Kelly Hooper Victorious at 60th PNGA Junior Girls' Amateur Championship
Kelly Hooper of Spokane, Wash. defeated Jalayne Martinez of Pasco, Wash. 4 and 3 in the final match to win the 60th Pacific Northwest Junior Girls’ Amateur Championship.
The championship was held at RedHawk Golf Course in Nampa, Idaho, and was conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA).
During the 18-hole final match, there were several lead changes during the front nine, and the match stood at all square after 10 holes. But then Hooper won four of the next five holes to close it out with a par on the 15th hole.
“This is a little crazy,” Hooper said afterward with a laugh. “I didn’t expect to win at all, especially after the first round. I can’t believe I was able to stick out it.” Hooper had struggled in the 18-hole stroke play qualifying round, ending up as the No. 11 seed. “I didn’t have my best day,” Hooper said about the qualifying round. “But I just told myself to just go with it as far (in match play) as I can. It was nice to be able to play the course for several days this week; I got better on the greens, and better about where to hit the ball onto the greens to give myself a chance at birdies.”
Hooper had made it into the final match by winning yesterday’s quarterfinal and semifinal matches. She defeated Grace Frazier of Clarkston, Wash. 3 and 1 in the quarterfinals, and then hung on to defeat the No. 2 seed, Serena Lee of Auburn, Wash., 1-up in the semifinals. Hooper had a 4-up lead on Lee early in the match, but Lee came back to square it up after 17 holes. Hooper won the match with a par on the 18th hole.
In yesterday’s quarterfinal and semifinal matches, Martinez, the No. 4 seed in the match play bracket, had defeated Danika Palm of Richland, Wash. 5 and 4 in the quarterfinal, and then defeated the championship’s medalist and No. 1 seed, Ashley Fitzgibbons of Sammamish, Wash., 2 and 1 in the afternoon’s semifinal match.
Hooper joins the rich history of the Pacific Northwest Junior Girls’ Amateur, which includes past champions Jo Ann Washam, Peggy Conley, Joan Edwards-Powell, Mary Budke, and JoAnne Gunderson Carner, all of whom would later be inducted into the Pacific Northwest Golf Hall of Fame after storied amateur and professional careers. Other past champions include current LPGA Tour players Paige Mackenzie and Jimin Kang.
This is one of 15 regional championships conducted annually by the PNGA.
RedHawk Golf Course opened in July of 2014, and has already hosted the 2014 Idaho Golf Association (IGA) Junior Amateur State Championship and the 2015 IGA Women’s Four-Ball Championship.