South Floridians, led by Palm Beach Gardens’ Andrew Kozan, made their presence well-known in the Junior Honda Golf Classic during the first weekend of January.
Kozan won the boys’ 16-18 division by shooting rounds of 70-72 — 142 to easily win by eight strokes over Sam Dumez of France (74-76 — 150), with another Palm Beach Gardens player, Jalen Ledger, tying for third at 78-73 — 151.
The Junior Honda, held at PGA National Resort & Spa on the Fazio and Champion courses, has been a showcase event for some of the top juniors in South Florida as well as players from across the United States and internationally. There were 18 countries and 12 states represented in the 96-player field.
“The Junior Honda has grown into one of the premier events in the United States,” Honda executive secretary Ken Kennerly said. “It is all about developing and growing the game of golf, and doing it with the juniors of the future.”
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The Honda Junior, in its eighth year, is held in connection with the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, which is six weeks away from Feb. 26 to March 1. The Honda Junior is also part of the reason that the Honda Classic has been declared the PGA Tour’s most fan-friendly stop.
In the past half-decade, under Kennerly’s direction, the Honda Classic field has gone from a routine lineup to having an elite roster of participants (world No.1 Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, etc.) that ranks among the best on the PGA Tour.
In the girls’ 16-18 division of the Junior Honda, Rinko Mitsunaga of Roswell, Georgia, won a playoff over Mary Janiga of Wellington on the first extra hole. Both girls struggled in the final round with 78s.
In the boys’ 14-15 division, Canon Clay of Bowling Green, Kentucky, shot a 3-over-par 75 to grab a three-stroke victory over Miami’s Lynes Behling.
And in the girls’ 14-15 division, Andrea Oon of Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, shot a 77 on the final day to win by five strokes over another South Florida local, Alexa Pano of Lake Worth.
NO PANIC AT BARRY
Barry University, two-time defending national collegiate champion in Division II, is ready to open its post-holiday season when coach Jimmy Stobs and his squad travel to Lakeland for the Matlock Collegiate Classic on Feb. 9-10.
The Bucs haven’t dominated so far this school year but that might be because some players — particularly standout Adam Svensson — have bypassed various school competitions to play national and international events.
Everything is being taken in stride, and the Bucs expect to be at full strength to make a run at a third consecutive national title.
Svensson, who pondered turning pro over the summer but decided to return to school, proved his game is on target at the recent South Beach International Amateur when he finished second to Gabriel Lench in an event that is the 14th-ranked amateur tournament in the world.
THAT’S A FACT, JACK
Steve Ballmer, 56, the former Microsoft CEO who bought the L.A. Clippers for $2 billion, says his favorite job ever was being a caddie. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay quite as much as Microsoft.