Golf

Megan Khang, Ivan Ramirez Valendia win Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic titles

Experience counts — or maybe it doesn’t.

For the winners of the 33rd annual Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic at Trump National Doral on Tuesday, it just depends on which one you talk to.

Megan Khang, 17, the girls’ 16-18 winner, certainly had experience working for her.

“I’ve been coming here to play this event since I was 7, so it has been about 10 years playing in the tournament,” she said.

Then there is 16-18 boys’ winner Ivan Ramirez Valendia, also 17, who was making his initial appearance at the Doral-Publix.

“I played really well,” Valendia said. “Since it was my first year playing in it, I wanted to just be in the top three. Guess I did better. So far, this is my biggest tournament victory ever.”

The two winners took two distinctly different paths to their titles.

Khang, a senior in high school from Massachusetts, started the day nine strokes ahead and shot a 72 to win by 14. There was no drama on the 18th hole.

Nevertheless, Khang said the proper thing — possibly too proper.

“You have to go into the day like it’s all even,” she said. “It’s a clean slate.”

That’s because she wiped the slate completely clean of any competition.

During the tournament, Khang was receiving texts and calls from her friends back in Massachusetts, where it was snowing. Meanwhile, she was striding the fairways in 70-something-degree temperatures.

“I had to rub it in to my friends,” she said.

Valendia, from Colombia, had a little more excitement in his round, starting the day tied for the lead before winning by five strokes.

“I like this tournament,” he said. “I like everything about it.

“To get to see and meet all the players, and all the sportsmanship that is involved.”

Both players intend to compete in the Junior Orange Bowl International Championship that begins Saturday.

▪ Winning the Doral-Publix 13-14 divisions were Esteban Misssura of Ecuador in the boys’ division, shooting a 77 for a three-stroke victory, and in the girls’ division, Candice Mahe of France, also shooting a 77 for a five-shot triumph.

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