Heat and humidity were the orders of the day on the par-71 golf course at the Houston’s Northgate Country Club, where 180 juniors from 44 states gathered for the 31st annual IIAJC. Candie Kung of Fountain Valley, Calif., won her second consecutive girls division title with a score of 69-70-72-72—283 to finish 14 strokes ahead of runner-up Erica Blasberg of Corona, Calif. Kung joined LPGA professional Cristie Kerr as the only girls who won the tournament in consecutive years. The boys division was a bit tighter, with Matthew Rosenfeld of Plano, Texas, posting a 71-73-72-68—284 to win by five shots. Rosenfeld began the final round one shot off the third-round pace set by runner-up Chris Noel of Tulsa, Okla. Rosenfeld’s final-round 68 equaled the tournament low round set by Emmett Turner of Greenwood, S.C., and Kenneth Lewis of South Dennis, Mass., and provided a five-shot margin over Noel. Mandy Bullard of Warrensburg, Mo., won the girls division of the National Junior Long Drive Championship with a shot of 255 yards, 2 inches. Jonathan Aten of Kearney, Neb., won the boys division with a then-record drive of 343 yards, 1 foot, 3 inches.
2000White Columns Golf Club – Alpharetta, Georgia
Martin Catalioto, Ramsey, N.J., set new 18-, 36-, 54- and 72hole lows for the tournament as his 65-66-68-74-273 beat Joel Kribel’s old 72-hole mark by one stroke (274 in Pleasanton, Calif., 1994). But Nicholas Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., bested Catalioto’s freshly inked 18-hole low with an 8-under-par 64 in the third round, tying the White Columns course record. Thompson’s effort included nine birdies, eight pars and just one bogey on the 6,848yard layout and vaulted him to second place. Catalioto ultimately edged Thompson by two strokes. Whitney Wade of Glasgow, Ky., won the girls division by a three-stroke margin. Both Catalioto and Wade won wire-to-wire, staving off some fierce competition during IIAJC’s final round. Wade (70-75-71-72-288) held off Erica Blasberg in a tight battle for the girls’ crown. Through nine holes on the 5,981-yard girl’s course Wade’s lead ranged from just one to three strokes. Wade did not pull away for good until she birdied 18. Rounding out the top five boys finishers were: Thompson, (74-6764-70-275); Kevin Na of Diamond Bar, Calif. (72-68-70-67-277); James Vargas of Miami, Fla. (72-67-69-71-279); Steven Newren of Salt Lake City, Utah (66-70-73-71-280). In the girl’s field, Blasberg; Sonny Oh of Wilmington, Calif. (81-7473-72-300); Alissa Kuczka of Phoenix, Ariz. (79-71-77-73-300); and Christina Kim of San Jose, Calif. (73-74-79-75-301) completed the top five.
2001University of Michigan Golf Course – Ann Arbor, Michigan
The 2001 Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic was one of the most exciting national finals in years as a final round clash between boys third round co-leaders Daniel Summerhays, 17, Farmington, Utah, and Blaine Peffley, 16, Lebanon, Pa., determined the winner. In the end, a mere six inches separated the two boys. The seesaw battle included five lead changes during the final 18 holes. Blaine Peffley prevailed when he dropped a 10-foot putt for birdie. Moments earlier Daniel Summerhays came up six inches short on a longer putt from the front of the green for birdie. Sunny Oh, 18, of Torrance, Calif., paced the girls’ field with steady play, becoming the fifth girls champion to lead all four rounds. She was challenged throughout by Erica Blasberg, Corona, Calif., who again came up just short in a bid for the girls title, notching her third consecutive second-place finish, and Christine Fernandez, 17, Henderson, Nev., who scored the low girls round in the four-day event and finished third. Fans also were impressed by the smooth and mature play of the event’s youngest-ever participant, Mina Harigae, 11, Monterey, Calif., who finished seventh. The Michigan Association of Insurance Agents hosted the 33rd annual national finals, which were held at the University of Michigan Golf Course in Ann Arbor. Additionally, the Tiger Woods Foundation sponsored the 2001 event. Entrants on behalf of the Foundation included top-five finishers Fernandez (third-girls) and Josh Wooding, 16, Riverside, Calif. (fourth-boys).
