Merkulov delivers at N.Y. Junior Am

You may remember Yaroslav Merkulov from the U.S. Junior, where he advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Jordan Spieth. Ray McCarthy wrote about how Merkulov moved to the U.S. from Russia on his fourth birthday, and underwent open-heart surgery when he was 10.

Well, Merkulov added another chapter to his story last week at the New York State Junior, shooting a final-round 61 for a 10-shot victory. Merkulov finished at 8-under 144 (73-61). Merkulov won the New York State Amateur three weeks earlier.

His 61 broke the competitive course at Skaneateles (N.Y.) Country Club record by six shots. Former PGA Tour winner Tom Scherrer held the previous course record with a 62 at the par-71, 6,474-yard course.

“I was just in the zone today,” Merkulov said. “I felt like every shot I hit today, even if it was a tee shot, I was going to hole it. It was an unusual sense of confidence.”

He received some advice from his mother before the final round that helped him go low.

“My mom hasn’t given me a golf lesson in my life, but she had me close the face of my putter a little more and I stopped missing putts to the right,” Merkulov said.

Gavin Hall, runner-up at this year’s AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, won the younger division by 13 shots with a 9-under 133 total (68-65).

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