Barzekoff Picks Up AGA Championship Victory
By Brianna Gianiorio
LAVEEN, ARIZ- Cameron Barzekoff shot a final-round 69 Sunday at Aguila Golf Course to overtake second-round leader Jacob Letman and win the 2021 AGA Championship by two strokes. Barzekoff combined his opening-round 69 and second-round 70 to finish 2-under 208 for the tournament, the only player under par for the weekend.
“This win means a lot – this is my first tournament since early November,” the first-time AGA Major winner said. “I took a long, long time off – just been working on my game. I have not won a tournament since maybe this past summer.”
Evan Chien turned in the low round of the day, an impressive 3-under 67 to finish tied for second with reigning AGA Player of the Year Bryan Hoops at even-par.
Prevailing through rain, wind and cold weather during the first two rounds of the championship, Letman was the only player to record both rounds under par. Entering the final round 3-under, Letman started the day with a narrow one-shot lead ahead of Adam Walicki and a two-shot lead ahead of Barzekoff.
Barzekoff, a 20-year-old Las Vegas resident, found himself one behind the lead after he birdied the first hole. When Letman and Walicki turned in bogeys on the par-4 5th hole, Barzekoff jumped into his first lead of the tournament. After a birdie on hole 8, Barzekoff made the turn with a 1-under 34, two shots ahead of Hoops and Zach Smith.
It was an up-and-down back nine for Barzekoff, who still managed to hold the lead through the final stretch. He recorded two bogeys and a birdie on his first five holes to drop his lead to one. It was a clutch eagle on hole 15 that made for his two-shot win..
“Today it was a little bit more wayward off the tee, I made some clutch holes coming in, like the eagle and 15,” Barzekoff said. “I think I went driver driver off the deck and then made a 30-foot for eagle. That was what kept me kind of in the tournament.”
He finished out his final three holes bogey, birdie, bogey to claim the win.With tough hole locations and weather, he was the only player to turn in three rounds of par or better.
“I didn’t have much confidence coming into the greens this week after the first two rounds,”he said. “Trusting your line is probably the biggest thing – a couple of my longer putts I trusted and I happened to make a few when they counted.”
This marks Barzekoff’s first tournament and win of his 2021 amateur season. The champion gave up D1 college golf at Boise State University to return back home to Las Vegas after his father was diagnosed with cancer but hopes to return to college golf soon.
“I played two years there (at BSU). I decided to come home for my father’s health in Vegas- he has been battling cancer for the last two and a half years, so I wanted to come closer to him and hopefully I’ll be on UNLV’s roster next semester.”
2021 marks the 32nd year of the AGA Championship since its inception in 1989. Formerly known as the AZ Publinks, the Championship is one of seven championships conducted by the Arizona Golf Association. Held over a three-day period, the 54-hole event with a cut after 36 holes, is the first AGA Championship of the year. The next Championship is the Arizona Stroke Play Championship hosted by Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Course set for April 22-25, 2021.
U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Qualifier
The USGA Women’s Mid-Amateur Qualifier has concluded and left us with four qualifiers to send to the championship at Forest Highlands Golf Club, in Flagstaff, AZ on September 14-19, 2019. Kim Eaton, who is no stranger to USGA championships, earned the qualifying medalist title with a score of 73. Mari Meizwa and Thuhashina Selvaratnam tied for second place and will be competing in the championship alongside fourth-place qualifier Katerina Prorokova.
It was a heart-racing start for medalist, Kim Eaton, as she made 3 birdies in her first five holes. Eaton found herself three-over-par after 12 holes, but fortunately took the wheel again finding two more birdies in her remaining six holes. After the sweltering-hot round, Eaton explained, “It seems like I like this golf course. I play it well, even though I haven’t played a course this long in some time now.”
This will be the seventh U.S. Mid-Amateur that Eaton has competed in after taking a seven-year break from the qualifying due to medical reasons. “This is the first Mid-Am I have attempted to play in since 2012; that was my last one.” Eaton explained, “I couldn’t walk. I just got the medical exemption two years ago.”
Mari Meizwa and Thuhashina Selvaratnam bagged the second and third qualifying spot after carding an 6-over 78. With a 7-over 79, Katerina Prorokova snagged the final qualifying spot.
To compete in the U.S. Women’s Mid-Am means a great deal, specifically because Arizona is the host state of the championship. The tournament location is just a hop, skip, and jump north in beautiful Flagstaff Arizona, at Forest Highlands Golf Club. The championship site last hosted a USGA event in 2014 for the U.S. Girl’s Junior Amateur. The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur originated in 1987, allowing women who were 25+ years of age and with a handicap of 9.4 or better to play.
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Markham Breaks Record to Win 2019 AGA Championship
After a birdie fest weekend, George Markham sets a new tournament record en route to claim his first AGA Major Championship title. The Colorado School of Mines standout shot a final tally of fourteen-under, six shots clear of Gabriel Salvanera.
Markham entered the final round with a four-shot advantage, finding four birdies on the front nine to card a 31. Salvanera, the 2017 D1 State Champion and a top ranked state golfer from Queen Creek, went low and posted an impressive front-nine 31 to stay in contention. Markham knew this win was not going to come easy on the final nine.
“I knew I started the day with the lead and Gabe made a bunch of birdies on the front nine. I knew he wasn’t going to make it too easy, so I had to keep on pushing forward,” Markham said.
Mixing eight birdies with two bogeys for the round, the 2018-19 RMAC Preseason Golfer of the Year posted his second 65 of the weekend. As the only player to shoot three rounds in the 60s, Markham closed out with a tournament record total 65-69-65-199. Markham has been prestigious among the field in many AGA Majors. This was not the first time Markham flirted with a win. After a tough battle at the 2018 Arizona Amateur, he finished runner-up to GCU junior, Jake Chanen. This marks George’s first AGA victory.
“This is nice. I finished second at the Arizona Amateur this summer and had to come back and win the “big” trophy.”
And he did so in record-breaking style…
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Walicki Claims San Tan Amateur
Adam Walicki captured yet another title at the San Tan Amateur this past weekend at Alta Mesa Golf Club carding an impressive final round of 7-under 65 to overtake GCU freshman, Nick Hedman.
The 2018 Player of the Year entered the day three strokes behind the lead after finishing even par in the first round. sinking three birdies on his first four holes was enough to notch the lead along side round one leader, Nick Hedman. Walicki ended the day with a total of seven birdies and a final score of 72-65-137.
Hedman finished runner-up despite leading the pack after round one and sinking an eagle on the par-5 10th hole in round two. He finished the day with three birdies and two bogies, carding a total score of 69-69-138.
Jimin Yoo finished third at 3-under after rounds of 73-68, while Ted Neville and Mike Wagner tied for fourth at 2-under 142.
This is the first title of the year for Walicki, his most recent being the Arizona Players Cup Championship back in November.
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2019 San Tan Amateur
Registration for the 2019 San Tan Amateur, on February 23th-24th, is now open