A win at the Optimist International Tournament of Champions for GGGA student Camilo Mexsen appeared to be a foregone conclusion the way the final round began.
Mexsen, of Mexico and student in the Full-Time Junior Program at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, was plowing his way through the early goings of the final round Sunday, striking for birdies at Nos. 1, 3 and 5 at ChampionsGate Golf Club — 3 under through five holes on the International Course.
Then No. 6 happened.
Adversity struck in a big way.
At the longish par-4 6th, playing at 442 yards, Mexsen made a quadruple bogey eight. That one hole could have been devastating, taking him from 3 under to 1 over par in matter of 15 minutes.
But actually, the hole had almost no effect, almost motivating him more to continue where he left off just one hole earlier.
Over the final 12 holes, Mexsen went on to play at 4 under par. Making the feat all that more impressive was that the stretch included no bogeys as he finished the event at 5-under 139 (70-69) for a two shot win.
Playing in the final group, Mexsen started the day one off the lead at 2 under, trailing by one to co-leaders Bryce Burke and Claudio Correa.
In the two groups ahead of Mexsen, GGGA students Manuel Torres, of Venezuela, and Luis Garza, of Mexico, were also vying for the title. Torres opened with an even-par 72 and Garza opened with a 1-over 73.
Both would go on to finish inside the top 10 with solid performances Sunday, giving GGGA students four top 10s in the event. Torres tied for sixth at +2 with GGGA student Tiger Lee, of Hong Kong, who battled his way back for a top finish with a 69, while Garza tied for 10th at +4.
Over the past several years, GGGA students have dominated the event, which gathers the best junior golfers from all across world, and have won the last five consecutive years with six titles overall at the Optimist International Tournament of Champions. Past GGGA champions include: Karen Arimoto (2012), Luis Garza (2012), Johan Werge (2011), Giovanna Maymon (2010) and Jason Roets (2009).
Mexsen’s win at Optimist was his fifth since joining the Full-Time Junior Program at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, adding to quite a run he’s been on the last month.
Prior to the Optimist International Tournament of Champions, Mexsen won the IMG Eagle Creek after firing an 11-under 134 two day total and was in the hunt at the Golfweek Junior Invitational with a share of the lead going into the final round and went on to take fifth.
Mexsen wasn’t the only GGGA student who won on the weekend though.
At the HJGT at Harmony Preserve, GGGA student Mai Dechathipat took the win in the Girls Division after firing back-to-back 68s to finish 8-under 136 to win by 12 shots, while fellow GGGA student Evaristo Rubio took second at 3-under 141 after firing a 69 in the final round in the Boys Division.
The Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, located near Orlando, FL in Howey in the Hills, is the world’s premier junior golf academy. In addition to the junior golf program, GGGA also features summer golf camps, winter golf camps and programs, training and golf lessons for amateurs, professionals and adults.
The Academy is committed to excellence in every facet of golf, fitness, personal development and academics, evident through exclusive relationships with Montverde Academy, an acclaimed private college preparatory school, and the American Junior Golf Association.
Gary Gilchrist, founder of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, has been recognized as a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher 2013-2014 and as a Golf Digest Top 50 Teacher in America 2011-2012 and 2013-2014. Gilchrist teaches many of the games top juniors and pros at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, of which include: Morgan Hoffmann, Shanshan Feng, Sandra Gal and many more.