LUBBOCK, Texas - When Brandon Pederson of Austin, Texas, drained his winding, 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 Thursday, he was pumped because it meant he had shot his all-time career low round, a 6-under-par 66, but little did he know just how much that putt would end up meaning, as that birdie ended up earning him a one-shot victory in the Randy Smith Classic presented by the Lubbock Sports Authority. Maria Maymon of Huixquilucan, Mexico, had a much less eventful day, coasting to a three-shot victory after a round in which she "did everything right," shooting a 1-under-par 71 and capturing her first AJGA title.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Randy Smith Classic presented by the Lubbock Sports Authority was a 54-hole stroke play event was held at The Rawls Course at TexasTechUniversity. The tournament field consisted of 120 boys and girls, ages 12-18, from 10 states, China, Philippines, and Mexico. The Boys Division played the par-72 course at 7,019 yards, while the Girls Division played it at 6,231 yards.
When Pederson started the day, he appeared completely out of the hunt, trailing the second-round leader by seven shots, but he shot an incredible 6-under-par 30 on the front nine to quickly change that, penciling in six birdies and three pars on his opening nine to help him shoot a 7-under-par 209 for the victory. That lead appeared in doubt at one point, though, as Brad Mason, the second-round leader, of Dallas, trailed Pederson by just one shot with only 210 yards into the par-5 No. 18, needing a birdie to tie or an eagle to win. Mason dumped his second shot into a greenside bunker, leaving him with a down-hill lie and little green to work with, but he made the difficult shot look easy, blasting it to five feet. As Mason lined up his birdie putt, Pederson said he just knew he was going to make it, but luckily for him, Mason couldn't continue his final-hole heroics, missing the five-footer and his chance at a tournament victory in the process.
"I basically made everything. I shot a 30 on the front nine, and I told myself at the start of the day that I had nothing to lose and just to try and make as many birdies as possible," Pederson said. "This win means a lot to me because I've been trying to get this win for almost three years, and now I can focus on winning tournaments instead of trying to qualify and improve my Performance Based Entry status."
Although Mason's disappointing final-round 74 caused him to lose the five-shot lead he entered the day with, he still finished in second place at 6-under-par 210 for the tournament. Preston Valder of Yorba Linda, Calif., and Thomas Birdsey of The Woodlands, Texas, finished just two shots back of the winner Pederson in a tie for third at 5-under-par 211. Curtis Yonke, who will play golf at KansasStateUniversity in the fall, rounded out the top five at 4-under-par 212 following a final round 3-under-par 69.
In the Girls Division, Maymon started out her round a bit shaky, as she bogeyed the opening hole, but she hurriedly erased that bogey with a birdie on the following, par-5 No. 2. She went on to make five pars in a row before making a birdie on the difficult par-4 No. 8, finishing her opening nine with a three-shot lead. Despite owning a four-shot lead entering the final two holes, Maymon admittedly had some leader jitters, which are somewhat to blame for her bogey on par-5 No. 17. That bogey wouldn't matter, though, as Maymon settled herself and parred No. 18 for a tournament total of 4-over-par 220 and a three-shot victory.
"I played really well. I did everything well, and I really enjoyed it," Maymon said. "I'm really happy to win because two weeks before I was playing really bad, but I really practiced, so it feels really good to win."
Although Maymon led solidly for the duration of the round, Christina Cantu of Houston, didn't make it easy on her, shooting an impressive 1-under-par 71, her best round of the tournament, which gave her a 7-over-par 223 three-day total. Chelsea Bretcher of Austin, Texas, continued her steady play, firing her third consecutive day of 3-over-par 75 for a 9-over-par 225 tournament total, rounding out the top three for the Girls Division.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA, the largest Association of its kind, has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 350 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
For more information about the Randy Smith Classic presented by the Lubbock Sports Authority, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.