Clemens Claims Hanmi Bank Junior Open
SANTA CLARITA – Mario Clemens of Beverly Hills birdied two of the last three holes to jump ahead of the two-day leader claiming his first AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) title at the Hanmi Bank Junior Open last week.
Alison Lee of Valencia carded a 4-under-par 68 to bring her tournament total to 8-under-par 208 and win the Girls Division at Robinson Ranch Golf Club’s Valley Course.
Clemens scattered four birdies on the day, including a 60-footer on No. 16. He realized that he was in contention for the win after tallying birdies on Nos. 16 and 17.
“I was just trying to match play with John [Young Kim],” Clemens said. “The last few tournaments have taught me to be aggressive, and I took advantage where I could.”
Clemens shot a three-round total (72-68-71) total of 5-under-par 211. Colt Knedler, of Beverly Hills, tied for 62nd place with a three-day total of (86-80-73) 23-over-par 239.
John Young Kim of Los Alamitos finished in second with a tournament total of 4-under-par 212. Max Homa of Valencia, and Todd Baek of Auckland, New Zealand, both carded 3-under-par 213s, putting them tied for third. Matthew Siporin of Tarzana and Daniel Lee of Valencia tied for fifth at 1-under-par 215.
Lee, 13, was excited to win her first AJGA open event after putting up four birdies to card a 4-under-par 68. She credited her solid round to not making any errors.
“I learned my lesson at Mission Hills this year when I 3-putted too many times and lost my lead,” Lee said. “I knew that I just had to stay focused and cut down on mistakes. This was a real confidence booster.”
Marika Liu, originally from Beverly Hills, who now trains in Bradenton, Fla., shot even-par 72 in her final round for a tournament total of 2-under-par 214, giving her a second-place finish. Esther Lee of Los Alamitos finished in third after playing 54 holes at even-par 216.
The largest association of its kind, the AJGA has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 foreign countries.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.