Lindsey Weaver and Blake Barens staved off their competition June 7 to claim the AJGA titles in their respective divisions at the PING Phoenix Junior at ASU Karsten in Tempe, Ariz.
Weaver, a Scottsdale, Ariz. native, entered the final round at 3 under, clinging to a one-stroke lead over Allisen Corpuz of Honolulu, Hawaii. On the final day, a 2-over 72 from Weaver allowed Corpuz, who shot a one-over 71, to catch Weaver for a share of the 54-hole lead at 1-under.
In the sudden death playoff, Weaver rediscovered her groove to take home the title. Both Weaver and Corpuz made par on the first playoff hole, but on the second, a birdie from Weaver propelled her to victory.
Each competitor had an opportunity for birdie on the second playoff hole, but only Weaver capitalized. “On No. 11 (second playoff hole) I hit a wedge to about five feet, she hit hers to about 12, and I made mine to seal the win,” Weaver said.
The title was the Notre Dame commit’s ninth AJGA championship. It was also Weaver’s final hurrah in her home state.
“It means a lot to me because this is my last tournament in Arizona as a junior golfer in the AJGA,” she said.
On the boys’ side, steady play from Barens guided the Villa Park, Calif. native to victory. After shooting a first round 3-under 67, Barens posted two even-par 70s to finish with the tourney’s top score of 3 under.
Dean Sakata was the Day 2 leader after a second round 4-under 66 put him at 5 under. Sakata’s lead evaporated in the final round when a 3-over 73 dropped the Diamond Bar, Calif. native into a tie for second place with Cody McManus of Phoenix, Ariz. McManus, who entered the day one stroke behind Sakata, shot a two-over 72. The two finished one shot behind Barens at two-under.
While Barens watched his competitors stumble Thursday, the eventual champion battled the challenging course until the final putt. “It was playing really tough out there, so I knew it was not about who was going to go really low; it was more just about surviving out there,” he said. “I found out I was about tied going into No. 15, so I knew I had a chance; I just had to hold on.”
Barens made just one bogey on the back nine to help scrape out the victory. The comeback win was Baren’s first AJGA title of his career.