Dalke wins Ping for 3rd AJGA invitational victory
Two years ago, Brad Dalke became the youngest boy to win an AJGA invitational when he won the 2011 Thunderbird International Junior at 13 years old.
At age 15, Dalke added his second AJGA invitational title, at the 2013 HP Boys Championship.
Now, a couple months after turning 16 years old, Dalke has a third AJGA invitational victory.
Dalke, of Hobart, Okla., outlasted 15-year-old Andy Zhang of Reunion, Fla., to capture the boys-division title at the AJGA Ping Invitational on Monday in Stillwater, Okla. Dalke made a 7-footer for birdie on the final hole to card a final-round even-par 72 on a difficult Karsten Creek layout and finish at 1-under 215, a shot ahead of Zhang, who became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Open as a 14-year-old in 2012.
In the girls division, Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass., earned her first AJGA title, shooting a final-round even-par 72 to finish at 2-over 218 and win by three shots over Andrea Lee and Lilia Vu.
Dalke, an Oklahoma commit since the age of 12 and the No. 3 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Boys Rankings, entered the final round one shot ahead of Zhang, but through the first seven holes has stretched his lead on the field to four shots. Zhang, meanwhile, triple-bogeyed the par-4 fourth.
But bogeys at Nos. 8 and 10, both par 4s, dropped Dalke to 1 over for the tournament and allowed Zhang, who birdied Nos. 9 and 12, to pull even with Dalke through 12 holes.
After a Zhang bogey at No. 13 and birdies for both players at the par-5 14th, Dalke entered the final hole, the par-5 18th, with a one-shot advantage. Both players went for the green in two shots and both missed. Zhang, with more green to work with than Dalke, chipped to about 2 feet while Dalke's flop shot landed 7 feet past the hole.
Then, just as he had done in his last AJGA invitational victory when he made a 3-footer for par on the final hole to win the 2013 HP Boys Championship, Dalke made another tournament-winning putt.
Zhang, Golfweek's eighth-ranked junior boy, would make his birdie, too, to finish solo second at even-par 216, six shots better than Justin Kim and Matthew Perrine, who tied for third at 6-over 222.
Dalke now becomes the second youngest boy to win three AJGA invitationals at 16 years, 1 month and 25 days old. The youngest was Seung Su Han, who won the 2001 Junior All-Star Invitational and 2001 FootJoy Invitational before capturing the 2002 HP Boys Championship at 15 years, 10 months and 24 days old.
Khang's final-round 72 was tied for Monday's lowest in either division. It also helped her overcome a one-shot deficit entering the final round.
Lee, Kaitlyn Papp and Golfweek's top-ranked Nicole Morales were tied for the 36-hole lead before posting rounds of 76, 78 and 78, respectively.