ST. FRANCISVILLE — The two finishing holes at The Bluffs golf resort are as tough as any on the course, and Thursday they made the difference in both boys and girls competitions at the AJGA St. Francisville Area Foundation Junior tournament.
Both divisions featured multiple challengers, but Jake Carter of Aiken, South Carolina, and Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand held them off to earn their titles. Each winner secured their title after their main challenger faltered on the final two holes.
Carter shot 74 to complete three rounds at 1-under par 215. Henry Suman of Houston had the day’s best round, 69, and was two shots back at 217. Robert Quinilty of Cypress, Texas, was third at 219, and defending champion Zach Stacy of Houston tied for fourth at 221 along with Price Butcher of New Orleans.
Anannarukarn birdied the ninth hole and shot par on the back side for a 74. She finished at 8-under 224, three strokes better than Houston’s Elizabeth Doykan, who also shot 74.
St. Gabriel’s Julia Johnson shot 79 and finished sixth.
“There was a little pressure on the first nine because I didn’t play well,” Anannarukarn said. “I tried to focus on my game, and it turned out well on the back nine.”
Henry Suman, a 16-year-old from Houston, briefly took the lead on the back nine. He was 5 under on his round and 1 under overall when he reached the par-3 17th. But he pulled his tee shot into a bunker leading for a bogey.
At the par-5 18th, his approach found the wrong level of the green, and he three-putted for another bogey.
“I was playing well early, and it was a poor finish. That’s all right,” Suman said.
For Carter, a high school senior who has committed to Florida State, the win comes after he finished in the top five of the St. Francisville tournament the previous two years.
He began the day with a three-stroke lead over Stacy but eventually lost the lead after a bogey at 10 dropped him to even par overall.
Carter then birdied 12 and 14 to get back under par, and weathered a bogey at 17 to claim the title.
“I figured out one of the guys had gained a one-shot lead on me,” Carter said. “I stepped it up a little, and made a couple of birdies. I bogeyed 17, but it worked out.”
Doykan, who has already signed to play collegiately at Brown, played in the same group as Anannarukarn, and was tied with her through 16 holes. Doykan hit the 17th, but three-putted for a bogey.
At 18, a bad break changed the hole from being a birdie opportunity into a disastrous double bogey. Doykan’s tee shot struck a golf cart, and it got worse from there.
“On 18 I was feeling very relaxed, no pressure,” Doykan said. “I just pulled my drive a little bit, and it happened to hit the guy’s cart. Then it was just bad breaks that followed from there.”
Johnson was tied for the lead with Anannarukarn, Doykan and Maddie White at 9 over through eight holes. On the back nine, she played the next six holes at 5 over, and dropped out of contention.
Butcher, a senior at Isidore Newman, ran into trouble at the par-4 third, where his tee shot caromed off the cart path into a water hazard leading to double bogey. He made three birdies on the back nine to salvage a 77, but it was a rain delay on Tuesday that had him thinking back.
“(Wednesday), I was 5 under for the tournament through five holes,” Butcher said. “After the rain delay it really got to me. I made double bogey on two of the last three holes, and it was hard to come back after that.”