|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • AMATEUR GOLF

    Wu among favorites as AJGA returns

    Junior tourney at Centennial features some of top junior players in country
  • It's been almost two years since Dylan Wu captured an American Junior Golf Association title.
    • email print
    • AJGA JUNIOR TOURNEY
      when: Tuesday through Thursday, all day.
      • WHERE: Centennial Golf Club.
      • FORMAT: Two tournaments with boys and girls fields, the AJGA Junior and the Junior All-Star. Each has 72 pla...
      » Read more
      X
      AJGA JUNIOR TOURNEY
      when: Tuesday through Thursday, all day.

      • WHERE: Centennial Golf Club.
      • FORMAT: Two tournaments with boys and girls fields, the AJGA Junior and the Junior All-Star. Each has 72 players. There is no cut in the stroke-play event.
      • FREE JUNIOR CLINIC: Monday, 2:30 p.m., at the practice range. AJGA players and staff members and Centennial staff will provide instruction. It's open to the public and there is no cost to participate.
  • It's been almost two years since Dylan Wu captured an American Junior Golf Association title.
    He'll get another chance to get on the winning track — and make it two straight victories by local players — when the national circuit for top young players makes its fourth straight visit to Medford.
    The AJGA Junior at Centennial Golf Club will have a new look when play begins Tuesday with two tournaments in one and no cut line after 36 holes. The three-day event ends Thursday.
    Wu, of Medford, and Ashland's Ramon Hedges will be the lone local players, boys or girls, in the open division.
    In years past, the open division, for ages 12-18, was the only offering, and the field was cut after the first two of three days of the 54-hole stroke-play tournament.
    This year, a Junior All-Star tournament for kids ages 12-15 seeking to gain AJGA experience will be held in conjunction with the open event. There are five local boys and girls entered, and as with the open tourney, they'll play 54 holes with no cut.
    There will be 72 players in each tourney.
    Wu, a senior-to-be at St. Mary's who has committed to play college golf at Northwestern, recorded his lone AJGA victory a little over two years ago at the Emerson Junior Golf Classic in Poway, Calif.
    He since has had much success in a variety of tournaments but is still looking for his second AJGA win.
    Three weeks ago, he shot an opening round 66 in the Bob Jones Junior Championship in Yorba Linda, Calif., and placed third.
    "I feel pretty confident going into the tournament," said Wu. "I've always had success at Centennial. I feel like my game has gotten more suited to the course."
    With increased length off the tee and a solid short game, Wu is primed for a strong showing.
    "When I get out there, I actually putt better and read greens better," he said. "The greens are always smooth. I feel confident over a putt that if I hit it well, it will go in. And you don't really get in too much trouble on that course. You usually need a good short game and wedge game to score well, and I've always felt that's the strength of my game."
    Wu is making his third appearance in the Centennial event. Three years ago, at age 13, he placed 30th at 7 over par. A year later, he was 4 over and tied for 22nd place.
    Wu, who has seven career top-10 finishes in AJGA events, didn't play it last year.
    "I've been playing pretty well lately," he said. "I have pretty high expectations going into it. I want to play well and get in the final group on the last day."
    In last year's tournament, Rogue River's Kevin Murphy captured the boys title by seven shots. His 203 total was 13 under.
    The girls winner was Bethany Wu, of Diamond Bar, Calif., who cruised in at 12 under.
    While the tournaments are three days, there's plenty going on beforehand.
    A qualifier tourney will be held today, and roughly 10 youngsters will play themselves into the open fields.
    On Monday, a junior-amateur tournament with 20 teams will be on the course in the morning.
    The afternoon is reserved for a practice round for those kids not in the junior-am.
    Also Monday, at 2:30 p.m., a free kids clinic open to the public will be held on the Centennial practice range. AJGA staff, Centennial staff and top junior players will assist with instruction.
    Player registration will be Monday night, and while they're signing up and enjoying a barbecue, the parents will be treated to a reception featuring locally provided food, wine tasting and music.
    Tournament play for the 144 players begins Tuesday. There will be morning and afternoon waves of tee times, from 7 to 8:50 a.m. and from noon to 1:50 p.m. The open field goes early in the first and third rounds.
    Spectators are welcome and there is no admission charge.
    First-day play will be followed by a tournament cookout, during which an event unique to Medford will be held. The "Putt a Pear" competition allows players to try to putt a pear downhill into an oversized cup.
    It highlights the pear industry specific to the region, and special guest putters will be Mike Naumes, whose pear-growing company, Naumes, Inc., donated the fruit; Mayor Gary Wheeler and Murphy, who last year won the inaugural contest.
    Murphy, 19 and headed to Oregon State on a golf scholarship, is not entered in the tournament.
    "It'll be a fun event," said Vince Domenzain, general manager and director of golf at Centennial. "It's a good honor for him to be recognized as the past champion and hang out with the group from this year."
    The variety of events — notably increased participation in the junior-am and the reception for parents on registration night — helped the Centennial Junior earn an award as the most improved AJGA event for 2012.
    "It's a great honor," said Domenzain. "It's a tribute to what the committee we created has done. Travel Medford has been a big part of it."
    Tournament director Sarah Butler, whose AJGA staff arrived in Medford Wednesday to help coordinate course set-up, social activities, transportation, etc., said the fact that Centennial and the AJGA have worked together for several years makes for smooth sailing.
    "Everyone feels comfortable, everyone knows what to expect," she said. "At this point in the summer, we've (AJGA) run close to 80 events, so we're learning from other events we've already had."
    Local players in the Junior All-Star tourney are Medford's Joshua and Jeremy Wu — Dylan's brothers — and Reese Fisher on the boys side. In the girls field are Medford's Kiana Oshiro and Central Point's Daniele Giles.
    The three Wu brothers helped St. Mary's win its third straight Class 3A/2A/1A state championship this past spring.
    Oshiro had a strong showing in the Oregon Golf Association junior at Centennial in June, shooting 3 over for two days to finish five shots clear of the field.
    Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com
Reader Reaction
      • calendar