2002Northgate Country Club – Houston, Texas
The dreary and rain-plagued 34th annual IIAJC had two particularly bright spots: boys champion Kevin Silva and girls champion Christine Fernandez. The 2002 event was played at Northgate Country Club in Houston. While much of the country endured record summer drought and heat, IIAJC participants were forced to endure moderate temperatures and rain delays—enough to force cancellation of the entire third round. In between showers, fans were treated to outstanding golf from the nation’s top teen golfers on the 5,901-yard, par 71 course. Silva of New Bedford, Mass., took over the lead in the second round with a four-under-par 67, and went on to tie Tiger Woods’ IIAJC boys record for largest winning margin. Silva captured the title by nine strokes with a three-day total of 210 (72-67-71). Beau Glover of Sherwood, Ark., finished second (67-76-76— 219). Michael Wilson (Pacific Grove, Calif.), Josh Persons (Fargo, N.D.), and Justin McKinley (Pekin, Ill.) finished in a three-way tie for third place in the boys’ field. Fernandez of Henderson, Nev., a fourth place finisher in 2001, became the third consecutive wire-to-wire winner in the girls’ competition in 2002. She mastered the course by besting par in her first two rounds with a 70 and a 69 during the first two days. Fernandez entered the final round with a nine-stroke lead and shot an 80 to win with a final score of 219. Angela Won of Irvine, Calif., finished four strokes behind Fernandez, taking runner-up honors with a three-day total of 223 (76-74-73). Mandi McConnell (Grand Blanc, Mich.), Lauren Espinosa (Irvine, Texas), and Mandy Goins (Frankfort, Ky.) rounded out the girls’ top five. Fernandez added a victory in the Patrick Cannon Long Drive Competition, winning that title for the second consecutive year with a 244-yd., 1-foot, 1-inch drive. Chad Horner of Essexville, Mich., belted a 304-yd., 2-foot, 1-inch drive to capture the boys division. The finals of the long drive competition were rained out, thus Horner and Fernandez were named winners by virtue of their practice-round qualifying drives.
2003Olde York Country Club – Columbus, New Jersey
The 35th Annual IIAJC was by Olde York Country Club in Columbus, N.J., and also marked the first time that New Jersey hosted the IIAJC tournament. Despite the difficulties presented by a rain-drenched course, fans were treated to outstanding golf from the nation’s top teen golfers. The 2003 event was also one for the record books and strong competition. Boys champion Travis Toyama broke a record previously held by golfing great and IIAJC alum Tiger Woods, while girls champion Sukjin Lee Wuesthoff added to her growing list of wins. Entering the final round with an eight-stroke cushion, Travis Toyama of Kanehoe, Hawaii took first place with the record 10-stroke win. Tiger Woods set the previous IIAJC record for winning margin when he won by nine strokes in 1992. Daniel Kefale of Woodbridge, Va., finished second (71-73-7271—287). Nicholas Park of Ithaca, N.Y., who made the tournament’s only hole-in-one, came in third place. J.J. Scurich of Corralitos, Calif., and Ryan Speaks of Del City, Okla., both tied for fourth at 291. After previously winning the 2003 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, Wuesthoff continued her winning streak with her two-stroke victory and a final score of 303. Katherine Hoey of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Lawrence tied for second with a four-day total of 305 strokes while Ann Laney of Charlotte, N.C., finished fourth. Wuesthoff also won the Patrick Cannon Long Drive Competition with a 249-yd., 5-inch drive. C.J. Vuytowecz of Pauma Valley, CA, hit a 306-yd., 5-foot drive to capture the boy’s division title.
2004 Dornick Hills Country Club – Ardmore, Oklahoma
It was a storybook ending for Alina Lee of Evans, Ga., as the fourth day of competition at the 36th Annual IIAJC turned into a victory lap for the articulate, talented 14-year-old. In the boys division, Ji Ho Moon, 15, of Ellicott City, Md., fought off a late surge by Allen Koon of Bamberg, S.C., to win by five strokes. In the girls division, Lee bounced back from having missed the 2003 IIAJC finals by a single stroke when she missed a three-foot putt on the final hole. She took a four-stroke lead into the final day and maintained it to edge Michelle Grilli of Lutherville, Md., 300 to 304. Ann Laney of Charlotte, N.C., took third, followed by Corrine Carr of Pinehurst, N.C. and Cheyenne Woods of Phoenix – Tiger Wood’s niece – who finished fifth. Among the boys, Moon hit a crucial eagle on the 13th hole after Koon, who shot an even-par 70 each of the last two days, closed-within a stroke, and ended up with an even-par 280 over four days to Koon’s 285. Vincent Nadeau of Edmond, Okla., took third, followed by Daniel Kefale of Woodbridge, Va., who tied Kevin Tway, also of Edmond and son of PGA golfer Bob Tway, for fourth. The Patrick Cannon Long Drive Competition was canceled on the rain-soaked third day of the tournament. Jeremy Davis of Fort Smith, Ark., and Dawn Shockley of Estates Park, Colo., who won the preliminary round competitions with drives of 287 and 240 yards respectively, were declared the long-drive champions.
