HUDSON — Over this years, IMG Academy of Bradenton, Florida, has sent waves of golfers to the Hudson Junior Invitational. This year was no different, with nine IMG players swinging at The Country Club of Hudson.
This time, however, IMG players swept the titles at the Hudson Junior — including a record-setting performance by IMG’s Deborah Chang.
A native of Seoul, South Korea, Chang put up three straight rounds of 70 to finish with a score of 210 (6 under par) and win the girls title by eight strokes Thursday at the CCOH. She broke the girls invitational 54-hole scoring record of 213, previously set by three-time invitational champion Beth Bauer.
The boys tournament was much closer, but IMG player Kyo Morishita won the boys title with a score of 213 (3 under par), as he survived a late challenge from several players.
Chang took command of the girls tournament by shooting rounds of 70 both Tuesday and Wednesday to take a six stroke lead over Manhua Chen of Howey in the Hills, Florida, heading into the final round.
"My short irons and pitch shots worked really well this week," Chang said. "My putting, when I focused on it, went well."
Chen was able to narrow the gap a bit early Thursday, as Chang struggled out of the gate.
"I birdied the fifth hole but then had [three] straight bogeys, so I was thinking, ‘Uh oh, this isn’t going well,’" Chang said.
However, Chang would rebound with four birdies on the back nine, including one on the 18th hole. Chen shot an even par 72 Thursday to finish as runner-up with a score of 218 (2 over, 73-73-72).
Morishita, Chang and the other top three finishers each received their trophies from former British Open champion Ben Curtis. The Kent State graduate is now affliated with CCOH through the Ben Curtis Golf Academy. Curtis noted he himself played the Hudson Junior when he was 17.
Hudson’s Jenn David turned out to the best finish of any local player, male or female, despite enduring a tough day Thursday.
David had her worst round of the tournament at 79, as she hit six bogeys and a double bogey at the 17th hole when she hit into the water.
David was able to birdie the 18th hole, but she was clearly not happy with her round. She ended up tied for sixth place with Canton’s Madison Reesnyer at 228 (12 over, 76-73-79).
"I was hoping for a top three [finish]," David said. "I really didn’t have my swing or my short game today, but I tried to grind through it."
Sagamore Hills resident Gwyneth Bush finished with 281 (65 over, 95-99-87)
Morishita wins tight race for boys title
Morishita finished the tournament with an even-par round of 72, as he had two birdies and two bogeys in his final 18 holes. He started the day two shots behind Anthony Ricaurte of Columbus.
IMG golf coach Caroline Westurp said Morishita had ben having a great summer in his first year with the academy.
"He has played really great this summer. We’ve been playing four straight weeks and he’s won at every tournament he’s played," Westrup said. "The competition here is much stronger. We have great hopes for him."
Ricaurte had a wild final round. After starting the day at 5-under, Ricaurte shot a round of 76 (4 over), as he had three bogeys and two double bogeys on the day. He finished tied for third with Braden Smith of Sterling, both of them finished at 215 (1 under)
While he couldn’t retain his lead, Ricaurte hit the shot of the tournament Thursday at the par-3 11th hole. Using a 50-degree wedge, Ricaurte aced the 125-yard hole, getting the first hole-in-one of his career.
Drew Salyers of Howard had the low round of the day, shooting a 3-under 69, which allowed him to finish as the boys runner up at 214 (2 under, 70-75-69).
Among the local boys, the top local finisher was Twinsburg native and rising Walsh Jesuit junior Colton Levey, who shot a 73 Thursday to finish at 227 (11 over, 79-75-73) in his first Hudson Junior.
"It was good. The course was in really good shape, despite all of the rain." Levey said. "It kind of made it easier to attack because the greens were so soft."
Stow-Munroe Falls teammates Kyle Buzaki and Dan Page had differing fortunes on Thursday. Buzaki shot his best round of 73 to finish at 230 (14 over, 82-75-73) for the tournament, while Page struggled to a round 85 to finish at 244 (79-80-95).
Both players said their efforts will help them this fall, as both players return to the Bulldogs.
Tallmadge rising sophomore Darin Hudak shot a round of 79 Thursday to finish at 241 (25 over, 81-81-79). Hudak said his performance was "quite a bit better" from his first Hudson Junior last year, but that he was "not really" happy with his golfing.
"I just want to play the best I can and let the scores handle themselves," Hudak said. "The rain made the greens a bit slower."
Rising Hudson sophomore Ben Basta had the best perfromance of Hudson’s three male entrants. Basta finished with a score of 240 (24 over, 83-80-77). Burke Villenauve finished with a score of 257 (41 over, 89-80-88), while Erik Block finisheed with a 258 (42 over, 85-90-83).