Six Qualify for U.S. Women’s Open
Words by: Brianna Gianiorio
Sarah Schmelzel qualified for her third consecutive U.S. Women’s Open, earning medalist honors at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club’s Prospector Course with a 65-67 performance over 36-holes. Her 12-under-par score Included 11 birdies, an eagle and a lone bogey.
Mina Harigae, Stephanie Meadows, Amanda Linner, Pornanong Phatlum and Giulia Molinaro will join Schmelzel at the 76th U.S. Women’s Open Championship, set for June 3-6 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.
“After being in Asia the past couple weeks this was like a very mild day, just being back at home it’s very comfortable for me,” the medalist said. “I’ve been playing really well on the road, so it was nice to kind of see things click and come together. I knew I had to make a ton of birdies, so I went in with that mindset and fortunately, it all worked out.”
Schmelzel earned her LPGA TOUR card in 2019 and has since managed 32 cuts in 40 starts.
“It’s such an honor to be able to do that, and I feel so lucky so I think that’s been the key to enjoying all of it and the U.S. Women’s Open is such a big deal for me,” said Schmelzel. “It is the number 1 tournament I want to win so I’m really excited to go back for the third year. It’s such an unreal championship and the feeling and everything and all the history behind it is really incredible.”
Harigae and Meadows used 10-under-par scores to punch their respective championship tickets. Harigae, a 10-year LPGA veteran will be playing in her 11th U.S. Women’s Open next month. Meadows, a five-year LPGA TOUR veteran and 2016 Olympian for her native Ireland, made her professional debut at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2. She created a memorable experience with a third-place finish.
Linner, Phatlum and Molinaro grabbed the final three qualifying spots at 8-under-par after 36 holes. The Arizona State Sun Devil Sophmore Linner was crowned low amateur on top of qualifying for her first U.S. Women’s Open. Phatlum, a 16-time international champion and 2016 Thai Olympian will be playing her 11th U.S. Women’s Open. The Italian Olympian Molinaro is part of the major championship field for the second time, after qualifying in 2018.
The U.S. Women’s Open Championship, the oldest of the LPGA’s five majors, is one of 14 championships conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA). The Olympic Club’s Lake Course will host the championship for the first time in USGA Women’s history. With nearly 1,600 entries accepted by the USGA, 156 players will tee off in San Francisco next month.
For full results: Click Here
Scottsdale Prep Academy Earns First Team Title at D-III State Championship
Words by: Andy Morales, AZPreps365
Scottsdale Prep shot a 7-under-par 273 on Tuesday to pull away from Valley Christian at the Division III state championships held at the OMNI Tucson National. The Spartans held a slim 4-stroke lead over the Trojans after the first round on the Sonoran Course on Monday but that lead grew as the day went on and the program finished with a 40-stroke victory (572 to 612) to claim the first golf championship for the program.
It was the biggest margin of victory at the D-III level since 2009 when Snowflake beat Payson 595 to 652. In addition, Scottsdale Prep sophomore Adam Miller finished 3-under on Tuesday to claim the individual state championship with a 1-under 139. His teammate, junior Talia Gutman, finished three strokes back for second place after she shot a 3-under on Tuesday. Arizona College Prep senior Rajveer Sethi also took second place after he finished with the best round of the tournament with a 4-under 66.
Adam Miller is your 2021 @AZPreps365 D3 State Champion. First medalist from Scottsdale Prep and also first team title for the school #AZPreps365 His dad is the coach getting drenched https://t.co/xYLO6c7uL9 pic.twitter.com/R6Gq2jRk7l— Andy Morales (@AZPreps365Andy) May 12, 2021
Gutman’s runner-up finish was the highest for a female athlete playing in D-III since former Estrella Foothills standout Sarah Freeman won a state title in 2007. Former Yuma Catholic standout Alexandria Schmunk took third place in 2018 and 2019.
Valley Christian won six of the last seven D-III championships, including 2018 and 2019, with former standout James Mackie winning it all as a freshman and as a senior in 2019. Now competing for California Baptist, Mackie took second place at the WAC championships earlier this month.
