The 20th anniversary Nicklaus Junior Championship sponsored by Jack and Barbara Nicklaus was held recently at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and youngsters from Miami Springs, Jupiter, Parkland, Wellington, North Palm Beach and Pembroke Pines were the age group winners. The Champion course hosted 84 juniors in three separate age divisions. The entry list showed 62 boys and 22 girls. There were three prize winners in each age group.
Patrick Perez of Miami Springs shot 78-73—151 on the Jack Nicklaus-redesigned Champion course, where the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic is played each March, to win the boys 16-18 flight Sunday (July 21). A rising senior at Miami Springs High, Perez, 17, did not make a birdie on Saturday but had four Sunday. “My short game was better today,” he said. He finished with a flourish, making birdies at the 16th and 18th holes and a double bogey at the par-3 17th after hitting his tee shot into the water.
Jake Holt, 15, of Jupiter, Fla., was the only player to break par for the weekend with 71-72—143 to win the boys 13-15.
Morgan Gardner of Parkland, Fla., made one birdie in 36 holes but it was the difference between 80 Saturday and 79 Sunday as she won the girls 16-18 at 159. Kaely Krayeski, 14, of Wellington, Fla., won the girls 13-15 with 75-81—156.
Playing the back nine of the Champion course Saturday, Henry Dubiel of North Palm Beach survived a three-way playoff at par-36 to win the boys 10-12. Casey Weidenfeld, 10, of Pembroke Pines, edged Taylor Caradonna of Boca Raton by a stroke, 38-39, to pace the girls 10-12 years old.
The Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 1990, and the Golden Bear has made additional tweaks since The Honda Classic moved there in 2007. The Champion features “The Bear Trap,” which spans three demanding closing holes—Nos. 15, 16, and 17—and a trio USA Today calls “one of the toughest stretches in golf.”