On Sunday afternoon at Breton Bay Golf and Country Club in Leonardtown, youth golfers on the Junior Tour powered by Under Armour convened for their last chance to earn a medal and divisional honors. Two of the three winners were also the overall age group champions, one of whom had clinched the title before the day began.
In the 14- to 18-year-old age group, which has seen a different winner in each of the previous five one-day events, went to the most consistent player in the group. Bowie resident Kirsten Vanderhorst, a rising junior at Bishop McNamara High School in Prince George’s County, fired the low round on Sunday with a 41 and was the top points earner during the tour for this group (510).
“This whole summer was a lot of fun,” Vanderhorst said. “I still need to work on being more consistent. On one hole today I had a 7, then the next hole I birdied. You just have to learn to put those bad holes behind you and move on.”
Vanderhorst capped her summer with a victory and was followed by Connor Gallagher (44), a rising senior at Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C., Trevor Simpson (45), a rising sophomore at La Plata High School, David Wright (47), a rising junior at Huntingtown High School, and Shelby Herbert (49), a rising freshman at La Plata who had won the one-day event at Chesapeake Hills Golf Course in Lusby two weeks earlier.
“I struggled off the tees,” said Herbert, who finished the tour with 425 total points and plans to play in a two-day event at the University of Maryland today and Thursday. “I missed a lot of fairways. My short game was pretty good.”
While the 14-18 age bracket had been contentious throughout the summer, the 10-13 group had crowned a champion long before Sunday’s outing.
Owen Newberry (590), a Crofton Middle School student in Anne Arundel County, put the finishing touches on his age division title by firing the low round on Sunday with a 37, five strokes better than Jason Dacanay and Connor Willbur. Newberry won five of the six one-day events on the Junior Tour.
Likewise, in the 6-9 age bracket, Ryan Ritchie (Leonardtown Elementary School) had dominated the previous tour events and had secured the title as overall points champion for the summer heading into the final event. On Sunday it was Ashton Bryant of Plum Point Elementary School in Huntingtown (37) who was clearly the low medalist, while Luke Gladfelter of Beach Elementary School in Chesapeake Beach (41) took second, followed by Ritchie (42) and David Vallandingham (43).
Even with the coronavirus pandemic limiting sporting events across the land, Southern Maryland Junior Tour director Sean Bannon was overly pleased with both the quality and quantity of golfers that participated all summer. Bannon, recently named as the head golf coach at Calvert High School for 2020, commended the players and the local courses for the tour’s success.
“Considering the whole coronavirus pandemic canceled a lot of things this summer, I never imagined that we would have a full list of 73 golfers sign up,” Bannon said. “Most of them have been able to make it every week. The participation has been outstanding. We’ve had a lot of really good scores. I’m thrilled with the way the whole tour went this summer and the golf courses were gracious to host all of them.”
The top 12 juniors in each age group (6-9, 10-13 and 14-18) will be placed on an all-star team and advance to play in the national championship Aug. 7 to 9 at Walt Disney World. Individual and team national champions will be awarded.