Thompson, Schniederjans win Polo Junior
Alexis Thompson continued her path of domination Friday at the Polo Golf Junior Classic, taking a 3-and-2 victory over Victoria Tanco for the title.
It was the first AJGA invitational victory for Thompson, the top-ranked player in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings. The 14-year-old, who contended at the Navistar LPGA Classic in October, advanced to the final match at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., after knocking out A.J. Newell, 3 and 1, in the semifinals.
Tanco, a two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year, beat Kelly Shon, 5 and 3, in the other semifinal match. Tanco entered the Polo after losing a playoff to Rachel Morris for the top spot at the Ping Invitational in October. She has four AJGA wins, three of which were in invitationals.
“I have played Victoria a lot,” Thompson said of the final match. “We play together at pretty much every tournament, so I know her game pretty well. She’s a great competitor and I knew it was going to be a close match.”
Despite having momentum coming into the final, Tanco was 2 down after Thompson made consecutive birdies at Nos. 3 and 4.
Tanco’s birdie at the par-5 sixth and a par to Thompson’s bogey on the par-3 seventh put the match back to all square. Thompson went up again at the eighth, then Tanco put her drive in the water at the par-3 15th. Thompson birdied to go 2 up, then matched Tanco’s par at No. 16 to end the match.
This is Thompson’s first Polo win, and her fourth AJGA victory.
On the boys’ side, Oliver Schniederjans got his first AJGA win Friday, and seemed relieved to earn it. The 16-year-old from Powder Springs, Ga., finished second at the Ping Invitational and fifth at the Junior Players Championship this fall, making the win all the more sweet.
“I have a lot of top fives in tournaments, but this is the first one that I’ve won,” Schniederjans said. “I can kind of relax now so it’s a huge win for me.”
Schniederjans, ranked No. 18 in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings, earned his first win in style. He never trailed in the championship match and beat some of the top juniors in the nation to get there.
Schniederjans defeated Golfweek’s No. 4-ranked Emiliano Grillo, who won co-medalist honors, in the quarterfinals, then defeated Cameron Wilson, 3 and 2, in the semifinals. But his 1-up win over Whitsett in the final was made more impressive by Whitsett’s victory over Golfweek’s top-ranked junior, Jordan Spieth, in the semifinals.
Though Whitsett is coming off a five-month layoff due to a back injury, the 18-year-old from Houston, Texas, was clearly in good form beating Spieth, 2 and 1, in the semifinals. After falling 2 down through three holes, Whitsett stormed back and took a 3-up lead to the 14th. He held on for victory by making par on No. 17 to set up the showdown with Schniederjans.
After a fairly uneventful first six holes – Schniederjans was the only one to win a hole in that stretch with birdie on the par-5 third – the match took a wild turn when the next eight holes resulted in alternate wins for each player.
Schniederjans had to make a nervy 8-foot par putt on No. 17 to retain his 1-up lead, then watched as Whitsett failed to get up and down from the greenside bunker on No. 18, which gave Schniederjans the title.
“It’s a huge difference being 1 up instead of all square playing No. 18 because Cory can reach it in two and I can’t, so it was really important to make that putt,” Schniederjans said.
– The AJGA contributed to this report.
Results from the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic, played Nov. 23-27 at the PGA National Resort & Spa (Champion) in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.:
Oliver Schniederjans def. Cory Whitsett, 1 up
Cory Whitsett def. Jordan Spieth, 2 and 1
Oliver Schniederjans def. Cameron Wilson, 3 and 2
Jordan Spieth def. Matthew Ceravolo, 3 and 2
Cory Whitsett def. Bobby Wyatt, 2 and 1
Oliver Schniederjans def. Emiliano Grillo, 1 up
Cameron Wilson def. Denny McCarthy, 5 and 3
Matthew Ceravolo def. Curtis Thompson, 20 holes
Jordan Speith def. Jeff Wibawa, 6 and 5
Cory Whitsett def. Franco Castro, 5 and 4
Bobby Wyatt def. Richard Werenski, 1 up
Emiliano Grill def. Sean Kelly, 3 and 2
Oliver Schniederjans def. Stephen Behr Jr., 4 and 3
Denny McCarthy def. Clancy Waugh, 3 and 2
David Mills def. Cameron Wilson, 6 and 5
Curtis Thompson def. Anton Arboleda, 2 and 1
Matthew Ceravolo def. Wyndham Clark, 5 and 3
Jordan Spieth def. Tanner Kesterson, 2 and 1
Jeff Wibawa def. Kramer Hickok, 4 and 3
Cory Whitsett def. Theodore Lederhausen, 2 up
Franco Castro def. Motin Yeung, 1 up
Richard Werenski def. Jay Hwang, 4 and 3
Bobby Wyatt def. M.J. Maguire, 5 and 4
Emiliano Grillo def. Patrick Rodgers, 1 up
Sean Kelly def. Seiji Liu, 3 and 2
Oliver Schniederjans def. Ji Soo Park, 4 and 3
Stephen Behr Jr. def. Austin Cody, 4 and 3
Denny McCarthy def. Niclas Carlsson, 2 and 1
Clancy Waugh def. Oscar Lengdén, 19 holes
David Mills def. Jim Liu, 19 holes
Cameron Wilson def. Andrew Levitt, 1 up
• • •
Alexis Thompson def. Victoria Tanco, 3 and 2
Victoria Tanco def. Kelly Shon, 5 and 3
Alexis Thompson def. A.J. Newell, 3 and 1
Victoria Tanco def. Tiffany Lim, 1 up
Kelly Shon def. Simin Feng, 5 and 4
A.J. Newell def. Emma Talley, 2 and 1
Alexis Thompson def. Grace Na, 5 and 4
Tiffany Lim def. Alison Lee, 1 up
Victoria Tanco def. Austin Ernst, 4 and 2
Simin Feng def. Casey Grice, 6 and 5
Kelly Shon def. Doris Chen, 3 and 2
A.J. Newell def. Kristen Park, 19 holes
Emma Talley def. Marijosse Navarro, 5 and 4
Alexis Thompson def. Beverly Vantananugulkit, 4 and 2
Grace Na def. Sarah Brown, 2 and 1
Tiffany Lim def. Nicole Zhang, 4 and 3
Alison Lee def. Ani Gulugian, 20 holes
Austin Ernst def. Gabriella Then, 5 and 4
Victoria Tanco def. Kyle Roig, 6 and 5
Casey Grice def. Szu-Han Chen, 2 up
Simin Feng def. Madelene Sagström, 1-up
Doris Chen def. Michelle Butler, 4 and 2
Kelly Shon def. Mariah Stackhouse, 2 and 1
Kristen Park def. Jessica Korda, 19 holes
A.J. Newell def. Luz Alejandra Cangrejo, 19 holes
Emma Talley def. Tanaporn Kongkiatkrai, 1 up
Marijosse Navarro def. Ashlan Ramsey, 1 up
Alexis Thompson def. Yueer Cindy Feng, 6 and 4
Beverly Vatananugulkit def. Laetitia Beck, 4 and 3
Grace Na def. Stephanie Meadow, 2 up
Sarah Brown def. Jessica Vasilic, 2 and 1