Thirteen local golfers are among the fields for the Arkansas Junior Amateur Championship, which will be played Thursday and Friday at Texarkana Country Club.
Maumelle’s Josie Roberson, who leads the Arkansas State Golf Association’s Junior Girls Player of the Year standings after winning last year, is one of the favorites in the girls tournament. She finished second to Brooke Matthews last year, six strokes back, with 74-79—153.
“I am very excited for the Junior Am and can’t wait to compete,” Roberson said. “I haven’t seen the course yet, but I’ve seen how beautiful it is from pictures and heard that it can be a little tricky. I hope to put together two good consistent rounds of golf, and to come out with a win would be fantastic.”
Cabot’s Connor Gaunt, second in the Junior Boys rankings, leads the local field for the boys tournament. He finished seventh in the Player of the Year race last year. He did not play in the 2016 Junior Am.
Other locals in the 23-player girls field include Mackenzie Lee of North LIttle Rock, Alexis Montgomery of Maumelle, Hannah Bakalekos of Sherwood, Allie Weiner of Maumelle and Lauren Loeb of Maumelle.
Other area golfers in the 66-player boys field are Blaine Calhoun of Ward, Hyunje Lee of North LIttle Rock, Nathan Martin of Sherwood, Hunter Walker of Sherwood, Caleb Miller of Cabot and Hagen Sanchez of Maumelle.
Maumelle’s Taylor Loeb continued a big spring with a fourth-place finish in the ASGA Women’s Amateur last week at Hot Springs Country Club.
Loeb, a Mount St. Mary graduate who recently finished her freshman year playing for Henderson State, shot 81-79-78—238 to finish seven strokes behind her Reddie teammate, Sarah Wright of Fayetteville (82-76-73—231); Nora Phillips of Hot Springs (79-77-77—233) and Peyton Weaver, the defending champion from Benton (78-81-78—237). Julie Oxendine of Dover, who was inducted into the ASGA’s Hall of Fame last year, finished fifth at 82-78-80—240.
“I started out kind of rough and had a few things I needed to improve on,” Loeb said. “Each day got better, and that was something to really stay positive about. I was a little nervous going in, and I think I lost my putter, so to speak, the first couple of days.
“But I found it the last day of the tournament and posted a nice third-day round. I’ve been so fortunate, and I want to thank my family, coaches and friends for all their support and encouragement. It kept me motivated.”
Her final round included four birdies.
“If I didn’t have three doubles, my score definitely could have been under par,” she said.
Loeb was named Great American Conference Freshman of the Year and earned honorable mention all-conference honors. She had seven top-25 finishes for the Reddies and averaged 79.65 for 20 rounds played heading into the post-season. She tied for fifth in the GAC Championships to earn all-tournament honors as the Reddies finished second to three-time champion Arkansas Tech.
Henderson went on to finish ninth at the NCAA Division II Women’s Golf National Championships in Findlay, Ohio — two places higher than Tech.
“I am excited to play in more events this summer and get better for my fall season at Henderson,” Loeb said.
Also upcoming on the ASGA schedule:
Parent-Child, Maumelle CC, June 19; Bubba Smart Junior Stroke, Pine Bluff Country Club, June 20-21; Trusted Choice Big “I” State, Ridge Pointe CC, Jonesboro, June 22-23; The Course at Eagle Mountain Men’s Stroke, June 24-25; Bruce Jenkins Memorial Junior Stroke, Rebsamen Park GC, June 26-28; Burns Park Junior Stroke, June 29-30.