POTOMAC FALLS, Va. – Tyler McDaniel of Manchester, Ky., and Amy Lee of Brea, Calif., won the boys and girls division, respectively, of the Junior PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club (Washington, D.C.) on Friday.
McDaniel and Lee both needed to make clutch putts on No. 18 for the win.
McDaniel shot rounds of 70-70-65-69 for a 10-under 274 total on the Tournament Championship course.
He got off to a slow start during the final round, but made birdie putts on Nos. 10, 11 and 13 to take the lead over Sam Burns of Shreveport, La.
Burns, a 17-yead-old, had birdied Nos. 1-3 to get off to a fast start.
The momentum changed on No. 12 for Burns. He took the wrong club off the tee on the par-3 while behind him McDaniel was making a birdie.
McDaniel took a one-shot lead into the 16th before making a mess of the par-4. He went into the high fescue off the tee just as Burns was signing his scorecard for a 4-under 67. McDaniel thought he was on the correct line to find his ball, but instead he was not. He looked and looked – possibly longer than the allotted five-minute search-time for a lost ball – but they couldn’t find it. A rules official came over and said time was up and he needed to head back to the tee. Less than 10 seconds later, a spectator found his ball, but he was not allowed to play it. He ended up with a double-bogey six.
But McDaniel had more left in the tank. He birdied the par-5 17th with a two-putt from 40 feet after reaching the green in two.
McDaniel, 17, came to 18 tied for the lead with Burns.
He decided to hit 3-wood off the tee and in his words, “my 3-wood is money.”
McDaniel, a verbal commit to Kentucky, had 158-yards, a little up hill into the green, and used a 9-iron to stick it to 4 feet.
“I just swung it,” he said.
McDaniel would make the 4-footer to secure his first national tournament victory.
“I took a little bit different approach (to this tournament). I tried to quietly just stay in contention this year and one low round got me in it,” McDaniel said. “Today, all the pins were tucked and the pressure of winning the tournament was on the line and that’s how I like it.”
Not 10 minutes earlier, Lee fist pumped her way to victory with a 15-foot par save on 18.
“Half way through I was like, ‘It’s going in.’”
Lee, a USC commit, came back from a four-shot deficit in the final round to claim the championship.
Abbey Carlson, the 54-hole leader, started with a bogey on No. 1, but then proceeded to make four birdies in a nine hole stretch to take a four-shot lead through 10 holes.
Lee made birdie on No. 11 to get it to three-shots, and just as No. 16 caused trouble for McDaniel it also hurt Carlson. For the first time all week, she bogeyed the 16th.
The lead was cut to two shots.
The par-5 17th plagued Carlson again as Lee birdied. A two-shot swing ensued as Carlson bogeyed and the girls were all tied heading to No. 18.
Both players put their drives right down the fairway, but both approach shots went into the greenside bunker.
Lee played first and left her bunker shot 15 short, while Carlson’s went 15 feet long.
“It was just a putting game,” Lee said.
Kristen Gillman, the third player in the group, putted from 50 feet away first and gave Lee a decent looking read at the left to right breaking putt. Carlson went next and she sent her putt 2 feet past the whole. Lee stepped up and knocked in the putt for a one-shot victory.
“I’m ecstatic right now. I am so happy,” Lee said. “I fee like this is the biggest accomplishment I’ve had yet.”
Carlson wasn’t disappointed. She was actually happy with the way she played.
“If you told me I would have finished 4 under for the tournament, I would have been thrilled,” Carlson said. “I’ve never been in the lead at a tournament of this caliber going into the final day, so it was a new experience. And I may not have pulled it off in the end, but I learned a lot.”
McDaniel and Carlson now have their first big victories of their young golf careers.