The AJGA and Otter Creek Golf Course tried to give it a go Thursday morning, but ultimately, the rain won out on the third and final day of the Circle K Junior Championship hosted by Otter Creek.
With parts of the West (back) Nine under water from rain Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, that side was closed, competitors were just going to play the North (front) Nine on Thursday. But before anyone was finished with their nine and while the girls leaders were just teeing off and the boys leaders yet to begin, play was suspended.
Since parts of the front nine were starting to flood, tournament organizers decided to call it a tournament and use 36-hole scores.
“This is the Midwest, and we have to deal with rain daily and we hope we don’t get caught by it,” tournament chairman John Fairbanks said. “But at the end of the day, we have contingencies in place with golf where we can go back to yesterday’s scores or we can get them on the golf course later in the day when it starts to slow down. But today was one of those days we just didn’t see any break in the rain for the rest of the day.”
Camden Smith of Windermere, Florida, was declared the boys winner after shooting back-to-back 3-under-par 69s Tuesday and Wednesday. He won by six shots over a quartet of golfers who finished at even-par 144.
“It was a little different for me,” Smith said. “The greens were a little slower than I was used to the past two weeks. It took a little bit of getting used to, but I was pretty happy. I left some shots out there, for sure. I think I could have played a little better, but overall, I’m pretty happy with how I played.”
Smith just started playing golf two years ago, which was around the time he moved from Louisville to Florida. His father, Brent Smith, is from Charlestown.
This was the first win for Smith, who will be a junior at Windermere Prep just outside Orlando.
“This was a very special event for me,” he said. “My dad played here in 1989, and I’m not sure how he finished, but my one goal was to come here and beat him. A month from now, probably looking back on it, I would have really wanted to play today, but for my sake today, I was a little nervous, so I’m pretty happy I got to finish it off where I did. It was very special, it was a really fun week and I’m really excited for what’s coming.”
The girls competition, meanwhile, had a little more drama. Charlene Chung of Hong Kong and Maggie Ni of Cypress, Texas, were tied at 2-under 142 through 36 holes, so they needed a playoff to decide the champion.
Since hole No. 8, a par 3, was on a little higher and dryer ground than the rest of the course, Chung and Ni headed there. On their fourth time playing that hole, Chung knocked in a birdie putt to take the title.
Chung, 16, has come to America the past few summers to play in AJGA tournaments and USGA qualifiers. This was her first victory.
“It feels amazing, honestly,” Chung said. “I have never placed any higher than top four, so it’s kind of mind blowing. Although we couldn’t play a full 18 holes today, I’m still really thankful and grateful that we could have this playoff. I started golf at the age of 4 1/2 and started competing at 7, and to be here right now and winning it just crazy to me.”
Two local golfers played in the boys tournament. Luke Schneider, who will be a senior at Columbus North, shot 78-80 and finished 41st at 14-over 158. Tyler Wilks, who will be a junior at North, went 81-81 and tied for 44th at 18-over 162.