar Final Round at the Wigwam Golf Club
by David Bataller
Director of Communications | Arizona Golf Association
LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – Michigan State University senior Valery Plata and Georgia Tech University senior Connor Howe went low in Friday’s final round of the 11th annual Patriot All-America to win their respective divisions. Plata birdied 18 for a -4 (66) to finish off a three-shot win at -12 overall on The Wigwam Golf Club Blue Course, while Howe tied the Patriot All-America low round mark of -7 (63) to finish -15 overall on Golf Course, also good for a three-shot victory. View the final leaderboard here.
“I didn’t know where I stood with the rest of the field coming up 18, so I just wanted to give myself a good look and not make any big numbers, and that’s what I did,” said Howe, whose 255-yard albatross on the par-5 10th hole shot him to the top of the leaderboard, part of a -7 (28) back nine. “I knew I needed to get something going – I didn’t know how much – but the albatross really kicked things into gear.”
“It feels really special – I’m just really happy to be able to get it done,” said Plata, a native of Floridablanca, Colombia, and a former Big 10 Player of the Year. “It was a hard day today at the beginning so I’m just happy that things worked out my way today.”
Plata came into the final round tied for the lead, but a double bogey on the par-5 3rd hole of The Wigwam Blue Course dropped her down the leaderboard. She would rebound to make six birdies in her last 15 holes to win the inaugural Women’s Division, three shots clear of Clemson University junior Ivy Shepherd at -9. Arizona State University sophomore Ashley Menne finished alone in third at -8, with Sabrina Iqbal of Texas Christian University, Caley McGinty of Oklahoma State University and Natasha Andrea Oon of San Jose State University tying for fourth. But no one could catch Plata.
“I was pretty confident on my approach shots,” said Plata. “I wasn’t hitting it all that great, but I hit a couple good ones, and then the putter was rolling in pretty well so I think that helped me a lot.”
Over on The Wigwam Gold Course, Howe made the turn at -8, two shots off the lead, before landing a 3-iron just short of the hole, finding the cup after one hop. He would go on to make five more birdies to finish the back nine at -7, the lowest closing nine in Patriot All-America history.
“I just started putting well – I made some putts on 12 and 13 and I had some good looks at birdie – and I capitalized,” said Howe. “Howe quote.”
Palmer Jackson of the University of Notre Dame shot a second consecutive -3 (67) to finish alone in second at -12 overall. Nick Lyerly of UNC-Greensboro, first round leader Chase Sienkiewicz of the University of Arizona, Mason Andersen of Arizona State University and 36-hole leader Hunter Eichhorn of Marquette University all tied for third at -11 overall.
The Patriot All-America honors fallen or severely wounded soldiers in partnership with the Folds of Honor Foundation. The golfers received a golf bag donated by PING Corporation at the event’s opening ceremony this past Sunday emblazoned with the name and branch of service of a fallen or injured military member whom they shall represent. Participants also received a card with the soldier’s story so they can be familiar with that soldier.
For all information on the Patriot All-America, visit patriotallamerica.com. For in-depth extended coverage of the Patriot All-America, follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
About The Patriot All-America Invitational
Featuring golf’s stars of tomorrow, The Patriot All-America is regarded as a top amateur event nationally, attracting PING All-America golfers from all three NCAA Divisions, NAIA and NJCAA rankings as well as from universities outside the United States. The Arizona Golf Association (AGA), JDM Partners and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) partnering with the Folds of Honor Foundation to host the tournament. For more information visit patriotallamerica.com.
About Wigwam Golf Club
The Wigwam’s three 18-hole championship golf courses offer a diversity that cannot be matched by any other Arizona resort, with 54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Gold Course has hosted many signature tournaments over the years, including numerous U.S. Open Qualifiers, U.S. Amateur Qualifiers, several NCAA Regional Championships and the annual Patriot All-America Invitational, one of the top amateur competitions in the world. The 7,430 yard, par 72 track has also received various industry awards and accolades since opening in 1965, including being named one of the “Top 100 Golf Courses in America.” In December 2009, The Wigwam (including the golf courses and resort property) was purchased by JDM Partners, led by sports icon Jerry Colangelo. For more information, please visit www.wigwamgolf.com.
About Arizona Golf Association
The Arizona Golf Association has been serving amateur golfers in Arizona since 1923 when it held the first State Amateur Championship. Today, it is licensed by the United States Golf Association to provide handicapping and course rating services to member clubs, to provide tournament and rules expertise and to oversee the application of amateur status.
About Golf Coaches Association of America
Established in 1958, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) is the professional organization of golf coaches. The GCAA’s mission is to support its member coaches by creating educational opportunities, providing resources, and promoting its members with the purpose of enhancing their overall performance as coaches, mentors, and teachers. The GCAA also recognizes the excellence and achievements of its members and their student-athletes in academic, athletic and civic endeavors.
About The West Valley Mavericks
The West Valley Mavericks Foundation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit) was born of the imagination and vision of a group of community leaders late in 2012. The West Valley Mavericks (or just ‘Mavericks’) is a group led by gentlemen who believe that the West Valley is an incredible place to live, work, and play. The Mavericks’ charter is to advance charity, culture, community, and commerce in the West Valley of Phoenix. As an organization, we use individual contributions, fundraising events, business sponsorships, ticket sales donations, as well as hands-on community service to raise money to assist children and families, help people in need, and improve the quality of life in our West Valley communities. For more information please visit westvalleymavericksfoundation.org.
