by Gary Baines
The 2018 major championship season for the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado started off a lot like the 2017 year ended. And, for that matter, how the 2017 season began.
For the second straight year at the Air Force Academy's Eisenhower Golf Club, the titles in the Colorado Junior PGA Championship went to Davis Bryant of Aurora in the boys ranks and to Hailey Schalk of Erie in the girls division.
Bryant became the first boys player to win consecutive Colorado Junior PGAs since Steven Kupcho in 2010 and '11. And Schalk became the first girl to repeat since Steven's sister, Jennifer Kupcho, did the honors in 2012 and '13.
Overall, Bryant is the fourth boy to win the event twice in a row, while Schalk is the seventh girl. (The two winners are pictured at left.)
More notably, both Bryant and Schalk have won the last four JGAC majors in which they've competed.
The dads of both Bryant and Schalk -- Matt Bryant (Green Valley Ranch Golf Club) and Matt Schalk (Colorado National Golf Club) -- are Colorado PGA general managers, making their kids repeating in the Colorado Junior PGA all the more appropriate.
On Wednesday, after taking an eight-stroke lead into the final round, Davis Bryant prevailed by four shots. And after leading by three after two rounds, Schalk emerged with a six-stroke victory.
In both cases, it continued an early-season trend of routs in the top junior championships in Colorado. Last week in the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior, the boys margin of victory was six and the girls seven. And at last month's girls state high school tournaments, the margins were seven (5A), six (3A) and, in the lone exception, one (4A).
On a windy final day at Eisenhower GC, Bryant shot a 1-over-par 73 to post a 6-under 210 total. The 18-year-old, who will play his college golf at Colorado State University beginning in the fall, made two birdies and three bogeys on Wednesday.
Cal McCoy of Highlands Ranch, a University of Denver-bound golfer, got within three strokes of Bryant with three holes left and checked in at 214 overall after closing with a 69. Jack Castiglia of Lakewood, who recently advanced to the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying, placed third at 221 after a final-round 73.
In the girls division, the 16-year-old Schalk shot her second consecutive 77 to finish at 228. The two-time 3A state high school champion made 13 pars and five bogeys on Wednesday.
Caroline Jordaan of Lakewood, the 2015 Colorado Junior PGA Champion, was runner-up at 234 as she sank a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to edge out 2017 4A state high school champ Lauren Lehigh of Loveland. Jordaan posted a final-round 80 for a 234 total, while Lehigh placed third at 235 after a 79.
In addition to the Colorado Junior PGA Championship titles being on the line on Wednesday, the top two boys finishers and the top two girls landed spots in the national Junior PGA Championship that will be held in Kentucky. The national girls tournament is set for July 9-12 at Kearney Hill Golf Links in Lexington and the boys for July 31-Aug. 3 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.
Bryant and McCoy gained the boys berths and Schalk and Jordaan the girls. Bryant finished 14th in the 2017 national Junior PGA, while McCoy and Schalk missed the cut.
Another Coloradan who has landed a spot in the national Junior PGA is Charlotte Hillary of Cherry Hills Village, who's competing this week in the AJGA Rolex Girls Junior Championship in Park City, Utah.
Wednesday's final round at Eisenhower was interrupted by a 95-minute lightning delay in the mid-afternoon.