Mendenhall, Richani win Golfweek Northern California Junior Open

Carlton Reese/Golfweek

Mendenhall, Richani win Golfweek Northern California Junior Open

Junior

Mendenhall, Richani win Golfweek Northern California Junior Open

SCORES: Boys | Girls

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Despite everything Mother Nature threw at them, Drake Mendenhall and Vanessa Richani navigated the Haggin Oaks MacKenzie Course and the field of the 2017 Golfweek Northern California Junior Open with great success.

Battling a steady rain, chilly temperatures and even a hailstorm at one point in the first round, Mendenhall, of Granite Bay, Calif., shot 68-68–136 in winning the boys title while Richani posted 67-73–140 in claiming the girls championship.

With their victories, Mendenhall and Richani both earned automatic invitations to next month’s Golfweek West Coast Junior Invitational in Mesa, Ariz., as well as the Golfweek International Junior Invitational in early November in Florida.

Especially brilliant in Saturday’s rough conditions, Mendenhall posted five birdies in his round before a bogey at the 15th. It helped him to a three-shot lead and he distanced himself even more from the field with a hot start in Sunday’s final round. Mendenhall began the final round with birdies at Nos. 1, 3 and 4 but still needed to close strong in order to wrap up the title.

Playing in the group ahead of Mendenhall was Justin Gums of Lodi, Calif., and he applied pressure early and late in his round. Gums, who shot 73 in the opening round, started with three straight birdies then an eagle at the 517-yard par-5 fourth. Still chasing Mendenhall, Gums was 4 under for his round through 10 holes and proceeded to post birdies at 11, 13 and 18 for a tournament-best 65, forcing Mendenhall to make no mistakes on the inward holes.

Mendenhall made birdie at the par-3 16th and closed with a birdie at the par-5 18th to seal a two-shot victory over Gums.

Roberto Nieves, of Miami, Fla., made a strong bid in the final round, finishing at 73-68–141 to take third place. Scott Rescigno, of Reno, Nev., placed fourth after scoring 73-70–143.

A trio of players tied for fifth: Drew Reinke, of Meridian, Idaho (71-74–145), Connor Motherway, of Reno, Nev. (78-67–145), and Kevin Huff, of El Dorado Hills, Calif. (74-71–145).

For Richani, a Granite Bay resident, the opening round was a masterpiece. Her card showed no bogeys and five birdies for a spectacular 67 that came late in the day as darkness was settling in. She led Phoebe Yue, of West Vancouver in Canada, by four shots heading into the final round and needed that cushion after a rough start in Sunday’s final round.

A double bogey at the second hole followed by a bogey at the seventh pulled Yue within one shot of the lead. But Yue would bogey the par-4 ninth and Richani would return to her opening-round form with birdies at 10 and 12 to stretch the lead back to an insurmountable five shots.

Yue finished at 71-73–144 for sole possession of second place while Rolling Hills Estates’ Nicole Suppelsa (75-71–146) and Palo Alto’s Divya Tadimeti (74-72–146) shared third-place honors.

Three players tied for fifth place: Andrea Gomez Lloret, of The Woodland, Texas (73-74—147), Hailey Rietz, of Rancho Cordova, Calif. (72-75—147), and Mika Jin, of Fremont, Calif. (76-71—147).

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