2005Kampen Course, Purdue University – West Lafayette, Indiana
The 37th Annual Trusted Choice® Big “I” Junior Classic was held in Indiana, but it had a decidedly southwestern feel to it. It wasn’t just the high temperatures that reminded the 162 players and numerous volunteers of Phoenix, but the fact that both of the 2005 champions hailed from Arizona’s capital city. And one of the winners brought with her another great storyline, as 15-year-old Cheyenne Woods triumphed at a tournament twice won by another famous Woods – a man she knows as “Uncle Tiger.” After a top-five finish in 2004, Cheyenne Woods came in a year older, a year more poised—and dominant, as she seized the lead after the first day and never relinquished it, ultimately cruising to a seven-stroke victory after leading by as many as 10. One observer, noting her dominance of the field, called it a “Tiger-like” performance. Cheyenne Woods’s fellow Arizonan, 16-year-old Cameron Edens, had a little more challenging of a time in winning the boys’ division title, but he ultimately won by a stroke over Dodge Kemmer, 17, of Wichita, Kan. The boys’ division was particularly competitive, as a total of three strokes separated the top four finishers. For Woods, victory at the 2005 Classic showed how far she had come in a year’s time. In the 36th Annual Classic, held in 2004 at the Dornick Hills Country Club in Ardmore, Okla., she had also taken the lead after the first day, only to struggle mightily on the second day and fall out of contention. A strong third day hadn’t been enough to get her back on top, and her on-again, off-again performance at Ardmore eventually landed her in fifth. But 2005 would be different, as it became clear when Woods expanded a three-stroke lead after the first round to a commanding eight strokes on the second day. Edens also took the lead after the second round, but he never had any room to relax as he took home his first national tournament title. After shooting a 6-under-par 66 on the second day to move in front, he fell behind by a stroke after the third day, when Kemmer shot a 5-under-par 67 to move up from an eleventh-place tie at the halfway point. Jesse Schutte, 17, of Florence, Ore., also shot well throughout the tournament, as did Matt Savage, 18, of Louisville, Ky., to set up an amazing photo finish. Final scores were Edens 284 (4-under-par), Kemmer 285 (-3), Schutte 286 (-2) and Savage 287 (-1). Edens also won the boys’ division at the Patrick Cannon Memorial Long Drive Championship with a 343-yard drive. Britney Choy, 16, of Wahiawa, Hawaii, won the girls’ division with a 292-yard drive.
2006Odessa CC – Odessa, TX
The storylines were numerous at the 38th Annual Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic, but none were bigger than the ones produced by Phoenix’s Cameron Edens.Edens, 17, made history when he became the first player in 25 years to win back-to-back Boys’ Division championships.the soft-spoken Edens joined the ranks of professional golfers Tiger Woods and Billy Andrade as one of the few participants to win this tournament twice and only the second Boys’ Division player to win back-to-back titles.Andrade previously had been the only back-to-back winner among the boys.In 980 and 1981, and Cristie Kerr, who also went on to a successful professional career, was the only Girls’ Division champion to win repeat titles (1994 and 1995).Enroute to snagging the rare double-dip, Edens also set another record by shooting 271 over the four-day, 72 hole event, the new all-time low score.His 17-under-par performance beat the old tournament record, a 15-under-par 273 set by Martin Catalioto at the 32nd Annual Classic in 2000.
In the Girls’ Division, Kristen Schelling, 16, a second place finisher on the tie-breaker last year, emerged from the competitive field as the champion. She wrested the title from defending champion Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, also of Phoenix.“I tried to play this whole tournament one shot at a time,” says Schelling.“It’s a long tournament with a field of great competitors.I knew it wouldn’t be enough to shoot one good round – I needed to be consistent and play solidly the entire time.”Shelling did just that, shooting a 1-under par 71 to tie for the first day lead, and ending up with a 2-over par 290 for the tournament.Like her Arizona compatriot Edens, she also won by four strokes. In the 20th annual Patrick Cannon Memorial Long Drive Contest, Nicholas Pokara, of Ajawan, MA, won the Boys Division with a drive of 347 yards. Katy Nugent of Wichita, KA., won the Girls Division as her drive traveled 287 yards.
