POTOMAC FALLS, Va. – Both Tyler McDaniel of Manchester, Ky., and Amy Lee of Brea, Calif., captured titles in thrilling fashion Friday at the 38th Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Hotel Fitness.
Under clear skies at Trump National Golf Club-Washington, D.C., both McDaniel and Lee made Championship-clinching putts on the 72nd hole to capture the Jack Nicklaus Trophy in the boys’ division and the Patty Berg Trophy in the girls’ division, respectively.
The 72-hole Championship featured a 54-hole cut on Thursday to the low 30 boys and 30 girls, including ties, with 35 boys making the cut and 32 girls making the cut.
In the boys’ division, McDaniel, who trailed 54-hole leader Jacob Solomon of Dublin, Calif., by just one stroke heading into the final round, shot a 2-under-par 69 for a 10-under-par 274 total to win the Championship by one stroke over Sam Burns of Shreveport, La. Burns closed with a 67 to finish alone in second with a 275 total.
Solomon and Brad Dalke of Hobart, Okla., who held the lead after each of the first two rounds, finished tied for third at 276.
In the girls’ division, Lee, who was three shots back with three holes to go in the final round, made a dramatic 15-foot par putt on the 18th hole to shoot 69 and capture the national championship by a single stroke. Abbey Carlson of Lake Mary, Fla., the 54-hole co-leader, finished second at 280.
Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass., and Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas, the other 54-hole co-leader, tied for third at 281.
In the boys’ division, McDaniel did not get off to the start he envisioned.
“I got off to a slow start with eight pars and a bogey on the front side,” said McDaniel. “I knew I would need to play well down the stretch to give myself a chance.”
And play well he did. He birdied three of the first four holes on the back nine before coming to the par-4 16th, where an errant drive was lost in the fescue on the right side of the fairway. That forced McDaniel to return to the tee with a one-stroke penalty, and he ultimately made double bogey on the hole.
He trailed Sam Burns, who was playing two boys’ groups ahead of him, by one stroke with two holes to play. But McDaniel closed the same way he did in the third round, with a birdie on both the par-5 17th and the par-4 18th.
His approach at the 18th landed just four feet from the hole and the 17-year-old, who has verbally committed to the University of Kentucky, sank the critical putt, fist-pumping as it rolled into the cup.
“After 16 I knew I had to go birdie, birdie and I did, which was huge,” said McDaniel. “I am pretty long off the tee so that helped. I like the look of 18. I can hit 3-wood off the tee and that club is always money. It gives me a good yardage into the green and I caught the approach shot perfect.”
McDaniel, who finished eighth in the 2012 Junior PGA Championship, was overwhelmed by the victory.
“This means a lot to me, after not quite getting the job done last year in this event,” said McDaniel. “This is my first big time, national win and it feels so good right now.”
In the girls’ division, Lee produced similar heroics. In the third round, she tied the female competitive course record with a 67 to put herself in position to win.
She had two birdies (Nos. 1 and 7) and two bogeys (Nos. 8 and 9) on the front nine.
“I started with a birdie today and never really played bad at all,” said Lee. “I caught a few bad breaks in the middle of the round but I knew I still had a chance.”
Carlson, who shot 71 in the final round, led by as many as four strokes, but struggled with bogeys on her final three holes. That gave Lee the opportunity to win with a par on the final hole.
“I’m excited and happy right now,” said Lee. “This is the biggest accomplishment I have had yet in golf and I feel honored to win this Championship. I’m a fighter and I knew I could do it.”