Local golfers finished third in their respective divisions in last week’s Arkansas Junior Amateur Championship at Texarkana Country Club.
Connor Gaunt fired 73-75—148, two strokes behind Ethan Eppinette of Texarkana (72-74—146) in the boys tournament. Josie Roberson of Maumelle shot 77-77—154, three strokes behind Conway’s Casey Ott (74-77—151) in the girls division..
Gaunt’s showing improved on his Junior Am debut two years ago, when he shot 75-75—150 to finish 15th at Cypress Creek.
“Texarkana is a great golf course and was in perfect condition,” he said. “I struck the ball really well. I played the par-3s 7-under for three days. The first day I hit the ball well and putted good. The second day I hit the ball well but didn’t putt so great.”
Gaunt trailed Eppinette by one stroke after the first round.
“To have a chance to be in the final group the last day was really awesome,” he said. “That really gets my confidence going and makes me think I can compete with anybody out there.”
Other local results in the boys tournament included Hyunje Lee of North Little Rock, tied for 15th, 78-77—155; Caleb Miller of Cabot, tied for 23rd, 83-74—157; Blaine Calhoun of Ward and Hunter Walker of Sherwood, tied for 26th, 77-81—158 and 83-75—158, respectively; Hagen Sanchez of Maumelle, 82-83—165; and Nathan Martin of Sherwood, 57th, 91-95—186.
Three other locals were among the top eight in the girls tournament. Mackenzie Lee of North Little Rock tied for fourth at 75-80—155. Allie Weiner of Maumelle was sixth at 77-81—158. Hannah Bakalekos of Sherwood tied for eighth at 81-83—164. Maumelle’s Lauren Loeb finished 18th at 94-94—188.
Loeb wins consolation flight
Maumelle’s Taylor Loeb, who will be a sophomore for the Henderson Reddies in the fall, won the first flight in the Women’s Southern Golf Association Amateur last week at Grenada Golf Course in Hot Springs Village.
Loeb lost her first-round championship flight to Lana Hodge of Monroe, La. (who plays for LSU) in 19 holes to drop into first flight. There she beat Brielle Ward of Frisco, Texas (Northern Illinois), 4 and 3; Lauren Cox of Orange, Texas (North Texas) 2 and 1; and Amy Zhang of Lake Mary, Fla., in 19 holes.
She said she was nervous — only one other player was from a Division II school — but expected to play well after “I finally got my game back.”
She said the first flight final was probably her toughest match.
“I was hitting it good but missing a few greens, and I had to chip up and make par to stay all square,” she said.
The match was even through eight holes.
“I made some really clutch putts, like 10- to 15-footers, which made it a little tougher for me, but I made it work,” Loeb said. “On the 19th hole, I made a 20-foot birdie putt. My short game is what I’ve been working on, and I can tell it has paid off.
“Last week really did boost my confidence.”
Upcoming on the ASGA schedule
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; Fourth of July Classic, War Memorial GC, July 1-2, 4; Chuck Morton Memorial Junior Stroke, Big Creek CC, July 6-7; Tom Millikin Memorial Junior Stroke, Harrison CC, July 8-9; Pine Bluff CC Stroke Play, July 8-9.