Healy shoots 67, wins Golfweek East Coast Junior

Zachary Healy at the Golfweek East Coast Junior Invitational at Celebration Golf Club.

Zachary Healy at the Golfweek East Coast Junior Invitational at Celebration Golf Club.

Boys Rankings »

#NameYearStateRating
1Scott Scheffler2014TX67.26
2Zecheng Dou2015CA67.76
3Andy Zhang2016FL68.34
4Austin Connelly2015TX68.42
5Brad Dalke2016OK68.46

CELEBRATION, Fla. –- The course at Celebration Golf Club played tough on Saturday, yielding just one round under par.

But even with the high opening-round scores, Zachary Healy knew he’d need at least a round in the 60s on Sunday to have a shot at winning the Golfweek East Coast Junior Invitational.

“I figured I’d need to shoot 3 or 4 under,” said Healy, who shot even-par 72 in the first round and entered the final round a shot behind leader Callahan Elzey. “I had a feeling someone was going to go low.”

Turns out that someone was Healy.

The 16-year-old from Peachtree Corners, Ga., carded the low score Sunday, shooting 5-under 67 to win the boys title by three strokes over Saravit Kerdsinchni and Corey Pereira, who both shot final-round 70s.

“I actually was a little surprised,” Healy said. “The greens were a little bit tricky. They have some good undulation in them and it’s kind of tough to make putts. This isn’t an easy golf course.”

While a majority of the field struggled on the green, Healy used his putter to pull away from the field early. He set a torrid pace through nine holes on Sunday, finishing the front nine in 5-under 31.

The run included five birdies, including one on each of the first two par-5s. It also included a 45-minute wait due to a backup on the third tee box.

“It was definitely not easy,” Healy said. “I usually stretch before I warm up and I pretty much went through my whole stretching routine again. Sitting there for 45 minutes, you don’t stay loose.”

Healy’s first shot after the wait landed about a foot from the pin – a 5-iron off the tee at the par-3 third hole. He then reached the par-5 fourth hole in two despite finding the rough with his tee shot. He would two-putt there for birdie.

After an up-and-down for birdie at the par-5 sixth, Healy closed the front nine with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9. He made an 8-footer for birdie on No. 8 after hitting a high 9-iron over a tree. On No. 9, he stuck his approach to about 2 feet with a 56-degree wedge.

“The front nine, I just caught fire,” Healy said.

On a day where most of the other leaders struggled – Elzey shot 78 to fall back to T-14 and Samuel Uhland, who entered the round T-2, finished T-23 after a 79 – Healy avoided the costly mistakes.

After holing out from about 40 yards for eagle on the par-5 12th hole, Healy remained steady. He did bogey Nos. 15 and 18, but it was still enough to hold off Kerdsinchni and Pereira, who were playing in the groups in front of Healy.

“I was just trying to keep it guarded and not make any mistakes,” Healy said.

And after a front nine like the one he had Sunday, Healy was able to play more conservatively and notch his first win since a victory at the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour UGAAutoTrader.com Invitational on Oct. 15, 2011.

Healy will play next at the Jones Cup Junior Dec. 21-23 at Sea Island Golf Club, which will be his last junior event of the year. It’s a good one too having been won by Matt NeSmith, Motin Yeung and Oliver Schneiderjans the past three years, respectively. Healy will enter that event with a little more momentum after getting his first win in more than a year.

“This was a real confidence-booster,” Healy said. “Hopefully it will get my ranking up a lot more. This was a fun tournament and I really enjoyed it.”

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