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Bogey-free round helps Morgan High standout Tanner Telford earn medalist honors at USGA Junior Amateur Qualifier

Tanner Telford -5 (67) turned in a bogey-free round as he qualified for the 73rd U.S. Junior Amateur Championship to be held at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, N.C. Other qualifiers were Lance Smith -4 (68), Maddox Vincent -3 (69) and Kihei Akina -2 (70).

Having never played at Stonebridge Golf Club before, Telford impressed many as much of the field battled a heavy afternoon wind. There were a few key holes that allowed Telford to finish the round as low medalist.

“I made a nice save on my 10th hole. After hitting the ball wild off the tee, I was able to chip in for par,” said Telford, “And then on my 17th hole, it was a downwind par five, so I hit a big drive. At that point, I was between wedges. Since it was downwind, I went with the lower wedge so I could spin it. I hit it pretty good and then hit what was about a 30-foot putt to make eagle.”

While Telford was comfortable in the clubhouse, Kihei Akina had to outlast Parker Bunn -2 (70) in an exciting four-hole playoff for the last qualifying spot. Both players went up and down on the first hole to save par and extend the playoff. On the next hole, Akina and Bunn were both on in three on a par five. Bunn made a 20-foot putt for birdie to put the pressure on Akina. However, Akina delivered with a 15-foot putt of his own to move the match forward.

On the third hole, both Akina and Bunn saw their balls caught in the wind and pushed into a greenside bunker. Akina narrowly missed his par putt after chipping on and it appeared as though Bunn may end the playoff. However, he also missed his par putt and that pushed the playoff to a fourth hole.

Bunn sat on the left side of the fairway for his approach shot on the deciding hole while Akina was left of him in the rough. Akina hit his approach to the front right side of the green, setting himself up for a long birdie putt. After that, Bunn sent his approach shot long into the rough and appeared to have a difficult lie. Bunn’s chip went through the green to the fringe on the other side of the hole. This allowed Akina to play his putt more conservative as he hit it to three feet. Bunn then narrowly missed his putt for the par save and Akina was able to make a short putt to win the playoff and send himself to the U.S. Junior Amateur Tournament.

To see full results for the USGA Junior Amateur Qualifier, please CLICK HERE.

By Colin Clawson