Mackie was the first freshman to win a championship in 2016 and Rancho Solano Prep freshman Brantlee Howard finished nine strokes back to take ninth place this year. As a team, Scottsdale Prep had four finishers in the top six and only Davis Johnson is a senior. Johnson took second to Mackie in 2019.
AZ College Prep took 12th place last year and Rajveer Sethi took 22nd.
Story via: Andy Morales, AZPreps365
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.
Click Here for the full leaderboard.
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
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.
For full results: Click Here
Summerhays Sweep at the Thunderbird Invitational
PHOENIX – The Summerhays family celebrated two wins at the 2021 Thunderbird Invitational, held March 13-14 at Papago Golf Club. Preston, 18, defended his title after a four-hole playoff, and Grace, 16, cruised to victory by five strokes.
A Sun Devil commit, Preston set the pace in the Boys Championship division with a first-round 7-under 65. He started the day on No. 10 and went four under par over three holes – 18, 1 and 2 – before picking up two more birdies. Anawin Pikulthong and Alex Lynch sat four strokes back tied for second place at 69. In the second round, Hunter Thomson of Calgary, Alberta led the pack at 8-under 64. He reeled off four-straight birdies on holes 10-13 to erase his five-stroke deficit (first round 70) with five holes remaining. Summerhays, who shot a final-round 69, answered with a birdie on No. 17 to regain the lead until Thomson leveled the championship with a birdie on the final hole to force a playoff at 10-under-par 134.
Summerhays and Thomson played the 445-yard, par-4 18th three times, pushing birdie, birdie, par, before Summerhays prevailed with a par on the 225-yard, par-3 17th hole. Pikulthong finished strong with a final-round 66 to earn solo-third place at 9-under par, and Alan Quezada shot 6-under par (70-68—138) for fourth place.
In the Girls Championship division, Gracie McGovern shot an opening-round 2-under 70 to lead by one stroke over Grace Summerhays. In the second round, it was Summerhays’ turn to shoot 70, making five birdies in a seven-hole stretch (1-7), to cement the championship by five strokes at 3-under-par 141. The win marks Summerhays’ second PING Jr Masters Series victory of the season, after a first-place finish at the Fisher-Bryan Invitational in February and second place finish at the Warren Schutte Invitational in January. Jennifer Seo (74-72) and Logan Allen (72-74) finished tied for second place at 2-over par 146.
See full final results here.
The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. The Thunderbirds consist of 55 “active” members and more than 250 “life” members. In 2018 The Thunderbirds raised a record $14 million for charity from proceeds from last year’s tournament and have eclipsed $161 million in charitable giving since its inception in 1932. For more information on The Thunderbirds or the Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit www.wmphoenixopen.com.
The PING Junior Masters Series tournaments are made up of five 36-hole, invitation-only, competitions where top-ranked Arizona junior golfers play locally against their peers. Due to the strength of the field, players earn more national-level points. This helps Arizona’s best enter national junior golf tournaments as well as better prepares them for college golf and securing college golf scholarships.
“Our goal is to provide a competitive place for aspiring players to play,” said Alex Clark, Chairman of the Board of the JGAA. “This tournament series will allow kids to earn national-level points and will serve as a launching pad into nationally chartered events.”
About the JGAA
The Junior Golf Association of Arizona is a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to educate, motivate and inspire Arizona’s youth through golf and all of the valuable lessons and life skills inherent to the game. In addition to hosting competitive events, the JGAA develops programs for local schools, assists golf courses with their junior programs, conducts college prep seminars and etiquette clinics. The Junior Ambassador and Guest Speaker Programs give JGAA students the opportunity to learn, develop and adopt successful habits and practices – both on and off the golf course – from a collection of prominent, civic-minded community and business leaders. The JGAA also awards two scholarship funds annually to high school senior members of the JGAA for their college education – the Tres Arnold and the John Wolfinger Memorial College Scholarships. The JGAA’s strong belief in teamwork and cooperation has guided the organization for more than 30 years and is instilled in all of its members. For more information JGAA, visit www.jgaa.org or call 602-944-6168.