Sage Valley: Olsen aiming for second gold jacket

Defending champion Zachary Olsen, of Cordova, Tenn., poses in front of the clubhouse after his junior-am round at the Junior Invitational on Thursday.

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GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -- Zachary Olsen became the second winner of the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley last year when he won by three shots for his first national junior tournament victory.

He’ll look to add another Gibbs Trophy this year in what could possibly be his final junior tournament before starting at Oklahoma State in the fall.

“It’s really cool (to be back as the defending champion),” Olsen said. “Sage Valley is obviously a special place regardless of how I played last year, but it’s nice to come back and see all the places where I had special moments and stuff.”

Olsen said not much has changed since he won a year ago. He knows his way around this golf course a little better, although a newly redesigned par-4 17th hole and added length to the par-4 18th stood out to the Cordova, Tenn., native.

“No. 17 is completely different,” Olsen said. “I was looking at my yardage book and I just basically chucked any (previous) information out on No. 17.”

But despite familiarity with Sage Valley, Olsen is not a lock to win again. He’s ranked No. 35 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings and hasn’t won a major event since last year’s Junior Invitational. He finished outside the top 10 at the Thunderbird International Junior, FootJoy invitational, Junior PGA and Ping Invitational in 2012.

This year he’s opted to start the year playing amateur events, finishing well at the Terra Cotta Invitational, where he was T-3. He said the Junior Invitational should be his last junior event, unless he fails to get into the Western Amateur. In that case, he’ll play the Western Junior to try and qualify for it.

What better way to go out than with another gold jacket? And hopefully with one that fits.

“(The jacket I got last year) it doesn’t really fit me,” Olsen said. “It’s about five sizes too big. There was some confusion and I just never got another one.”

That’s why Olsen wasn’t wearing his Sage Valley blazer at Wednesday night’s opening ceremonies.

But if he can repeat, he’ll make sure the second one fits.

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