Garcia, Morales claim AJGA Thunderbird titles
Jorge Garcia and Nicole Morales each claimed titles at the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior on May 27.
Garcia opened up the tournament with back-to-back rounds of 68 before shooting a 2-under 70 for a total of 10-under 206. Garcia held off Scott Scheffler and Brad Dalke, who finished at 6-under and 4-under, respectively.
In the girls division, Morales birdied the 18th to edge out Ashlan Ramsey by a single stroke. Both players shot a final-round 69 at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Morales finished with a 54-hole total of 5-under 211.
“The only thing I wanted to do today was to keep my tempo,” Morales said. “It was probably one of the best rounds of golf I’ve ever had because I didn’t let anything bother me.”
At last year’s Thunderbird, the 16-year-old shot 12-over 228 and tied for twenty-second.
“That was her worst tournament ever,” said Cheryl Anderson, Morales’ coach of eight years. “She played in a different part of the country and had never been exposed to the weather before. She’s working on getting used to the altitudes and different grasses, but mostly on chipping and pitching.”
Morales believes that the practice she’s put into chip shots saved her in Scottsdale this week.
“You can’t leave yourself above the hole on this course, especially with a chip shot,” she said. “My chip shot around the green saves me.”
Morales and Anderson agree that another factor in last year’s disappointing Thunderbird appearance was Morales’ attitude. Preparing for this summer’s tournament schedule has proven to be both a physical and mental battle.
“I have such a different mindset from last year,” the Alabama commit said. “This week I felt confident going in. I know that now I need to believe in myself and if I can manage to get my putter hot then I’m going to be pretty hard to beat.”
“When my putter starts, it’s all systems go. I can put myself in good positions I can take advantage of.”
Morales heads to the U.S. Women’s Open qualifier at Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, N.J. on Thursday. Garcia will be traveling in early June to the Mexican National Amateur at Guadalajara Country Club in Jalisco, Mexico.