Blanchard Wins First AGA Major of the Year at Aguila Golf Course
LAVEEN, Ariz. – Brian Blanchard needed a playoff, but brought home the first AGA Major title of the year Sunday at Aguila Golf Course, shooting -7 overall after a final round even-par 72 at the AGA Championship. Blanchard’s final round tally made up a three-shot deficit, forcing a playoff with 54-hole leader Bryan Hoops and Adam Walicki. He would make birdie on the first playoff hole to triumph in the blustery conditions at Aguila for his first AGA tournament victory, doing so in major fashion by carding rounds of 70-74-65-72.
Blanchard, of Desert Forest Golf Club, and Kurt Watkins were the only players to card rounds of 65 in the competition, with Watkins coming in the first round and Blanchard’s in the third. Going low seemed to give Blanchard some much-needed momentum going into the final round, where he would eventually outlast two former AGA players of the year en route to victory.
Full AGA Championship Leaderboard: https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/3320756
Another tournament highlight came from Mike Davidson on the drivable par-4 eighth hole, where he made an Albatross with a hole in one. Check out the video below.
Up next for the AGA:
- Travel: Mayan Palace Spring Member Weekend, March 26 – 27, 2022 | Recap: 2021 Mayan Palace Member Weekend
- Social Golf: AZ Under30 – Dobson Ranch Golf Club, April 3, 2022
- Learn Golf: Take A Swing Clinic – Cave Creek – Session 1, April 16, 2022
Kurt Watkins Leads After First Round of the AGA Championship
Watkins’ -7 (65) leads 144-player field by a shot Aguila Golf Course
by Alex Gelman
USGA PJ Boatwright Jr. Communications Intern
The weather and conditions were superb as 144 players this morning and afternoon teed it up at Aguila Golf Course for the start of the AGA Championship – the association’s first major championship of the season. Kurt Watkins fired a 7-under (65) to lead the field through 18 holes. Watkins was 9-under through 16 holes with five birdies and two eagles, until making his first blemish on 17, a double bogey.
Just one shot back of the lead, tied for second, is 2021 AGA Player of the Year Sean O’Donnell, 6-under. O’Donnell birdied three of the last five holes to finish his round. 2018 and 2019 AGA Player of the Year, Adam Walicki, also shot 6-under in the opening round.
Shankar Natarajan, winner of the AZ Short Course at Augusta Ranch last month, is currently alone in fifth place, 3-under (69).
“The energy was really high – the players have been looking forward to the first major championship for a few months now,” said Logan Rasmussen, AGA Director of Rules and Competition. “The golf course is in incredible shape and there are a lot of different options for course set up (tees, hole locations) which keeps it fresh and interesting.
“This is the first time the event has been played over four days. Having that variety of hole locations and an ability to challenge the players is what makes this event so great.”
The field will be cut to the top 60 players and ties after Friday’s second round. Those left will battle it out over the weekend for the coveted Kachina trophy.
What to Know about the First Major of the Year: the AGA Championship
The best amateurs in the state converge at Aguila Golf Course today as they tee it up for the first Major AGA Championship of 2022. Here is what you need to know about the event, field and venue. (Scroll to the bottom for fast facts).
One of Phoenix’s most popular municipal courses, Aguila Golf Course, plays host to the 33rd AGA Championship, formerly known as the AZ Publinks before changing names in 2018. The 72-hole event will be played in an individual stroke play format and conducted over four days, a new approach for every AGA major championship this year.
With tee times slated to go off at 7:00 am Thursday morning, players will get to take advantage of the cool morning temps, courtesy of the dwindling Arizona winter. There will be no shortage of competition as a 144-person field featuring old and new faces ready themselves to contend for the title. Players will be hoping to advance to Saturday’s third round as a cut to the low 60 players (plus ties) will take place after 36 holes.
Familiar faces in the field include three recent AGA award winners: Sean O’Donnell (2021 POTY recipient), Bryan Hoops (2021 Mayfair & Masters POTY recipient) and Brad Wayment (2021 Senior POTY recipient). O’Donnell, who’s coming off a win at last month’s San Tan Amateur, is returning to the same event and venue where he earned his first AGA Major victory in 2020. After shooting 70-70-66 for an overall 7-under 206. Surely, he is looking for the same winning outcome this week.
