IT’S one of the most successful junior golf events played anywhere in the world.
And the Jack Newton International Junior Classic always attracts a sprinkling of class players from overseas as well as the best youngsters in Australia when it is played in the Hunter Valley each year.
The ever-popular Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club was at its best last month with a Victorian and a Queenslander sharing the spoils.
Metropolitan GC’s Jeneath Wong and Dujuan Snyman (Sanctuary Cove) were the heroes after a week of golf that always sends our best young talents home smiling and with some amazing stories to tell.
Wong lead from wire-to-wire to claim the girls’ division by an incredible eight shots, while the boys’ division came down to the last putt with Snyman hanging on to defeat the fast-finishing Jake Riley (Pymble) by a solitary stroke.
Having played a number of Jack Newton Junior Golf (JNJG) major events over the past 12 months, Wong saved her best performance for what might be her last JNJG event before turning 18.
She gave her rivals no chance with a breathtaking display of ball-striking and putting.
The 17-year-old was the only player in the tournament, male or female, to break par on all four days to finish with rounds of 65-69-69-71 for a Cypress Lakes tournament record score of 14-under-par.
Wong edged further and further in front each day, with the final margin being eight shots as NSW State team representative Rachel Lee (Avondale) was gallant in defeat to finish all alone in second at six-under-par.
These two girls were standout performers in the difficult conditions at Cypress, as no other girl broke par for the tournament as they cleared out from the rest of the field.
It was exactly the opposite in the boys’ division as regular JNJG competitor Snyman outlasted his rivals with a par on the final hole to secure victory.
He led by three with just two holes to play before finding trouble on the 17th, as local Newcastle lad Jake Riley made his charge.
Safely in the clubhouse after a final-round 69, Riley could only watch as Snyman made the par he needed to claim the trophy.
Overnight leader Zackary Swanwick (Napier GC, New Zealand) was a shot further back in third place, with fellow Kiwi Robby Turnbull (Remeura GC) and surprise packet Vidur Subramaniam (Ryde-Parramatta) rounding out the top five at one-under-par.
A few kilometres away, the Jack Newton International Sub-Junior Classic, played at the Crowne Plaza, also produced some quality golf.
In nail-biting finishes, Jonathan Hong (Macquarie Links, NSW) and Isabella Leniartek (Mt Lawley, WA) took out their respective events.
In the girls’ division, 13-year-old Leniartek recorded a final round two-under-par 69 to turn a two-shot deficit into a two-shot victory over the courageous Millie Komulainen (Emerald Lakes).
Leniartek recorded four birdies in the final round and played the back nine in two-under-par to claim the biggest victory of her junior career, adding her name to a list of champions of the sub-junior division.
Overnight leader Komulainen bounced back from a triple bogey at the ninth and a quadruple bogey at the 13th with six final-round birdies to finish in second position with Victorian Olive Spitty (Commonwealth) one shot further back.
The boys’ division was even closer, with extra holes needed to split Jonathan Hong and Harry Gourlay (Mollymook).
Starting on the 10th tee in the final round, both Gourlay and Hong at one stage reached six-under-par for the day, before signing for rounds of 67 (-4) and 68 (-3) respectively.
That saw the pair finish the tournament at nine-under-par, with a playoff required to determine the result.
Unfortunately for Gourlay, a three-putt on the first playoff hole saw Hong crowned champion.
Bo Chung (Concord) and Ian Kim (St Michael’s) rounded out the top four, with international visitor Josh Harris (Wakatipu Junior GC, NZ) and Chayse Thorpe (Lynwood) sharing fifth.
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