HOT SPRINGS, Ar. — It was an amazing performance by diminutive Florida native Miles Russell (5-5, 110) in the 47th Junior PGA Championships at Hot Springs Country Club.
The 14-year-old Russell conquered the sweltering 100-degree weather and a field of 156 golfers from nearly every state and five other countries with rounds of 67, 67, 65, and 67 for a 72-hole total of 18-under 266. Jackson Byrd of Saint Simons Island, Ga., won a playoff for the runnerup spot.
Both Russell and Byrd earned spots on the United States Junior Ryder Cup team with their 1-2 finish. That competition will be held later this month in Rome, Italy.
Russell cruises with eagle on final hole
“I just tried to stick to my game plan,” said Russell, who had 19 birdies and three eagles on HSCC’s two courses. “In the heat the ball was flying forever. It was hot, way too hot for me.”
Russell liked the length of both courses since most of his competition was bigger in physical stature. He was asked if he had played golf in Hot Springs prior to the tournament.
“I’ve never been in Arkansas before,” he fired back. Russell will defend his title next summer at
Russell finished the event in spectacular fashion with an eagle on his 72nd hole. He had started slow with two bogeys on the front side, but rallied with four birdies and his eagle.
Will Gordon ties for 24th place
Hot Springs’ 17-year-old Will Gordon shot 65 in the second round, tying Russell for the boy’s low round with a 65. Unfortunately, the Lakeside junior finished with 76 and 74 for a 286 total. Adding to Gordon’s frustration were the 18 birdies he scored during the four rounds.
Gianna Clemente of Estero, Fl., posted 68 on the final day to win the girl’s division despite a double bogey on her first hole at the Arlington course. Clemente shot 64 in the first round on the Park course, following with rounds of 70 and 73. Her 275 total was three shots better than second place.
Three girls tied for second at 278. Kylie Chong of Torrance, Ca., won a playoff, and trip to Rome with Clemente.
PGA officials and players praised the hard work of Golf Course Superintendent Trey Rutledge, General Manager/Director of Golf Barry Howard, Golf Professional Philip Holley, and the HSCC members and volunteers.