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Kyra Cox Qualifies for US Junior
June 22nd 2016 - HELLERTOWN, Pa. — Four qualifying hopefuls from all corners of the country – and the world – earned their way to the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship on Wednesday at Silver Creek Country Club (par 72, 6,084 yards). |
Chun, of Cedar Park, Texas, bettered the rest of the field by two strokes. After a disappointing three-putt bogey on No. 8 (par 3, 148 yards), she answered back by placing a 63-yard wedge to seven feet on the par 5, 492-yard 9th and sank it for birdie. On the following hole, No. 10 (par 4, 375 yards), she found the greenside fringe with an iron and faced a daunting 40-foot attempt. Chun rolled that one in for her second red number of the round. The rest of Chun’s round, which included only two bogey blemishes, was smooth sailing.
Coming off the 18th (par 4, 342 yards), Chun didn’t think too highly of her round. She wasn’t even sure she had done enough to claim one of the qualifying spots.
“Yesterday, during my practice round, I had a ton of birdie chances. But today, I wasn’t as good,” said Chun, who says she fired a 4-under 68 Tuesday at Silver Creek. “But when I saw my mom coming off the last hole, she said to me, ‘Hey, Youngin, I think you’re going to win [medalist honors]!’ I was pretty shocked.”
On a current East Coast tour of competitive tournaments, the 16-year-old chose the Hellertown, Pa. track as her qualifying site because “it fit right in her schedule." Chun, who is homeschooled and classifies with the Class of 2018, has lofty goals of attempting to qualify for the LPGA Tour’s Q-School in the near future.
Chun has competed in the Girls’ Junior twice before – first in 2012, and a second time in 2013, where she fell in the first round of match play. She feels primed to make a deeper run in her third appearance.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure in match play because it’s just always fun," she said. "Every time I play, I just have to worry about beating my [competitor], not what my total score is. I’ve always loved it because that kind of [format] fits my game.”
Also claiming a qualifying spot was Plata, of Bucaramanga, Colombia. The 15-year-old shot a 2-over-par 74, with a crucial birdie coming on Silver Creek’s finishing hole (par 4, 342 yards).
“We were kind of doubting the second shot club,” Plata said. “We were between a pitching wedge and a 9-iron. I hit a 9-iron kind of soft and it was a good shot and landed within one yard of the flag.”
In order to qualify, Plata traveled across the state from Oakmont Country Club, where she was in attendance for her first Major Championship at the 116th U.S Open.
“I just got to see what you see on TV,” said Plata, a rising-junior at Colegio La Quinta del Puente. “It was awesome.”
Plata, who will compete in a tournament in Scotland in the coming weeks, qualified for the U.S Girls Junior Amateur last year, missing the cut by two strokes.
Wang, of San Marino, Calif., fired a 3-over-par 75 to earn a qualifying spot as well. A rising-junior at San Marino High School, she accumulated three birdies on her card, coming on Nos. 3 (par 4, 379 yards), 4 (par 4, 385 yards) and 10 (par 4, 375 yards).
The 16-year-old ended up at Silver Creek due to her hectic tournament schedule on the AJGA Tour.
“A lot of those tournaments are on the East Coast,” Wang said. “I just came from the Rolex Girls Junior Championship in New York. Tomorrow, I’m going down to Georgia to play in the Rolex Tournament of Champions. I really didn’t feel like going back to [Los Angeles] for a couple of days.”
Wang also competed on another GAP track recently. She got to play in her first LPGA Tour event at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer on May 30-June 5 at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. Wang qualified for the event after winning the 2015 Junior PGA Championship last August. She finished tied for 31st in her LPGA debut in result of a 5-under total for the tournament.
“I was really nervous,” Wang said. “I think the first day, I couldn’t tee up the ball. Later, I got better. There were a lot of people.”
Wang will return to the Championship proper for the fourth straight year. She lost in the Round of 32 in 2013, and in the first round in 2014.
Cox, 16, of South Salem, N.Y., started her round by rattling off nine straight pars. She finished with a 3-over-round of 75, propelled by a 25-foot birdie on the par-4, 349-yard 12th, and grabbed one of the last two qualifying spots.
“I tried [to qualify] last year, but missed out in a playoff,” said Cox, a rising junior at John Jay High School. “It means a lot to make it this year because I was so close last time. I really tried this year – I really fought for it.”
She's no stranger to big-stage competition. In 2015, at the age of 15, Cox won the New York State Women’s Amateur Championship at the Tuscarora Golf Club. This April, on the Sunday before The Masters, Cox competed in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club. She finished tied for third in the Girls’ 14-15 division.
“It was amazing being able to go down to Augusta, the greatest place to watch golf. Just the whole atmosphere was just unbelievable,” said Cox. “And it was nice to take home some hardware.”
The U.S. Girls' Junior will be held July 18-23 at Ridgewood Country Club (Composite Course) in Paramus, N.J.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 151 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.