Miller, Meadow win Golfweek Jr. Invitational
Stephanie Meadow and Mike Miller explain how they won the Golfweek Junior Invitational.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Sunday could have been a bad day for Mike Miller if he hadn’t managed to rally on the third hole. As it turned out, Miller walked away with the Golfweek Junior Invitational title and a good memory to take into the off season.
Miller, 17, of Brewster, N.Y., entered the final round one shot behind leader Kyle Jones. After a double bogey on No. 1 and a missed birdie putt at No. 2, Miller rattled off four birdies in seven holes at Reunion Resort’s Legacy Course and kept his focus as wind gusts picked up during the afternoon. HIs playing partners, Jones and Jordan Janico, struggled coming down the stretch.
“On No. 9, when I made birdie and they both made a bogey,” he said. “There was about a two- or three-shot swing there. I knew I had the momentum, I just kind of went with it.”
Miller bogeyed the par-4 12th, but backed it up with birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 to close with a 3-under 69. He was at 2-under 142 for the tournament.
Golfweek Junior Invitational highlights
“I was hitting it really well, I played smart,” Miller said. “... I just kept it in play.”
The event marked the end of Miller’s 2009 season, a highlight of which was qualifying for the U.S. Junior Amateur. This week Miller “free-willed it” as the tournament was his last before he’ll switch focus to hockey for the winter. He also has committed to play golf at Penn State in the fall.
Marcel Puyat recorded the second-lowest round of the tournament in the final round with a 70. The 16-year-old had five birdies in the first 11 holes before bogeying the par-4 12th. He had bogeys at Nos. 16 and 18 to close his round, and was at 3-over 147 for the tournament.
Jordan Niebrugge, 16, also battled the wind successfully, carding a second-round 73 that moved him into third at 4-over 148.
Janico, 17, was tied for second with Miller after Round 1, but struggled Sunday and posted a 76 that included just two birdies. Playing a new set of Titleist AP2 irons and wedges he had only had for a week, the 17-year-old struggled to keep the ball low against the wind.
“Still trying to get used to distances and ball flight, so that was kind of tough today,” he said.
Jones, 16, also struggled in the final round, falling from the top spot to a tie for fifth after a 78. He lost a ball in shrubbery to the left of the green at the par-5 15th and made double bogey, then added two more bogeys at Nos. 16 and 18.
“For the wind I was playing solid,” Jones said. “I made a couple bogeys but that’s going to happen out there. I kind of struggled on the back. Just not my day.”
In the girls’ division, Stephanie Meadow made history with her victory. She was the first player to win multiple Golfweek Junior Invitational titles in the event’s eight-year history.
“It brings back good memories because you already won it,” Meadow, 17, said. “I know it’s a different course this time, but it’s still good feelings.”
Golfweek Junior Invitational Final Round
Stephanie Meadows defended her title at the Golfweek Junior Invitational as Mike Miller won the Boys' Division by five shots.
Meadow, 17, carded the only sub-par round Saturday, and took a three-shot lead into the final round. Meadow, from Antrim, Ireland, expertly battled wind gusts throughout the tournament, and was able to shape shots against the wind – something she has been working on.
She started the final round with eight pars and a bogey at the 18th (her ninth), before carding her lone birdie at the par-4 fourth. She closed with three bogeys in the last four holes.
“You’re always nervous coming down the stretch, but that’s why you play golf to have that pressure and that adrenaline rush,” she said.
Meadow has committed to play for Alabama next fall, and will not be eligible to compete for a third victory in a row at next year’s Golfweek Junior Invitational.
Amy Ruengmateekhun made a big move up the leaderboard in the final round, carding an even-par 72. Ruengmateekhun cancelled out four bogeys with four birdies, and a double bogey with an eagle at the 475-yard par-5 15th.
The 18-year-old said she was able to take her round one shot at a time and not focus on the end result. She was at 5-over 149 for the tournament.
“I’m happy with my score. Seventy-two is a good round,” she said. “I haven’t gone this low in a while.”
Ruengmateekhun, who has committed to Southern Methodist, said she felt prepared for the tournament since she played in several invitationals over the summer. She also was the first alternate for the U.S. Women’s Open, but did not end up receiving a spot in the field.
Simin Feng, who was tied for third after Round 1, made a run at the title in her opening nine. Starting at No. 10, Feng eagled the 15th, and also had two birdies on that side. She had three double bogeys and two bogeys at the start of her second nine, and finished the day at 5-over 77. The 14-year-old tied for fifth at 8-over 152.
Linda Luo and Yueer Cindy Feng tied for third at 7-over 151.