5 Things: Austen Truslow takes Junior Players title
PHOTOS: 2013 Junior Players Championship
View images of the final round of The Junior Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. –– Past winners of the AJGA Junior Players Championship include Robby Shelton, Gavin Hall, Bobby Wyatt and Morgan Hoffmann.
Now Austen Truslow can be added to that list of names after the Virginia commit shot a final-round, 3-over 75 Sunday at TPC Sawgrass to finish at 1-under 213 and win by two shots over Zachary Bauchou, George Cunningham and Austin Connelly.
The New Smyrna Beach, Fla., native made five birdies to help negate some of the damage from four bogeys and two double bogeys Sunday on the Players Stadium course, and he held on for the victory in his first invitational start.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from the final round of the Junior Players:
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1. SENSE OF BELONGING: Austen Truslow knows his game is good enough to compete with the best junior golfers in the country. But entering his first AJGA invitational this week at TPC Sawgrass, Truslow felt a little under the radar.
“The AJGA is a pretty close-knit community and a lot of the guys have been playing together for two or three years, so they know each other pretty well,” Truslow said. “I definitely felt a little bit isolated from it.”
Not that it bothered him, but Truslow has reason to feel like he belongs now.
Making his first AJGA invitational start, Truslow grabbed a share of the first-round lead after a 1-under 71 Friday on the Players Stadium course. He took a two-shot lead on the field after a 3-under 67 Saturday on the Dye’s Valley course. And then he capped things off with a 3-over 75 Sunday back on the Players Stadium – the score included four bogeys and two double bogeys, but also five birdies.
Truslow said he’s been dealing with swing issues recently – he’s getting a little high at the top, which has him struggling to keep his swing on-plane – and after about the third hole Sunday, his swing fell apart.
“I lost my swing,” said Truslow, who is coached by Mike Bender. “I never really had a swing, really, just had faith that I could get it done with a swing that definitely needs some improvement.”
Truslow said he watched Saturday as Phil Mickelson fought through a tough second round to shoot even par at the Deutsche Bank Championship, a day after shooting an 8-under 63.
“I just kept a positive attitude out there,” Truslow said.
Entering the final hole, Truslow led Bauchou by two shots. He took 3-iron off the 18th tee and found the fairway. His second shot missed, but he delivered a nice, soft chip from a tough lie to about 12 feet and two-putted for bogey to win.
“That was probably the most nerve-racking chip I’ve ever had,” Truslow said.
Truslow, who had previously qualified for the FootJoy Invitational and Rolex Tournament of Champions but couldn’t participate, will now turn his focus toward high school golf. His Lake Mary (Fla.) Prep Griffins, a team that also includes Chris DiMarco’s son, Cristian, are expected to be one of the top teams in the state.
Truslow can now be mentioned along with the top junior players in the country – and he definitely felt a sense of belonging giving his victory speech in front of his peers.
“With winning, I definitely feel like I earned their respect,” Truslow said. “Once you win, people start to pay a little more attention.”
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2. SCOTTIE’S SUPER STRETCH: For Scottie Scheffler, the past month and a half has been a long one. He’s not complaining, though.
The Texas verbal commit closed July by winning the U.S. Junior Amateur and then made a run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Amateur in mid-August. He capped his busy late-summer stretch with a sixth-place finish at the Junior Players.
“I was hoping I’d cap it off with a win, but I shot myself out of it the first day,” said Scheffler, who shot 76-71-70 to finish at 3-over 217.
Scheffler now plans to return home to Dallas and take some time off. He’s not sure if he’ll play in the Ping Invitational in mid-October – “I’ll have to ask my high school basketball coach,” he said.
While he’s happy for a bit of a break after a grueling summer of golf, Scheffler is still a little upset he’s not playing in one more tournament this month – the Walker Cup. Scheffler was on a short list of names for one of the final three spots (not including the two mid-am spots) on U.S. captain Jim Holtgrieve’s team, but was left off in favor of Michael Weaver, Jordan Niebrugge and Bobby Wyatt.
“I thought I should have (been on the team), but it’s his (Holtgrieve’s) call,” said Scheffler, who is ranked No. 9 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, the fourth highest by an American and at least 13 spots higher than Weaver, Niebrugge or Wyatt. “I still have a lot of time (to make a Walker Cup team), though.”
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3. BETTER THIS TIME AROUND: The last time Jorge Garcia played a final round on the Players Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass, he shot 10-over 82.
That was in the final round of last year’s Junior Players, when the Venezuelan made two bogeys and four double bogeys, including one at the par-3 17th. He finished T-60.
This time around, though, Garcia fared much better. He carded a 1-under 71 Sunday, making three birdies in his first five holes, to help secure a seventh-place finish at 4-over 218.
“It’s a much better feeling,” said the Florida commit, who won the Puerto Rico Junior Open and the Thunderbird International Junior earlier this year.
“I’ve worked really hard the last year and a lot of things have gone well for me. It helps me know where I stand better and I really feel like I fit in with some of the best guys out here.”
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4. BOGEY-FREE GHIM: Taylor Funk, son of Fred Funk and a Texas commit, spent much of the three rounds following around future college teammate and friend, Doug Ghim.
Funk, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., has played the Players Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass many times. And he can’t remember if he’s ever shot bogey-free on it.
Ghim, however, can stake claim to that feat after Sunday.
After making a 12-footer to save par at the par-4 18th hole, Ghim delivered a big fist pump. No, he didn’t win the tournament, but he did shoot a bogey-free, 3-under 69, a score that would help him sneak into the top 10 at 6-over 220.
“It went dead-center, and it felt great,” Ghim said. “I wasn’t thinking about being bogey-free, but one of my goals was to make as few bogeys as I could because I played well the first two days but I just made too many big mistakes.”
Ghim said he might have missed five greens Sunday. His father, Jeff Ghim, said his son probably just missed eight or nine more birdies.
“On almost every hole I was touching the hole (before making a short putt),” Ghim said.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Zachary Bauchou’s T-2 finish was his fourth top-10 showing in an AJGA invitational this season. . . . After finishing runner-up to Robby Shelton a year ago, Brad Dalke tied for 13th at 7-over 221. He will now travel to Sandwich, England, to play in the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy on Sept. 9-12 at Royal St George’s Golf Club. . . . George Cunningham made four of his six final-round birdies on the back nine, including one each at Nos. 16 and 17. He shot 3-under 69 Sunday to finish at 1-over 215.