Season to Remember
Highlights galore for 2017 Colorado junior golf; award winners accounced for JGAC season
By: Gary Baines
It was the year of the "Bryant Slam"; that a Coloradan finally won the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior; that a Coloradan qualified for the Drive Chip & Putt finals at Augusta National; that two children of Colorado PGA professionals won Colorado Junior PGA titles -- and JGAC Player of the Year honors to boot; that a Coloradan placed fourth at Pebble Beach while teaming with a PGA Tour Champions player; and that a boy and a girl won every JGAC major in which they competed -- along with state high school titles.
And that's just for starters.
Those are some of the major highlights of the year in Colorado junior golf and in the second season of the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado. The JGAC, founded by the CGA and Colorado PGA with the support of the CWGA, held its season-ending awards banquet on Sunday night at Cherry Hills Country Club after the conclusion of the JGAC Tour Championship.
Let's expand a bit on the aforementioned 2017 junior highlights for Colorado:
-- Bryant Slam: No player has yet completed the JGAC Slam by winning all four Colorado junior major titles in the same year, but trophies from all four of the 2017 major tournaments will find themselves in the same house in Aurora. That's because Davis and Emma Bryant (pictured) kept it all in the family in completing the Bryant Slam. Davis Bryant won the three JGAC majors in which he competed, but missed the third leg -- the Colorado Junior Match Play -- as it was held at the same time as the national Junior PGA Championship, where he finished 14th. But younger sister Emma pulled off the improbable by winning the girls title at the Junior Match Play. Then Davis finished things off for the family by earning the JGAC Tour Championship on Sunday at Cherry Hills.
-- AJGA Colorado Win by a Coloradan: No Coloradan won either the boys or girls title in the first two years of the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior, but the drought ended in 2017 as Hailey Schalk (left) of Erie rallied to edge fellow Coloradan Charlotte Hillary for the championship. The AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior features one of the toughest -- if not the toughest -- junior golf fields in the state each year as many out-of-staters compete.
-- Augusta-Bound: In the first four years of the Drive Chip & Putt Championship, only three Coloradans had qualified for the national finals that are nationally televised the Sunday before the Masters at Augusta National. All three -- Luke Trujillo, Arielle Keating and Caitlyn Chin -- competed in Georgia in 2016. But Kaden Ford of Colorado Springs made it four last month when he won a regional qualifier at Southern Hills in Tulsa for the right to compete in the Boys 14-15 national finals in Augusta on April 1, 2018. Ford advanced through Local, Sub-Regional and Regional Qualifying to earn a finals berth at the site of the Masters.
-- Kids of Colorado PGA Pros Rise to Top: Back in June at Eisenhower Golf Club at the Air Force Academy, it seemed altogether appropriate that Davis Bryant of Aurora and Hailey Schalk of Erie would win the Colorado Junior PGA Championship. After all, both are the children of Colorado PGA professionals -- Matt Bryant, the general manager at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, and Matt Schalk, the GM at Colorado National Golf Club in Erie, respectively.
-- Nothing But Wins in Majors: Following up on the item above, Bryant and Schalk won the boys and girls JGAC Player of the Year honors, respectively, after seasons in which they prevailed at every major in which they competed. We detailed earlier how Bryant went 3-for-3 in claiming titles at the Colorado Junior PGA, Colorado Junior Amateur and JGAC Tour Championhip. And Schalk came out on top in the two majors in which she played, the Colorado Junior PGA and the JGAC Tour Championship, after having won the 2016 Colorado Junior Match Play. They're the only two players to have won three junior majors since the JGAC debuted for the 2016 season. And, for good measure, both Bryant and Schalk claimed state high school titles in 2017, with Schalk being the first freshman since 2002 to win a Colorado girls state high school championship.
-- Weekend to Remember at Pebble: Last month, Denver resident Mateo Manzanares not only had the pleasure of playing one of the best courses in the world -- Pebble Beach Golf Links -- but to do it while competing in the pro-junior portion of a PGA Tour Champions event, the PURE Insurance Championship. The First Tee of Denver representative not only played, but a couple of his shots were aired by the Golf Channel and -- best of all -- he and Champions player Scott McCarron were in the running for the pro-junior title, finishing fourth out of more than 80 teams.
The list of 2017 Colorado junior golf highlights could go on and on, but let's cut to the chase: Here are some of the award winners that were named at Sunday night's JGAC awards banquet at Cherry Hills:
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
-- Hailey Schalk of Erie: Notched JGAC major victories at the Colorado Junior PGA and JGAC Tour Championship, along with wins at the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior, 3A state high school championship, and a JGAC Tour event. The 15-year-old also finished 14th individually while competing for Colorado at the Girls Junior America's Cup.
-- Davis Bryant of Aurora: Won three JGAC majors -- the Colorado Junior PGA, Colorado Junior Amateur and JGAC Tour Championship. The 17-year-old also captured titles at two other JGAC Tour events and the 5A state high school meet. The Colorado State University-bound golfer finished ninth individually while playing for Colorado at the Junior America's Cup and 14th at the national Boys Junior PGA Championship. He also advanced to the match play round of 64 at his second U.S. Junior Amateur.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYERS
-- Blake Schneiter of Grand Junction: Scoring average went from 87.5 in 2016 JGAC events to 80.2 this year.
-- Timbre Shehee of Mead: Scoring average dropped from 96.3 in 2016 JGAC tournaments to 85.4 this year.
14-18 POINTS CHASE CHAMPIONS
Boys: Mario Dino of Denver
Girls: Katelyn Lehigh of Loveland
11-13 POINTS CHASE CHAMPIONS
Boys: Maxwell Lange of Golden
Girls: Kaylee Chen of Highlands Ranch
10 & UNDER POINTS CHASE CHAMPIONS
Boys: Andre Dumonteil of Centennial
Girls: Ashleigh Wilson of Highlands Ranch
TOUR ALL-STAR TEAM
Barrett Jones of Eagle
Julia Baroth of Denver
Cal McCoy of Highlands Ranch
Charlotte Hillary of Englewood
Jackson Solem of Longmont
Caroline Jordaan of Denver
Kyle Pearson of Highlands Ranch
Lauren Lehigh of Loveland
Davis Bryant of Aurora
Hailey Schalk of Erie
14-18 SERIES ALL-STAR TEAM
Tyler Tyson of Arvada
Brooke Kramer of Aurora
Beam Boonta of Centennial
Maxine Choi of Colorado Springs
Zachary Snow of Denver
Merielle Gojo of Cherry Hills Village
Wes Weber of Johnstown
Alyssa Chin of Greenwood Village
Mario Dino of Denver
Katelyn Lehigh of Loveland
11-13 ALL-STAR TEAM
Blake Sullivan of Castle Pines
Gisella Lagrimas of Castle Rock
Jake Chesler of Firestone
Hadley Ashton of Erie
Hunter Swanson of Denver
Abigail Aeschleman of Highlands Ranch
Traejan Andrews of Windsor
Sofia Choi of Littleton
Maxwell Lange of Golden
Kaylee Chen of Highlands Ranch
10 & UNDER ALL-STAR TEAM
Tyler Long of Evergreen
Addison Hines of Arvada
Kaden Devenport of Windsor
Taylor Wilson of Highlands Ranch
Landon Houska of Fort Collins
Maddie Makino of Parker
Frank Lockwood of Meridian in Englewood
Caitlyn Chin of Greenwood Village
Andre Dumonteil of Centennial
Ashleigh Wilson of Highlands Ranch