Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn successfully defended her title Friday in the Junior PGA Championship, and Robby Shelton of Wilmer, Ala., won the boys’ division.
The 16-year-old Jutanugarn, a 10-stroke winner last year, birdied the last four holes at Sycamore Hills for a 5-under 67 and 14-under 274 total, three strokes better than 15-year-old Samantha Wagner of Windermere, Fla.
”This year was very different and the girls were all playing so well,” said Jutanugarn, the Canadian’s Women’s Amateur winner last week ”I was looking at all the scoreboards and I knew I needed to make birdies at the end to win. … I was not driving the ball well all week until today. My driver actually helped me. I am so proud of how I played. Last year I wanted to play good, but this year I had to win.”
She’s the first player to win in consecutive years since In-Bee Park in 2001-02.
The top two players in each division earned spots on the US Junior Ryder Cup team.
Wagner finished with a 70.
”I knew after I bogeyed 15 that I needed a few birdies coming in to keep up with Ariya. But I only had one birdie and she birdied the last four, so that sealed it,” Wagner said. ”But I played well all week and now I get to play in the Junior Ryder Cup. I am so excited about that opportunity.”
The 16-year-old Shelton closed with a 70 to finish at 13 under. He had a course-record 64 on Thursday.
Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Calif., shot a 72 to finish second, three strokes back.
Shelton birdied the first two holes.
”I was able to pick up where I left off yesterday to start the round,” Shelton said. ”I didn’t really struggle until my bogey at the 11th.”
He was tied with four holes left, but Champ had a triple bogey on the par-5 15th.
”It got tight on the back nine and Cameron just had a bad hole,” Shelton said. ”I am lucky to have won this championship. This is the biggest win of my career and it feels so amazing to be holding this trophy.”
Champ drove into the water on No. 15.
”Just had a bad hole. It kind of sealed the deal for me,” Champ said. ”I need to go back and learn from this and figure out what I need to do better the next time. It’s a learning experience.”
The Junior Ryder Cup is Sept. 24-25 at Olympia Fields in Illinois.
”I have never been on a team like that before and just to have a spot on that team is great,” Shelton said. ”It will be a huge honor and something I will never forget.”