The conditions are not always ideal, both on the course and in life. Golf is often compared to life because sometimes you hit a great shot and don’t result you wanted. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control and you must continue grinding it out in poor conditions. That is what family is for — they serve as someone to lean on in dire times. Every player in the field this week is a champion, and they are accompanied by a world-class family and support system. You all are why we do what we do and we cannot thank you enough for your dedication to the game.
The second round of the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship saw great shots, weather delays and career rounds. Eleven of the thirteen age groups were able to finish on Friday, while the two twelve-year-old age groups finished Saturday morning. The size of the field, number of locations and unpredictability of the weather made for an adventurous round two; but it couldn’t stop these young golfers from having fun and carding low scores.
Ten of the age groups have an outright leader, while Girls 8, Girls 9 and Boys 12 possess a two-way tie for first.
Six-year-old Yuuma Nemoto continued his impressive play on Friday as he followed up his opening round of 32 with a 30 at Midland Country Club. Nemoto birdied six of his nine holes and now has a six-shot lead over Ajalawich Anantasethakul.
Jessy Huebner built upon his one-shot lead after round one by carding a 32 in round two. The six-time Regional Championship winner carded an eye-popping 57 at the Jekyll Island Cup in March, and will look to retain his five-stroke lead in the age group after finishing in fifth at the 2015 World Championship.
Tristan Wieland has a one-shot lead over Tyler Watts and 2015 World Champion Philip Dunham heading into the final round. Wieland recorded a consistent even par on Friday, while Dunham and Watts did their best to close the gap with scores under par. Their final round pairing at 2:24 is one to follow closely on Saturday. This is nothing new for Wieland and Dunham as the two were paired together in the final round last year with Dunham edging Wieland by two strokes.
While Ratchanon Chantananawut has a three-shot lead in the Boys 9 age group, he is being chased by three young players who currently sit at five-under-par. Chantananawut, who prefers to go by “T.K.” won both the 2014 and 2015 World Championship. Shawn Coultoff, Samuel Duran and Patmon Malcom will all look to prevent the three-peat.
While we can’t give the champion’s trophy to Sihan Sandhu quite yet, the Boys 10 age group has all but been decided after he one-upped his 63 in round one with a 62 on Friday. Sandhu finished in 3rd, 2nd and 3rd in his past three World Championship appearances, and is clearly a young man on a mission this week. He currently possesses a twelve-shot lead heading into the final round.
Shubham Jaglan is another player who has distanced himself from the rest of the field in his respective age group. Jaglan, who won the 2015 European Championship, carded an impressive 63 of his own in round two and now owns an eight-stroke lead over before teeing it up on Saturday.
Ben Brogdon of Little Rock, AR closed the gap in the Boys 12 age group on day two. Brogdon shot 67 in his second round which included three birdies on Saturday morning during the restart. He is now tied with Jeevan Sihota heading into Saturday afternoon.
It’s anyone’s match in the Girls 7 & Under age group. Asterisk Talley leads at -2 after posting back-to-back 35’s, but there are many players within striking distance. Alexis Lamadrid is currently one-shot off the lead while five others are three shots or better.
2o15 World Champion, Gianna Clemente is now tied with Isabella Dovhey at six-under-par. Dovhey was able to make up her one shot deficit in round one by posting a bogey-free 32 in round two.
Another 2015 World Champion is now tied in her age group — Chloe Kovelesky posted a 36 in round two while Megan Meng fired a 35 to tie her in Girls 9 heading into the final round.
Vanessa Borovilos added to her round one lead by carding another under par round on day two. The ten-year-old backed up her solid 71 with an even better 70 on Friday. She teed off on the 18th of Seven Lakes at even par, and was able to keep the putter in the bag after holing out for eagle.
Another 67 was on the card for USKG veteran Alexa Pano in round two. However, she was not the only eleven-year-old girl to post a 67 on Friday. Bailey Shoemaker was able to match Pano’s score with the help of four straight birdies on holes three through six at Southern Pines Golf Club.
We have a new leader in Girls 12 after they were finally able to finish their second round on Saturday morning. Anushka Borkar of India posted the low round for the age group — three-under-par. She is -1 for the tournament and has a three-shot lead heading into round three.
The 2016 U.S. Kids Golf World Championship marks the 11th anniversary in Pinehurst and the 17th anniversary of the tournament.
