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At Wolfdancer Golf Club in Lost Pines, stakes were high for junior golfers ranging from ages 10-18. Exemptions into the Optimist International Golf Tournament were on the line; a tournament that will be contested at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida next month. For Zachary Slayton, Blake Moreno, Nathan Marion, Nicholas Logis, Hallie Kuhns, Caroline Dasch, and Ashleeen Kaur, their low scores not only separated themselves from their peers but has earned them the right to advance and test their skills against some of the best junior golfers in the world.
Zachary Slayton claimed first place in the Boys 16-18 Division with a score of 144 (E), besting his next closest challenger by nine shots. The good news for Mason Richter, who finished in second with 153 (+9) is that his finish earns him a berth in the Optimist International as well.
Blake Moreno got the victory in the Boys 14-15 Division with his score of 152 (+8). He will be joined in Florida by two of his peers, Mark Whooley and Brian Cornegys, each of whom fell to Moreno in a playoff and finished second and third, respectively.
The Boys 12-13 Division title belongs to Nathan Marion, who won in a playoff against Eston Duff and Braeden Hoyt. Each player finished with a total score of 152 (+8), but it was Marion emerging on the second playoff hole as the division’s champion, with Duff finishing in second place and Hoyt in third place. Because Duff finished in second place, he will be joining Marion with an invitation to PGA National, while Hoyt will be an alternate.
Only the winner of the Boys 10-11 Division would earn a berth to move on to Florida and that turned out to be Nicholas Logis who posted a score of 160 (+7).
Hallie Kuhns recorded a score of 156 (+12) to win the Girls 15-18 Division. Accompanying her in the trip to the Optimist International will be the runner-up, Annika Saidleman, who shot a total score of 158 (+14).
Caroline Dasch was victorious in the Girls 13-14 Division after her two-day score of 174 (+30). Her status in the Optimist International will depend on the results of another Optimist Qualifier taking place on Thursday at Golf Trails of The Woodlands-Panther Trail.
Rounding out the group of golfers that will be advancing to the Optimist International is the Girls 10-12 victor, Ashleen Kaur, who finished at 157 (+13), good enough for a margin of victory of two shots.
As previously mentioned, another Optimist Qualifier will take place on Thursday at Golf Trails of The Woodlands-Panther Trail.. In the meantime, congratulations to all of those who will be advancing to PGA National to represent Southern Texas next month. The Boys 10-11, Boys 12-13, and Girls 10-12 tournaments will be conducted July 17-22. For Boys 14-15 and Girls 13-14, their tournaments will be held July 22-27. Rounding out the Optimist Internationals will be the Boys 16-18 and Girls 15-18 events on July 27-August 1.