2007Crane Creek CC - Boise, ID
Boise native Madeleine Sheils finished with a tournament total of 9-over-par 293 to claim a two-shot victory in the 2007 Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic. In the Boys Division, Tommy Gibson of Pilot Mountain, N.C. shot his third-consecutive round of 1-under-par 70 to finish with a four-round total of 281.Sheils struggled most of the day but was able to make a crucial birdie on the 14th hole and par three of the final four holes to claim a two-shot victory. Sheils, who was playing in her third Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic, was overcome with emotion after her victory. “To win this tournament means so much,” Sheils said. “I’ve come a long way in my career. This event was my first national junior golf event two years ago and to win it means so much.Lindy La Bauve of Scottsdale, Ariz., finished second after shooting a four-round total of 295. 2006 Champion Kristen Schelling of Mesa, Ariz., finished five shots behind Sheils in third place, with a four-day total of 298. Gibson played steady golf during his final round, and made three birdies on the back nine, including birdies on the 16th and 17th holes. Gibson shot his third-consecutive round of 1-under-par 70 to finish with a four-day total of 3-under-par 281. Gibson credited his play in the tournament to his preparation before the event.“I practiced so hard leading up to this event,” Gibson said. “It’s feel great to be playing my best at the end of my junior career and I hope to carry it over to the start of my college career.Andrew Perez of Oxnard, Calif., and Logan Harrell of Huntersville, N.C., finished in a tie for second. Each of them finished six shots behind the leader, with a tournament total of 287. John Ladow finished in fourth place, shooting the best score of the final round, a 3-under-par 68. Stefan Brewer of Charlotte, N.C., and Christopher Morris of Maysville, Ky., finished in fifth place, carding four-round totals of 290.
In the 21st-annual Patrick Cannon Memorial Long Drive Contest, Daniel Crawford of St. Joseph, Mo., won the Boys Division with a record drive of 348 yards. Marina Martinez of Modesto, Calif., won the Girls Division as her drive traveled a record 325 yards.
2008 Country Club of North Carolina, Pinehurst, NC
Logan McCracken of Oklahoma City, Okla., fired a 2-under-par 70 in the final round of the Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic Thursday to claim first place in the Boys Division. One of the youngest players in the Girls Division, 14-year-old Ginger Howard of Bradenton, Fla., was not intimidated by the more experienced competition and carded a 3-over-par 291 to claim the Girls Division title by five strokes.
Conducted by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, the Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic is the nation’s largest junior stroke-play golf tournament and is being held at the Dogwood Course of the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst. The event features 168 players from 42 states and the field consists of 108 boys and 60 girls ages 12-18. The Boys Division is playing the 72-par Dogwood course at 7,144, while the Girls Division is playing at 6,145 yards.
McCracken notched his first Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic victory after leading the field all four rounds. McCracken began the round with bogeys on Nos. 6 and 8, which were equalized by his two birdies on Nos. 2 and 5. At the turn McCracken was at even-par, but picked up the momentum and carded birdies on Nos. 12 and 14 and finished the day 2-under-par 70 and 8-under-par 280 for the tournament.
In second place, Austin Cook of Jonesboro, Ark., came from five strokes behind the leader and finished with a 4-under-par 68 for the round. Cook recorded an eagle on No.14, which gave him momentum to finish his round with two birdies on Nos. 17 and 18 good for 7-under-par 281 for the tournament. Blake Brown of Scotsdale, Ariz., finished third in the Boys Division at 4-under-par 284. In fourth was Zac Blair of Ogden, Utah, with a total score of 3-under-par 285. Tied for fifth place was Austin Moix of Conway, Ark., and Andrew Perez of Oxnard, Calif., both at even-par 288.
In the Girls Division, with two first-place FCWT finishes in her career, Howard won her first Trusted Choice Big “I” Junior Classic. Howard was able to keep her lead throughout the day and accredited her steady round to playing it safe. The 14-year-old finished the tournament with a 3-over-par 291 and felt she had not played as well as her previous rounds, but was happy with her success. Finishing in second place was Bethany Buchner of Loveland, Colo., who entered the final round five shots behind the leader, and posted a hole-in-one on No. 16 and finished at 8-over par 296. In third place was Alexandra Stewart of Peoria, Ariz., at 9-over-par 297.