Other notable players in title contention are recent JGAA standouts Mahanth Chirravuri and Joseph Lloyd, as well as AGA Short Course Champion Shankar Natarajan, who is looking for his first AGA Major victory. Chirravuri, a recent JGAA grad, is currently committed to play Division 1 college golf at the University of Southern California while Lloyd is riding out the last semester of his freshman year with the University of Utah men’s golf team.
The venue, Aguila Golf Course, situated eight miles southwest of downtown Phoenix at the base of South Mountain, will provide scenic views and a challenging championship level course for the 72-hole stroke play event.
|Championship Course||Aguila Golf Course, Phoenix, AZ|
|Championship Yardage||7032 | Par 72|
|Format||72 holes of individual stroke play|
|Cut||Low 60 players (+ ties) after 36 holes|
|Tournament Record Score||2019 George Markham (65, 69, 65) | Overall 14-under 199|
|Defending Champion||Cameron Barzekoff | (69,70,69) | Overall: 2-under 208|
|Past Champions in the field||Past Champions in the field: Sean O’Donnell (2020), Sam Engel (2016), Jimmy Kozikowski (2013)|
|Pairings & Results:||https://www.golfgenius.com/pages/3320754|
Preview: San Tan Amateur at Oakwood Country Club
February 26-27, 84 players will tee off in the 2022 San Tan Amateur at Oakwood Country Club in Sun Lakes, Arizona. Oakwood consist of three 9-hole courses (Lakes, Palms, Sonoran). Starting at 9:00a.m. for each round, this 18-hole amateur competition will be played on the Lakes 9 and Palms 9 course. The course is playing as a par 72 with different tees for Open/Masters, Senior, and Legends. This is the first time the event will be divisional, marking four eventual champions Sunday afternoon.
Open Division (no age restriction) = 45 players
Masters Division (40+ years old) = 18 players
Senior Division (55+ years old) = 15 players
Legends Division (65+ years old) = 6 players
Past Champions at the San Tan Amateur:
John Bearrie – 2021
Adam Walicki – 2020
Noah Hofman – 2019
RELATED: Men’s Tournament Schedule
About the San Tan Amateur: The San Tan Amateur is part of the all encompassing “AGA Tour” of events. The “AGA Tour” is made up of all competitive events/tournaments held by the Arizona Golf Association. Events such as the AZ Short Course, Northern Amateur, Southern Amateur, and more. The AGA Tour also includes AGA Championship events such as the AGA Championship, Stroke Play Championship, and Arizona Amateur Championship among others. Playing in these events will accumulate points which will determine the Player of the Season and Mayfair Award winner at the conclusion of the competitive season.
Natarajan Goes Wire-to-Wire for 2022 AGA Short Course Victory
BY: ALEX GELMAN, USGA P.J. BOATWRIGHT INTERN
Shankar Natarajan won the 2022 AGA Short Course Tournament hosted by Augusta Ranch Golf Club in Mesa, finishing the two-day event at -8 overall.
“The best part of my game was my short game,” said Natarajan. “I had some crucial up and downs early that kept my lead and on a lot of shots, I kept it away from trouble and set myself up.”
Mike Louden finished in second place, -6, two shots back of Natarajan, followed by Sam Engle, -5, who finished third.
Natarajan followed up his first round -6 (55) with a -2 (59) Sunday to top a standout leaderboard. He carded 11 birdies over the weekend and just three bogeys.
This is the first time Augusta Ranch Golf Club has hosted to the AGA Short Course Tournament. Playing as a par 61, players noted the 3,846-yard course was in great condition over the two days of golf. Made up of seven par 4’s and twelve par 3’s, the field needed a solid strategy to navigate Augusta Ranch.
“I think the course played really well,” said Natarajan. “It was in great shape and there were some really tough pins.”
Natarajan is looking to follow the same path of friend Sean O’Donnell, who won the 2021 Short Course tournament en route to 2021 AGA Player of the Year honors. The AZ Short Course was O’Donnell’s first victory of the year, similarly to Natarajan.
“I would like to (win AGA Player of the Year) – I play with him (Sean O’Donnell) a lot,” said Natarajan. “We won the Phoenix City Team Championship last month. I felt like if I could get off to a good start, then we’ll see what happens later in the year. Try to get some major wins.”
Natarajan’s next AGA event will be the 2022 San Tan Amateur, scheduled for February 26-27 at Oakwood Country Club in Sun Lakes.
Link to full results: www.golfgenius.com/pages/3320651