Hunter Ranch Golf Course invited some of the top junior golfers, ages 12-15, to Paso Robles last week for the AJGA Junior All-Star Tournament that was conducted by the American Junior Golf Association. The tournament featured many of the top young golfers, not just from America, but from around the entire world. This tournament featured players from California, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah, China, Thailand and others.
The players arrived on Sunday night, and played a practice round on Monday. The tournament lasted for three days, with the final round finishing around 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Hunter Ranch Head Professional Dave Lewis oversaw the tournament and praised the players and their families for their class both on and off the course.
“The course [Hunter Ranch] did really really well,” he said. “The players are incredible; they are 12-15 year olds and it is a group of very talented kids. Five under par won for the girls and two under won for the girls, phenomenal stuff. The girls played from roughly the silver tees, boys from roughly the tips. It’s amazing, they are as cordial as respectful and nice a group of kids and parents that I’ve ever been associated with, and there is 96 of them.”
Par was set at 72 for both the men and women with the winners both shooting under. Ty Griggs, 15, shot even par in his opening round on Tuesday, then shot one over on Wednesday before shooting a 69 on the final day, the second lowest round of the tournament.
“Coming into the first round I knew that I couldn’t play myself out of the tournament, I knew that if I stuck around even I would be good,” Griggs said of his strategy coming into the All-Star Tournament.
“Day two it was a little rougher even though I started with two birdies, I was two under after six,” he said. “Then I kind of gave it back and finished at one over.”
Griggs entered the final day of the tournament two strokes behind the leader and knew that if he could stay close to even through the tough beginning holes, he would have a shot at the victory.
“I knew that if I was even through 13 I’d definitely have a good shot at coming at the leader.” Griggs said of his final round, “Luckily I finished with four birdies in the last five holes to get up to the leader who actually birdied 17, so he was winning by one coming into the last hole.”
Aidan Goldstein missed his potential winning putt, opening the door for Griggs in a playoff. The two played the 18th hole twice in a row after they both parred it the first time around. You can see Griggs’ tournament winning putt on the Atascadero News website.
Kaleiya Romero, 12, won the ladies competition with a few strokes to spare. Her three day total came out to a five under 212, the second place finisher recorded a 217.
Hunter Ranch is known for at times being a bit narrow in the fairways and also have difficult greens, the perfect recipe for a golf tournament. However, Romero was unphased by the fairways that regularly give others fits, as she chuckled when talking about the courses difficulty.
“The course was in great shape, I really loved it,” Romero said. “The greens were really tricky, but they worked for me [giggles].”
Romero also noted that she would like to come back to Paso Robles when she said, “I’ll always want to come here because I guess it’s my lucky course.”
The awards ceremony was held after the tournament underneath the outstretched branches of the oak trees that shade the club house. At the ceremony Lewis showered the parents and players with compliments and also mentioned, “The future of golf, if this is what we have to look forward too is phenomenal, I mean its awesome.”