Nicole Morales Wins AJGA Polo Junior Classic
ELMSFORD, N.Y. (November 28, 2011) — Nicole Morales of South Salem, N.Y. added to her rapidly growing tournament résumé by claiming victory at the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on November 25, 2011. Morales, 15, defeated Jessica Vasilic of Anaheim Hills, California, 3 & 1, in the final match.
The 156-player, invitation-only field started on November 19 with 78 boys and 78 girls, ages 12-18, from 27 states, Puerto Rico and 12 foreign countries. After 36 holes of stroke play qualifying, the low 32 players were seeded for match play. Former champions of the event include Stewart Cink (1989), Trevor Immelman (1995), Tiger Woods (1991), Paula Creamer (2002), Grace Park (1994, 1996) and Morgan Pressel (2004).
Morales now adds this major victory to a growing list of accomplishments that includes winning the 2010 MGA/WMGA Public Links Championship, competing on the MGA/WMGA team in the 2010 French-American Challenge Matches in Paris, finshing as runner-up at this year’s Lincoln Women’s Met Open Championship, and advancing to the Round of 16 at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur. She used that considerable tournament experience to overcome an early deficit in the final.
Heading to the fifth tee, Morales was three down to Vasilic, who had birdied three of the first four holes. She gained two holes back on the front nine, and made the turn one down to the Swede. On hole number 10, Morales made her second birdie of the day to bring the match back to all square. With the swing in momentum, