With some 20 players within just four shots of the lead, winning the Golfweek Junior Invitational appeared to be anybody’s game.
By time the leaders hit the back nine in the final round Sunday, playing in the final group, GGGA student Luis Garza made a statement to leave little wonder on who would emerge from the pack.
A 4-under back nine took Garza, of Mexico and a 2016 graduate, to 6 under par as he distanced himself by three. Birdies at Nos. 10 and 15 were nice, but Garza made his mark with an eagle at the par 5 16th at Shingle Creek Golf Club.
“I hit two amazing shots there,” said, who is a student in the Full-Time Junior Program. “But I didn’t want to get overconfident because in this sport, you never know until the last shot. So I kept trusting my game plan and let the result come on the last two holes.”
Finishing with pars on Nos. 17 and 18, Garza, took the win at 6-under 138, his sixth win since joining GGGA.
“I was feeling confident with my game, I was hitting the ball really good,” Garza said. “I just wanted to trust my decisions, go hole by hole and just play my round.”
The top of the leaderboard was an all GGGA affair after the first round at Shingle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, FL.
Garza was tied with fellow GGGA student Camilo Mexsen, who also hails from Mexico. The two sat right at the top in a three-way tie for the lead at 2-under 70 while fellow GGGA student Si Thu Ye Yint, of Burma, was right on their heels just three back tied for sixth.
Mexsen was right in it with Garza right until the end, posting a 1-over 73 to take fifth at 1-under 143. Yint was too as he fired a 3-under 69 for a tie for third at 2-under 142.
Garza is no stranger to getting himself in the mix in big events either. He’s won three previous invitational events in his time at GGGA.
Last fall, Garza captured the Optimist Tournament of Champions a few weeks after taking third at the AJGA Junior All-Star Invitational, of which he was tied for the lead during the closing stretch on the back nine. Previous to that, Garza collected the FCWT Tour Championship and the CJGA Spring Break Invitational and last spring finished second at the AJGA Junior All-Star at Chateau Elan.
Garza wasn’t the only GGGA student having their way with the back nine Sunday at Shingle Creek though.
In the Girls Division, GGGA student Yuhka Kajiki also made her mark. Kajiki, of Japan, and who is also a student in the Full-Time Junior Program, notched three birdies on the back side for a 4-under 68 to jump to a third place finish at 1-over 145.
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.