Nail-biting finishes capped a weekend of stellar competition near the banks of the Coosa River for the 2019 Rome Junior Classic.
The girls’ division was decided by a two-hole playoff with Monticello, Florida’s Megan Schofill defeating Alyssa Montgomery, of Knoxville, Tennessee, to defend her 2018 Classic title. Both girls came in at 7-under 206.
Meanwhile, Liam Shinn, of Norcross, won the boys’ division to earn his first ever American Junior Golf Association victory. The high school junior shot a bogey-free final round, which included recovering from an errant tee shot on the 18th hole on his way to a 3-under 68 and finishing 8-under 205 for the tournament.
“It means a lot to win this tournament because it shows that I’ve come a long way from last year,” Shinn said. “I’ve worked really hard. Last summer I was shooting some really high scores and I just put in the time with my coach to get better and to get to this point means a lot to me.”
Rome’s Lindsey Cordell finished one shot back for second place after shooting 4-under 67 in the last two rounds on his home course at Coosa Country Club.
The Darlington junior eagled the par-5 second and was atop the leaderboard as he approached 18, only to bogey the final hole. It was his first bogey in 36 holes.
“I was excited and definitely felt it,” Cordell said of coming into the clubhouse on the last few holes. “I was trying to get a couple more birdies and pull away a little bit, but I didn’t do that. Then Liam came up and he finished strong.”
Shinn was in the same group as the leader after Saturday’s two rounds — Tyler Lipscomb, of Carrollton — and watched as the Alabama commit bogeyed three of the first six holes on Sunday and then 13 and 14 on the back nine. He finished tied for third at 6-under 207.
“I could see the guys in my group missing a bunch of putts, missing some fairways, and I knew if I just kept playing my game I would have a good chance to win,” Shinn said.
Shinn’s day nearly came to an unfortunate close when his tee shot on the 18th hole went left and came to a halt behind a cluster of trees. But he was able to hit a low, screaming liner that hit just below the green and tumbled the rest of the way onto it.
His first putt blazed toward the cup and skipped in and out, leading to a short tap-in for par.
“I knew if I could just hit a good hybrid down the center it would be great, but I hit it into the trees,” Shinn said. “I was just glad I had a one-foot putt to finish out my tournament because I knew if I had missed that I would have had a comebacker and I knew a bunch of other people played well today.”
Rome High sophomore Hogan Ingram was the next best local competitor as he shot 2-under 69 and 1-under for the tournament to finish tied for 13th.
Schofill and Montgomery took their battle head-to-head on Sunday after the two high school seniors had finished in a tie for the lead after Saturday’s rounds.
Montgomery held a one-stroke lead heading into the final hole Sunday when a second shot from the left-side rough put her 30-yards short of the green. She went on to bogey the par-4 18th, while Schofill birdied, setting up the playoff.
“I was focused on just one shot at a time. That’s all I could do,” Schofill said of coming down 18. “I had not played 18 great, so I had told myself to just hit a good tee shot and set myself up, and I hit it right where I wanted to and had a great lie. Everything just kind of worked out on that hole.”
The playoff went through the par-3 10th and par-5 11th, with Schofill able to one-putt the second playoff hole to win her fourth AJGA event.
“(Winning this tournament) just shows that I’ve been really working hard and playing solid so hopefully I’ll continue that into the summer,” the future Auburn student said.