Kenzie Wright, First Time Participant, Wins Prestigious Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championship
Tempe, Ariz. – Kenzie Wright, 18, a senior at Spring Creek Academy from McKinney, Texas has won the 2015 Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle competing for the first time in the acclaimed event. Wright came from behind with a 67 in the final round (the low round of this year's tournament) to finish with an 8-under 208 clinching the title.
Wright, who is committed to play at Southern Methodist University, came into the round trailing leader Haley Moore by 5 strokes. Kenzie's 7 birdies and two bogeys gave her the win. She felt her game overall was strong and consistent.
"I got on a roll and kept the roll going. I felt I had a good chance at winning when I made the turn at the 9th hole. I got into a groove and stepped up and kept pushing," said Wright.
She chose to enter the Silver Belle because it is such a big tournament and she has heard great things about it. She loves playing golf in Arizona, particularly at ASU Karsten so she felt the tournament was the perfect fit for her.
"I started playing when I was 7. We lived on a golf course and I saw everyone driving by and playing and I thought I would like to do that! I started taking lessons in April and entered my first tournament in June. I did pretty well, I came in second," laughed Wright.
Kenzie's 2015 tournament wins include the AJGA Payne Stewart Junior Championship in Hollister Missouri, the Taylor Made Junior Open in Carrollton, Texas, and the TJGT Slick Rock Junior Championship in Horseshoe Bay, Texas.
With a total score of 210, Jiyoon Jong, 17, came in second with 4 birdies for the round. She attributes her success to the fact that she is not a wild hitter. She didn't feel as though she played her best round, but she was able to maintain her game to be in contention up to the end.
"I drove my woods fine, some of my approach shots were a little short – something was just off. I was thinning my irons and I seemed to be doing a lot of "chip & save" in my short game," said Jong. "I wasn't putting with enough speed. I was playing defense the whole way. Toward the end I started adding more speed on my putts and that made a difference. Mostly I feel really good about being under par all three days."
After a shaky start, second round tournament leader Haley Moore, 17, held the lead through the turn at the ninth hole. But she was unable to maintain it, posting three bogeys on the back nine and couldn't seem to regain the momentum she had going into the final round.
"My game was kind of up and down. My putting wasn't the best but I kept on fighting. That's golf. Kenzie played lights out and she deserved to win," said Moore, who was last year's runner up. She said she was happy with her results over all and is proud about coming in 5-under par and is excited to start playing for University of Arizona in January.
Finishing at 1-under par and tied for 4th place overall were Ellie Slama, 16 of Salem, Oregon; Brigitte Dunne, 18 of Camarillo, Calif.; Raegan Bremer, 21, of Anaheim, Calif.; and Elizabeth Wang, 15, of San Marino, Calif.
While all players played the 6102 yard ASU Karsten Golf course, Champions for each age bracket were: • 13-14 year olds: Sabrina Iqbal of San Jose, CA with 217 (1 over par) • 15-16 year olds: Ellie Slama of Salem, OR with 215 (1 under par) • 17-18 year olds: Jiyoon Jang of Rancho Mirage, CA with 210 (6 under par) • 19-23 year olds: Raegan Bremer of Anaheim, CA with 215 (1 under par)
Presenting the Kachina awards was Presenting Sponsor AB Farrington Foundation Chairman, Geri Cavanagh. Cavanagh has long been involved with the Silver Belle Championship and Junior Golf in Arizona. Joining Ms. Cavanagh was Arizona Women's Golf Association Executive Director, Mary Pomroy. Without the support of the AWGA, the Silver Belle would not be able to host the exceptional event the players and coaches have come to know.
45 years ago when Joanne Winter founded the Arizona Silver Belle she had a vision to create an opportunity for amateur women players to compete against not only players of their own age but those ranging in age from 13 - 23. Prior to that time there were few tournaments for young women, but those that did exist were age restricted. Since 1971 these young amateurs have had the chance to compete and learn from one another and to experience all that tournament play has to offer. The Silver Belle has grown into one of the premier amateur events for young women from across the United States and around the world.
SUPPORTING CHAMPIONS AND OUR PLAYER'S EXCITING FUTURE