Special to The Sentinel-Echo
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Nathan Pirtle of Sullivan, Ind., posted a tournament total 1-over-par 217 and won the ensuing sudden-death playoff for his first AJGA victory at the PNC Bank Junior Championship presented by London & Laurel County. In the girls’ division, Sophia Schubert of Oak Ridge, Tenn., fired a final-round 3-under-par 69 for a tournament total 216, claiming the AJGA victory at Crooked Creek Golf Club
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the PNC Bank Junior Championship presented by London & Laurel County was a 54-hole stroke play competition, played on the par-72 course at Crooked Creek Golf Club. The event featured 108 boys and 35 girls, ages 12-18, from 20 states and five countries. The boy’s division played the course at 6,773 yards while the Girls Division played the course at 5,996 yards.
Pirtle entered the final round as a co-leader, shooting 39 on the front nine, and 36 before his sudden-death playoff with Austen Christiansen of Spring, Texas. Pirtle birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 17 en route to his final-round 75.
“The second day was a tough day,” Pirtle said. “The weather was nasty, it was cold and wet and the scores were higher, so I felt pretty good with a 73 and tied for the lead going into to the last day. I knew I was in a pretty good position to win or have a chance to win at the end. I hung together throughout the whole round and gave myself just that chance.”
Pirtle was tied for the lead on No. 17, when he sunk a 25-foot putt for birdie, giving him the lead at the time.
“As soon as it left my club face I was like, ‘oh that’s perfect,’ and I chased it right into the hole,” Pirtle said. “It was unreal, it was unbelievable. I can’t even explain the feelings I was having. I was excited, but I was trying to hold back my nerves because I knew I had to be close to the lead.”
Christiansen started the final round off No. 10, six strokes back from the lead and posted a final-round 69. He birdied six times, carding 35 on his front nine, and 34 on the back to force a playoff after Pirtle bogeyed No. 18.
In the playoff, Pirtle put his approach shot five feet from the hole on the par-5, No.18 and, after missing his birdie putt, made par. Christiansen’s drive off the tee found the hazard, but he ultimately set himself up for a par-save.
With Pirtle holding the flag and watching nearby, Christiansen’s 4-foot par putt rolled just past the hole, giving Pirtle champion honors.
Andrew McKinney of Danville, Ky., and Michael Sass of Louisville, Ky., tied for third at 2-over-par 218. Hunter Howell of Franklin, Tenn., won the Scotty Cameron Award with the low-final round at 5-under-par 67, tying with Davis Shore of Knoxville, Tenn., for fifth at 219.
In the girls’ division, Schubert, who started the round four shots back of the lead, shot 2-under-par 34 on the front nine. She three-putted on Nos. 10 and 11, but stormed back late in her round.
“I kind of got down on myself, but I was even par, I was striking the ball well all day,” said Schubert who will be a senior next year. “Finally the putts started falling again and I birdied Nos. 15, 16 and 17; so it was just a fun, good day.”
The Auburn commit followed up her string of birdies with a par on No. 18, securing her second AJGA victory.
“I feel like everything was pretty consistent, my drives were down the middle my approach shots were pretty good today,” said Schubert. “This summer has been kind of a disappointing summer, I’ve not played well at all really and I changed a bunch of stuff in my swing and just worked really hard; I’m proud of myself and I’m just happy that it finally came at the end of the season.”
Finishing second was Elsa Moberly of Science Hill, Ky., at 1-over-par 217. Carolyn Markley of Maineville, Ohio, finished third at 218 after shooting a 3-under-par 69, matching Schubert’s low final round for the Scotty Cameron Award.
London’s Alex Davis finished tied for 51st with a three day total of 232. He shot rounds of 74, 78 and 80.