Friday, November 23, 2007

Bjorn Akesson, Vicky Hurst win major junior titles
Bjorn Akesson of Malmo , Sweden and Vicky Hurst from Melbourne, Florida won the boys' and girls' titles at the Polo Junior Golf Classic - one of the major tournaments on the US junior calendar - at Ginn Reunion Resort in Florida today.
Akesson, beaten in the British boys' final at Royal Aberdeen last year, scored a 3 and 2 victory over Sean Dale from Jacksonville, Florida in the boys' final.
Top seed Vicky Hurst won her third American Junior Golf Association tournament title in a row with a 3 and 2 win over Kimberly Kim from Pahoa, Hawaii.
The 160-player invitation-only field was made up of boys and girls ages 12-18 from 29 US States and 11 foreign countries. Former champions include Stewart Cink (1989), Trevor Immelman (1995), Tiger Woods (1991), Paula Creamer (2002), Grace Park (1994, 1996) and Morgan Pressel (2004).
Akesson woke this morning with a slight cold and fever, but was determined not to let that affect his game. Nerves were also not a problem for the Swede – Akesson’s game plan for his final match was to have fun and be aggressive.
“I just let him play his game, and concentrated on my own game,” Akesson said. “I went for the flags and tried to make birdies. That is the only way you will advance in match play.”
The Swedish teenager - he will be 19 in January is bound for Arizona State University where Banchory's James Byrne is a freshman student. Akesson will enrol next autumn.
Akesson started the Polo boys' final with a birdie and he finished it off with birdies at the 15th and 16th.
“It feels great,” Akesson said. “I am really proud I was able to keep my focus all week long. It is such a long event and I just stayed calm, and I think that made the difference.”
Before Vicky Hurst could advance to the girls' final, she had to complete her semi-final in which she had been two down after 14 holes Stephanie Kono of Honolulu
They were all square after 22 holes when darkness on Thursday evening forced a suspension until this morning. Hurst eventually prevailed at the 28th hole, believed to be the longest match-play tie in American Junior Golf Association history
Hurst, the 2007 Rolex Junior Player of the Year and No.1-ranked player, said she benefited from the morning holes, as she was able to warm up and get used to the golf course before the final match in which she went one up on the first hole with a birdie, and never looked back.
By the 10th, Hurst was three up and she did not relinquish that lead for the rest of the match. The victory completed a dominant year for Hurst, who also captured the McDonald’s Betsy Rawls Girls Championship and The PING Invitational. She becomes the first girl to win three junior majors in a row since Morgan Pressel won four straight in 2004-05. It also marked her final tournament as a junior.
“It’s been a great year for me,” Hurst said. “I’m really proud of myself and what I’ve done.” She still has to make up her mind if she is going to play on the US Futures Tour in 2008 or go to college. If it is the latter, there will be a queue of coaches a mile long wanting to sign her up.
*Two leading English boy prospects - Garrick Porteous and Darren Renwick, winner of the Scottish boys' open Under-16 title at Longniddry in 2005 - have signed Letters of Intent to join the University of Tennessee next autumn.

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