Yesterday, 1,552 junior golfers began their three-day match against their assigned courses. Ten Pinehurst area golf courses will play host to thirteen age groups again over the next two days. For some, the goal is World Champion; others, a top five, ten or twenty finish. Regardless of your individual goal, we hope that you follow the two rules of the week. Rules #2 — play your best golf. But more importantly, Rule #1 — HAVE FUN!
Road to Pinehurst
The U.S. Kids Golf staff is proud to welcome players and their families from over 40 states and 50 countries. One young boy traveled farther than anyone else in the field — 11,520 miles from Perth, Australia. His name is Hunter Woodley-Page, he is seven-years-old and playing at Mid Pines. We are happy to have him and every other young golfer who has made the pilgrimage to the Cradle of American Golf — Pinehurst.
While the World Championship is a journey for some, for others, it is a mere drive down the street, beneath the whispering pines. Three players in the field have the luxury of returning to their home in Pinehurst after each day on the course. Sebastian Balbin (Boys 7), Jackson Bode (Boys 12) and Jackson Van Paris (Boys 12).
The low round for boys playing nine holes came from six-year-old Yuuma Nemoto. The Japanese native played in his first World Championship last year at the age of five, and never recorded a round lower than 40, finishing in 23rd. This year, he has a one shot lead after carding a 32 at Midland Country Club.
Sihan Sandhu posted the lowest score of the tournament in round one with a nine-under-par, 63. Sandhu is a thirteen-time Regional Championship winner and two-time European Championship winner. His 63 consisted of six birdies, two eagles and a bogey. He now has a two shot lead heading into round two.
2015 World Champion Gianna Clemente continued her impressive play this week with a 33 at Longleaf Golf & Family Club. The eight-year-old from Warren, OH shot six-under in Pinehurst last year, has won the last four Regional Championships she has played and has not posted a tournament round over par since September of last year.
Alexa Pano is quickly making a name for herself in the golf world. Pano burst onto the scene back in 2012 when she co-starred in The Short Game — an independent documentary about the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship. Pano is a four-time World Champion and has won all 22 Regional Championships she’s played. She won the 2016 Drive, Chip & Putt, played in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Open and was the youngest player to compete in an LPGA Japan Tour event. The eleven-year-old now owns the largest lead of any age group (five strokes) after posting a 67 in her first round at Southern Pines. The future is bright for this young girl.
Not pictured: Pongsapak Laopakdee – First Round – Mid South
Van Horn Cup Projections
All six of the 2016 Teen World Champions were first-time winners!
Due to inclement weather, Boys 13 was the only age group not to finish the tournament. The boys were forced to count only the front nine of their final round when the greens became unplayable. Mateo Fuenmayor was crowned champion after firing a 34 on the front nine in his final round. Fuenmayor’s last appearance was in 2014 when he finished tied for 59th in the Boys 11 age group of the World Championship. He’s come a long way since then as he finished the tournament at -2.
Jack Heath continued his dominance of Boys 14 on Saturday, carding a 71 en route to a three stroke lead in the age group. Heath recorded five birdies on the day on the challenging Pinehurst No. 9. The USKG veteran won his first event since the 2013 Jekyll Island Cup, and cemented his name in history as a world champion.
AJ Beechler epitomizes the term “USKG Veteran.” Beechler is the only player out of the six Champions to win both the World Championship and the Teen World Championship. He won the 2011 U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at the age of 11 after posting rounds of 69, 68 and 69. AJ also won the European Championship in 2008 after carding rounds of 35, 36 and 33. With rounds of 69 and 70 at Pinehurst No. 4 and 74 at Pinehurst No. 2, Beechler has now conquered the triple crown of U.S. Kids Golf major championship events.
Panama native, Ana Raquel Sanson Leon followed up on her strong round of 70 in round two with a 73 in her final round at Mid Pines. The thirteen-year-old had two birdies on Saturday, leading her to a five shot victory. Prior to 2016, Sanson Leon’s best finish in Pinehurst came back in 2011 at the age of eight when she finished just outside the top five. Now, she’s a world champion.
Chloe Schiavone reclaimed her lead in her final when she shot the low round of the day — 74. The Jacksonville native carded two birdies and finished the tournament with a commanding five stroke lead. Like the rest of this year’s champions, Schiavone was crowned a world champion for the first time and showed a drastic improvement from her previous experiences.
Ling-Jie Chen refused to share her lead throughout the three days of the Championship. Chen stole the show at the Awards Ceremony when she spoke from the heart in her champion’s speech. The sixteen-year-old posted a 76 on Pinehurst No. 6 to win her age group by four strokes.
Team USA won the Teen Van Horn Cup 5.5 — 3.5!