Golfers prep for Cleveland Junior Open

Avon/Avon Lake

By Joe Ostrica

The American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) is returning to Red Tail Golf Club in Avon for the Cleveland Junior Open for the fourth consecutive year June 28 to July 1. The 54-hole stroke play event will feature 120 of the nation’s top junior golfers, with 53 hailing from Ohio. In all, the event will feature juniors from 15 states, Canada, Colombia and Guatemala.

Four area golfers, including Avon residents Kyle Kmiecik and Beau Titsworth and Avon Lake natives Collin Holmes and Clayton Sharb, will compete in the tournament.

Kyle Kmiecik, of Avon, will compete in the AJGA Junior Open at Red Tail Golf Club for the fourth consecutive year next week. Press photo - Joe Ostrica

Kyle Kmiecik, of Avon, will compete in the AJGA Junior Open at Red Tail Golf Club for the fourth consecutive year next week. Press photo - Joe Ostrica

Kmiecik and Beau Titsworth, both of St. Ignatius High School, are looking to improve on their top-10 finishes from the 2009 event. Kmiecik was a 2008 honorable mention Rolex Junior All-American and has six top-10 finishes in national junior golf competition. The recent high school graduate has signed a national letter of intent with the University of Mississippi and will play in the event for his fourth consecutive year.

Titsworth, a junior at St. Ignatius, is making his third straight trip to the tournament and has two top-20 finishes in AJGA events.

The local players will face some stiff competition from Boo Timko of Girard, who is the boys highest ranked player in the Polo Golf Rankings. Timko tied for ninth with Kmiecik in 2009 and has five top-10 finishes in national junior golf events.

In the girls division, Irene Jung of Jacksonville, Fla., returns as the highest-ranked player in the field and will try to top her sixth-place finish from 2009. Jung has earned four top-10 finishes in national junior golf competition. With nine top-10 finishes in addition to one AJGA title, Brittany Mai of Poway, Calif., looks to add to her resume at her first AJGA event in the Cleveland area.

Samantha Swinehart of Lancaster, Ohio, will complete as the only girl who signed a national letter of intent. She holds eight top-10 finishes in national junior golf competition and will play for South Carolina in the fall.

Kelli Holloway, who is in her first year as AJGA tournament director, said she is very excited for the upcoming event.

“Red Tail has been a wonderful host in the past, and the AJGA is happy to return for another successful year,” she said. “In addition to the great golf that will be played, the committee at Red Tail has helped to put together many fun activities for the players and their families.

“I look forward to visiting the Cleveland community and I encourage everyone to come out and support junior golf.”

A shotgun practice round will be held Monday at 1:30 p.m. First-round play will begin Tuesday with first and second-round tee times running from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. off the first tee at Red Tail Golf Club. The field will be cut to the low 40 percent and ties following the second round. The final round will take place July 1, with tee times running off the No. 1 tee from 7 to 11 a.m. An awards ceremony will immediately follow the final round. Guests are welcome to attend and admission is free.

Prior to the event, an 18-hole K12 Qualifier will be held Sunday at Red Tail Golf Club. K12 Qualifiers give juniors an opportunity to play their way in to coinciding AJGA Open tournaments or build status for entry into a future event. The K12 Qualifier Series offers opportunities for AJGA juniors at approximately 50 AJGA Open events.

The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries.

To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.

Several AJGA alumni include some of the biggest names in golf, having risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.

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