AJGA event returns to Dunes for second year

6/2/2014

By BRETT MARSHALL

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

The 2nd AJGA Kansas Junior Championship will tee off on Tuesday morning at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course with a field of about 120 golfers, approximately 90 boys and 30 girls, competing in the three-day, 54-hole tournament.

A year ago, in the inaugural event, Aaron Guanlao of Haslet, Texas, claimed the boys title with rounds of 70-73-70--213, resulting in a two-shot victory over Michael Hodson of Amarillo, Texas, and Daniel Wetterich of Cincinnati, Ohio. Hodson returns to headline the 2014 field.

Daniela Darquea of Quito, Ecuador, won the girls division by one shot over two girls — Emily Campbell of Carrolton, Texas, and Courtney Dow of Frisco, Texas. Darquea is now a member of the University of Miami (Fla.) golf team and will not be competing. However, Dow will return to challenge for the 2014 title. Dow, who has verbally committed to Texas A&M, had rounds of 74-75-73 en route to her runner-up finish. She is ranked No. 66 in the AJGA Polo Golf Rankings.

Emilee Hoffman of Folsom, Calif., is the top-ranked player in the girls division, sitting in the No. 42 spot. She recorded two victories in 2013, one at the Junior All-Star at Mira Vista and the second at the Junior All-Star Invitational.

Another top player entered in the girls division is Alexis Sadeghy of Edmond, Okla., who has verbally committed to Oklahoma State University. She is ranked No. 78 in the Polo Golf Rankings. Earlier this season, she had a runner-up finish at the Under Armour®/Hunter Mahan Championship. She has three top-10 finishes in her AJGA career.

In addition to Hodson, another top entry for the boys competition will be Tate Tatom of Gallatin Gateway, Mont. While he has competed in only two AJGA events, one of those was a top five finish at the 2013 AJGA Junior at Centennial.

Local entries include Daniel Gaspar, who will be a freshman in the fall at Garden City High School; Taylor Larsen, who just completed his freshman year at GCHS and was the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Larsen was among the top juniors in Kansas during the 2013 summer season. Also entered is the recent Kansas Class 2A state individual champion, Skyler Tebo of Ellis, who earlier this spring signed a letter-of-intent to attend Garden City Community College.

Tee times each of the three days will begin at 7:15 a.m. off the No. 1 tee, with final times estimated to go off at about 1:45 p.m.

"It's exciting to have the event return after a successful first year," Cole Wasinger, head golf professional at Buffalo Dunes, said on Sunday. "It's a tremendous event for Garden City from an economic standpoint. I've talked with the hotel and restaurant folks around town and they've seen a huge increase already, and that was the result last year, too."

Wasinger, who initiated talks with the AJGA to secure the site in 2013, said the organization's staff was impressed with the layout and conditioning at Buffalo Dunes.

"In addition to the hospitality of the people here in Garden City, I think they were amazed that we could have the caliber of layout, along with the condition of the course, here in town," Wasinger said. "I think it's just typical of how Garden City rolls out the welcome mat for people coming here."

Wasinger said there were about 40 to 45 volunteers serving in a variety of roles to help the tournament during its three days of competition.

On Sunday, with the wind gusting 25-35 mph, Oberlin's Kelly Brown was a medalist with a 74 to earn one of the final six spots in the boys division. The girls had a two-way tie at 81 for the medalist honor between Sydney Bormann of Parkston, S.D., and Julia Durkin of Miramar, Fla. Queen Marcela Pierre of Jenks, Okla., with a 90, earned the final girls qualifying spot.

AJGA Tournament Director Rob Doone said his first impressions of Buffalo Dunes have been positive.

"It's definitely not one you'd think of when thinking of Kansas golf courses," Doone said on Sunday. "You're driving in and it's flat, and then you get close to the golf course, and you have the hills. There's lots of undulations, a lot of up and down. It's in really good shape considering the winter they had here. It's definitely a difficult golf course, especially if the wind blows."

Among other players in the field who have made college commitments is Austin Cotton of Austin, Texas, to Baylor University; and Tom Vining of Sioux Falls, S.D., to the University of Minnesota. On the girls side, commitments include Samantha Barker of Highlands Ranch, Colo., to Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University; Maria Fernanda Prado of Cuernavaca, Mexico, to LaSalle University; Maddy Rayner of Southlake, Texas, to the University of Houston; and Kenzie Wright of McKinney, Texas, to Southern Methodist University.

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