Down to the wire
What appeared to be easy paths to victory proved anything but for Jo Hua Hung and Bryan Teoh Wiyang in American Junior Golf Association play Thursday.
But each persevered in the third and final round of the seventh annual tournament at Centennial Golf Club.
Hung, from New Taipei City, Taiwan, needed only to two-putt from 15 feet on the 18th hole to claim the girls title. She three-putted, however, resulting in the first playoff in tournament history, before dispatching Elizabeth Lu on the second extra hole.
Wiyang, who has had a stellar year with two wins and three seconds in five AJGA events, saw a four-shot lead through 11 holes dwindle to one with two holes to play, but held on for the boys crown.
Wiyang, from Jupiter, Florida, registered a 2-under 70 for a 10-under total of 206. First-round leader Michael Zhang, of San Diego, birdied No. 16 to pull within one shot, but pars over the last two holes kept him there.
“It kind of tightened up when I started to make pars and Mike, my competitor, started to make a couple birdies,” said Wiyang, who will be a high-school junior. “I mean, we were both playing pretty good. I was playing pretty OK, but kind of sunk a little under pressure. All I could do was try to hold it and make par as much as I could.”
Raymond Navis, of Nipomo, California, and Aaron Chen, of Fremont, California, tied for third at 209 with final rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.
Medford’s Reese Fisher shot a second straight 72 and tied for 25th at 219.
On the girls side, Central Point’s Kiana Oshiro recorded a 73 and was 14th at 220.
At the top of the leaderboard, it was anyone’s tourney between second-round leaders Hung and Ziyi Wang, of Beijing, the winner here in 2013; and Lu, of Los Gatos, California.
The three were tied at 5 under overall through 15, but a third straight birdie by Hung on No. 16 pushed her in front by a stroke. She remained there until the 18th, when her approach settled pin high to the left.
Lu chipped from just off the green on the other side of the hole and left herself with an uphill 3-footer for par.
It didn’t figure to matter, until Hung’s downhill first putt stopped 2 feet short. After Lu converted, Hung lipped out the testy par putt that would have won it.
“Yeah, I think it’s a little downhill,” said Hung, who had a 73 in the final round and a 211 total. “I think it’s fast. Speed control not good.”
Standing over the short par putt, she admitted, “I feel very nervous.”
The nerves didn’t go away in the playoff, the first she’s been a part of.
Playing the No. 1 hole, she and Lu made par 4s the first go-round.
The second time through on the same hole, Lu’s approach was long to the back fringe, while Hung was on, 25 feet short of the hole.
Lu chipped long, then ran her par putt past the cup. Hung two-putted for par, finishing comfortably after Lu missed her bogey putt.
Lu had a closing 72 for her 211, and third-place Wang shot 74 for a 212.
“I feel very excited,” said Hung, who was 3 over on the front with a bogey and double bogey. “I think today, front nine is not good. After that, I just tell myself not to think too much. Focus on every shot, step by step.”
That’s precisely what Wiyang, who opened with 68s in the first two rounds, was trying to do.
He played the front nine in 2 under, got it to 3 on No. 11, then was 1 over on the final seven holes as Zhang gave chase.
“I started to think, we’re both really close to each other,” said Wiyang, “and it looked like a match-play format after 13. I knew things were getting tense. I tried to pay as much attention to myself as I could. He was like, 20 percent or 30 percent of my attention. I tried to minimize it as much as a I could.”
Wiyang’s best putt was to save par at 15. His 50-foot birdie putt rolled 8 feet long.
“I knew that I had to make it,” he said. “Otherwise, the race would tighten up even more.”
Needing a birdie on the last, Zhang lipped out an 8-footer. Wiyang executed his two-putt par from 12 feet.
“It was a great feeling that my hard work paid off,” he said. “I controlled what I could control, and the outcome I could not control. I just hoped for the best.”
BOYS TOP 10
1. Bryan Teoh Wiyang, Jupiter, Fla., 68-68-70—206
2. Michael Zhang, San Diego, 66-73-68—207
3. Raymond Navis, Nipomo, Calif., 70-71-68—209
3. Aaron Chen, Fremont, Calif., 70-72-67—209
5. RJ Manke, Lakewood, Wash., 71-70-69—210
6. Andy Zhou, Palo Alto, Calif., 70-69-72—211
6. Triston Gardner, Ivins, Utah, 71-68-72—211
8. Matt Heitel, Redwood City, Calif., 69-74-69—212
8. Samuel Su, Surrey, British Columbia, 72-68-72—212
8. Lucas Carper, San Jose, Calif., 73-71-68—212
T25 Reese Fisher, Medford, 75-72-72 —219
GIRLS TOP 10
*1. Jo Hua Hung, New Taipei City, Taiwan, 71-67-73—211
2. Elizabeth Lu, Los Gatos, Calif., 70-69-72—211
3. Ziyi Wang, Beijing, China, 71-67-74—212
4. Veronica Joels, Las Vegas, Nev., 74-71-69—214
5. Isabella Cantwell, Scottsdale, Ariz., 74-68-73—215
6. Siripatsorn Patchana, Bangkok, Thailand, 73-71-72—216
6. Kimberlee Tottori, Las Vegas, Nev., 74-70-72—216
8. Jayla Yoonji Kang, Surrey, British Columbia, 72-73-73—218
8. Euna Han, Coquitlam, British Columbia, 73-71-74—218
8. Therese Warner, Kennewick, Wash., 70-74-74—218
8. Jiayu Kong, Arcadia, Calif., 69-74-75—218
8. Jing Wen Lu, Shanghai, China, 78-72-68—218
14. Kiana Oshiro, Central Point, 75-72-73—220
* won on second playoff hole
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com