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Age makes no difference for Kinney

Medford junior golfer Tai Kinney jumped up an age division to get somecompetition on her home course this week in the Southern Oregon Junior GolfChampionships at Rogue Valley Country Club.

Better luck next time.

Kinney, 14, moved up to the top girls division ­ for players ages15-17 ­ and humbled the older girls with a dominant 17-stroke victoryin the 36-hole tournament, which ended Tuesday.

I wanted to get pushed a little bit, and I felt I could get awaywith it on my home course, said Kinney, who shot a round of 76, threestrokes over the women's par at Rogue Valley in the final round as she breezedto her fourth junior win of the summer.

Kinney completed 36 holes at 9-over-par 155. She shot an opening-round79 on Monday.

Nicole Keller of North Plains' Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club finished a distantsecond at 173 and Josie Nealy of Grants Pass was 20 strokes back at 175.

It's nice to play well and beat the older girls, said Kinney.I don't necessarily tee it up every time expecting to win. I justtry to play my best and winning is important from there.

I've been playing pretty well lately. The main thing is that I'veimproved my drives. I've been hitting the ball longer, but I've been allover the place. I hit it pretty straight here.

Nealy, the No. — player on Grants Pass High's girls golf team last spring,will get another shot at Kinney today in the Grants Pass junior tournamentat Grants Pass Golf Club.

She will be on her home course, and I'm sure she will want to provesomething to me, said Kinney. I might be in trouble. But I'lljust go out and do the best I can, and we'll see.

Kinney made a two-putt birdie on the par-5 12th green and made an 8-footbirdie at No. 14.

My putting was pretty good today, she said. Most ofmy approach shots were long and I needed to putt well.

Until this summer, Kinney has concentrated on playing against playersher own age in tournament play. The major exception was her startling winas a 13-year-old last summer in the women's division of Medford Stroke PlayChampionship, which is the Medford city tournament at Cedar Links Golf Course.

Kinney, who will be a freshman at North Medford High in the fall, willbe back to defend her city women's championship.

I hope to win it again, said Kinney. I like playingagainst older competition. It makes me play better.

Ashland's Kyle Allred won the boys age 14-15 title with a 36-hole totalof 8-over 152. He shot rounds of 77 and 75.

Allred, whose older brother, Jason, is currently playing in the UnitedStates Golf Association Junior Championship in Philadelphia, had to makea 7-foot par putt on No. 18 to win the tournament.

I hit it in the right-front bunker in two and I was wondering ifI was going to give this thing (lead) away, he said. I triedto stay positive and I managed to get it up and down for par. I wasn't positive,but I was pretty sure I was putting for the win.

Allred edged Adam Martin of Lincoln City's Lakeside Golf Club by onestroke.

Tyler Miller of Roseburg won the boys 12-13 title with a 165 total. Hestruggled to the finish on Tuesday, shooting a round of 88 after a 77 onMonday.

I hacked it around some today, he said. I could haveplayed a better round, but I'm not complaining because I won.