2019 San Tan Amateur
Registration for the 2019 San Tan Amateur, on February 23th-24th, is now open
Remembering an Arizona Golf Hall of Famer
Born and raised in Dalton, Massachusetts, Bill Emerson attended the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, a Division of the University of Massachusetts. He received an Associate’s Degree in Turf Grass Management in May 1961.
From 1962 through 1982, Emerson maintained some of the finest golf clubs in the Mid-Atlantic including Chevy Chase Club, Towson G&CC, Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, Crofton GC, and Stockbridge GC. He was a driving force within the Mid-Atlantic Association of Golf Course Superintendents. He served as President of the Association in 1977 and 1978. Emerson also served in other organizations, including the Maryland Turf Grass Council and the O.J. Noer Turf Grass Foundation. In 1982, he earned the title of Certified Golf Course Superintendent.
In 1983, Emerson moved west to Arizona and became the superintendent of Paradise Valley Country Club. During his twelve years at the club, he revolutionized golf course maintenance standards. Bill recognized the need for turfgrass research in Arizona and, along with other golf industry leaders and six private clubs developed the Par Committee. This committee was instrumental in funding University of Arizona turfgrass research and working with the Arizona Department of Water Resources on manageable water regulations.
Emerson became a leader among the Cactus and Pine, providing organization and development to the growing organization and was instrumental in taking it from a loosely structured chapter to an organized group of industry leaders. He served many years as the Cactus and Pine Treasurer. He was also the first President of the Cactus and Pine Foundation. In 1996, Bill received the Art Snyder Award for his distinguished service.
After leaving Paradise Valley Country Club in 1995, Bill worked with several golf-related management companies (Green Releaf, Golf Sat, Floratine and Arizona Sport Turf) bringing revolutionary golf course technology to many golf courses. These products seemed far-fetched in the 90’s; but have become mainstays in today’s practices. Bill has never stopped mentoring or working with today’s Superintendent and being a voice of reason.
Bill’s contribution to Arizona golf cannot be pinpointed to one monumental event. Bill has consistently and purposefully raised the standard, bringing all the entities of golf together here in the Southwest. His leadership has spearheaded education, awareness, and growth in the state of Arizona.
Jackson Claims Victory at the 2018 Patriot All-America
2018 Patriot All-America Champion, Isaiah Jackson
Litchfield Park, AZ- After three days and 54 holes Isaiah Jackson, a junior at the University of Memphis, walked off the 18th green as the 2018 Patriot All-America Champion. He fired an even-par-70 on the final round, to end at five-under 205 with the victory.
After firing a 67 in round one, Jackson shared the lead with 2017 Patriot All-America Champion, Mason Overstreet. Jackson headed into the final round in the co-lead after his second-round 68.
With the challenging weather conditions on the third and final round, Jackson mixed four bogeys with two birdies on the front nine, managing to take sole possession of the lead.
“I knew the conditions were going to be tough. Today’s probably the coldest and toughest conditions I’ve played, except for about three years ago in Atlanta.”
At one shot ahead of Grand Valley State University junior, Alex Scott, Jackson managed to sink three birdies with a sole bogey on the final nine to determine his victory by three shots.
“I just tried to stick to my game plan, stay within myself, continue hitting good shots and making putts, and that was pretty much it. Coming off 18, everybody started clapping when I hit the par putt, so I just assumed I had won you know. I didn’t know I was in the lead by three, so it feels pretty good,” said the 2018 Patriot All-America Champion.
Finishing tied for second, Alex Scott from Grand Valley State University and Quade Cummins from the University of Oklahoma carded a three-day total of 208. UCLA senior, Jack Ireland, overcame the unfriendly weather, firing a seven-under 63, the tournament record low-round. Entering the day 12 shots behind the leader, the Bruin moved up the leaderboard to tie for 5th.
This prestigious tournament is unique from other collegian tournaments because the field of 84 is aligned with a fallen or wounded soldier who has made the ultimate sacrifice. Each player is provided with a PING golf bag bearing the name and a story card of an American soldier. At the conclusion of the tournament, each bag is shipped back to the golfer’s school, then auctioned off to benefit the Folds of Honor Foundation.
Isaiah Jackson honored his great-grandfather, U.S. Army Private First Class Willie B. McGill who made the ultimate sacrifice in combat during World War II.
“Being able to represent a fallen soldier or injured soldier, that is something you do not see a lot. It makes it even better that I am representing my great-grandfather on the bag this week,” said Jackson.
Along with his 2018 Patriot All-America victory, Jackson will receive a sponsor exemption to the 2019 Air Capital Classic played in June at Crestview Country Club in Wichita, Kansas.
With a combined effort from the Arizona Golf Association, Golf Coaches Association of America and the Wigwam Golf Resort, this marks the 8th Patriot All-America Invitational. The field features PING All-Americans from the previous season in NCAA Divisions I, II and III, as well as All-Americans from the NAIA, NJCAA and AJGA ranks.