Shelton and Jutanugarn claim titles at 37th Junior PGA Championship

Robby Shelton and Ariya Jutanugarn at the Junior PGA Championship
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Both boys' winner Robby Shelton and girls' winner Ariya Jutanugarn earned three-shot victories on Friday in the Junior PGA Championship.
By
Randy Stutzman
The PGA of America

Series: PGA Feature

Published: Friday, August 03, 2012 | 6:06 p.m.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand became the first Girls' Division champion since In-Bee Park of South Korea to claim back-to-back titles, while Robby Shelton of Wilmer, Ala., claimed the Boys' Division title Friday at the 37th Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Heritage Food Service Group, played for a third consecutive year at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.

After cruising to victory by 10 strokes in 2011, Jutanugarn birdied her last four holes to finish with a 5-under-par 67 and 274 total, three strokes better than Samantha Wagner of Windermere, Fla. Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., finished third at 279. Shelton used a final-round 70 for a 13-under-par 275 total and defeated Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Calif., by three strokes. Adam Wood of Zionsville, Ind., finished third at 270.

2012 JUNIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

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The 16-year-old Jutanugarn, who won the Canadian Women's Amateur just a week ago, was actually trailing Lee by two strokes after Jutanugarn bogeyed the par-4 13th. But Lee, who was two groups ahead and on the par-4 16th, was unable to capitalize. The 2010 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team member bogeyed the hole and Jutanugarn began her birdie run on 15.

"This year was very different and the girls were all playing so well," said Jutanugarn. "I was looking at all the scoreboards and I knew I needed to make birdies at the end to win."

Jutanugarn credits her improved driving in the final round for helping her win her second consecutive Patty Berg Trophy.

"I was not driving the ball well all week until today. My driver actually helped me," said Jutanugarn. "I am so proud of how I played. Last year I wanted to play good, but this year I had to win."

Wagner, who closed with a 70 for an 11-under-par 277 total, was disappointed in her overall finish, but excited about making the 2012 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team. The winner and runner-up in both the boys' and girls' divisions earn an automatic spot on the team, provided they are U.S. citizens and a member of the 2013 high school graduating class, or younger.

"I knew after I bogeyed 15 that I needed a few birdies coming in to keep up with Ariya. But I only had one birdie and she birdied the last four so that sealed it," said Wagner, a 2015 high school graduate who has already verbally committed to the University of Florida. "But I played well all week and now I get to play in the Junior Ryder Cup. I am so excited about that opportunity."

In the Boys' Division, Shelton entered the final round with a two-stroke lead. The Alabama native, who broke the Sycamore Hills course record in the third round with a 64, opened the final round with birdies on his first two holes.

"I was able to pick up where I left off yesterday to start the round," said Shelton, 16. "I didn't really struggle until my bogey at the 11th."

But Champ was able to close the gap, and the two players were tied going into the par-5 15th.

"It got tight on the back nine and Cameron just had a bad hole," said Shelton. "I am lucky to have won this Championship. This is the biggest win of my career and it feels so amazing to be holding this trophy."

Champ, who was 3 under par through 14 holes in his final round, made a triple bogey and was unable to recover.

"I went in the water on 15 and just had a bad hole. It kind of sealed the deal for me," said Champ, who won the 2012 Bill Dickey Invitational. "I need to go back and learn from this and figure out what I need to do better the next time. It's a learning experience."

Both Champ and Shelton earned spots on the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team, which will face a European squad of junior golfers at the 8th Junior Ryder, Sept. 24-25, at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club's South Course.

"I have never been on a team like that before and just to have a spot on that team is great," said Shelton. "It will be a huge honor and something I will never forget."

The teams will also compete in a "Friendship Bowl," a nine-hole exhibition that will take place on Sept. 26, at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club, host site for the 39th Ryder Cup.

The 72-hole Junior PGA Championship featured a 54-hole cut to the low 30 boys and 30 girls, including ties. Thirty boys made the cut at 7-over-par 223 and 31 girls advanced from a cut at 225.

This year's field included past winners of the Championship, PGA Junior Series event champions, PGA Section winners, many of Polo Golf and Golfweek's top-ranked players, and selected national junior tournament winners.

golf Channel will present a one-hour highlight show of the 37th Junior PGA Championship, with the first airing on Monday, Sept. 17, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Begun in 1976, the Junior PGA Championship has traditionally produced unforgettable golf performances and brings together the best junior golfers from around the country to compete for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy in the Boys' division and the Patty Berg Trophy in the Girls' division.