England’s Patrick Kelly summed up his experience in the Junior Orange Bowl International Championship in one word: “Surreal.”
After the first round of the golf tournament Thursday, Kelly was taken to the emergency room at Miami Children’s Hospital for nose bleeds, a cold and conjunctivitis (pink eye). After the second round of the tournament Friday, he was still hurting, so he was taken to an urgent-care center, and doctors added an ear infection to his list of ailments.
And what about that golf tournament he’s competing in, one of the more prestigious junior events in the world?
On the course, Kelly is doing just fine. About the only thing not wrong with him is his golf swing.
He has led the event from the start and heads into Sunday’s final round with a seven-stroke advantage. “It’s in my hands,” he said of winning or losing. “I’ll just try to play like I have been.”
After Saturday’s third round, feeling slightly better and able to down a cheeseburger and onion rings, Kelly was hopeful he would not have to see any more physicians.
“I just want to go to my room tonight, get into bed, relax, sleep and watch TV,” said Kelly, who came to the Miami tournament by himself as his family stayed behind in England.
“There was some worry,” he said of his family’s concern for his health, “but then I told my dad how the tournament people were taking such good care of me. The people here have been amazing.”
Kelly, 18, shot a 5-under-par 66 on Saturday for a 14-under 199 total as he upped his lead from five shots to that seven-stroke margin.
All the while, he was swinging away with poor eyesight because of the conjunctivitis. “My left eye was blurry and watery all day,” Kelly said. “To be honest, I was a little worried about whiffing a shot at some point in the round. That would be embarrassing.”
As he did in his two previous rounds, Kelly got off to a quick start, making birdies on Nos. 1 and 2, with the birdie on No. 2 being a chip-in. He gave the birdies back when he bogeyed both the seventh and eighth but quickly responded with a birdie on the ninth as his two playing partners and contenders both double-bogeyed that hole.
In the girls’ competition, Megan Khang, 15, continued to lead but saw her five-stroke advantage after two rounds be reduced to one shot. Khang, from Rockland, Mass., was visibly upset with herself after shooting a 3-over 74 to put her at even-par 213 for the tournament.
“I couldn’t stop the bogey train,” said Khang, who had two birdies and two bogeys in the first four holes before getting her first par on No. 5.
“I was flipping and flopping,” she said. “That sure kills the mood.
“I have to pull myself together. I try to do that every night, but I guess I didn’t do a good job of that Friday night.”
Maria Torres shot a superb 5-under 66 with no bogeys and five birdies for a 214 total that put her into contention at one back. “I can do it [win the tournament] if I play my game,” Torres said.
Junior OB leaders
Boys — 1. Patrick Kelly, England, 66-199 (-14); 2. Jamie Lopez-Rivarola, Argentina, 70-206 (-7); 3. Corey Pereira, Cameron Park, Calif., 74-208 (-5); 4. Ben Follett-Smith, Zimbabwe, 67-209 (-4).
Girls — 1. Megan Khang, Rockland, Mass., 74-213 (Even); 2. Maria Torres, Puerto Rico, 66-214 (+1); 3. Nicole Morales, South Salem, N.Y., 72-216 (+3); 4. Delfina Acosta, Argentina, 73-217 (+4).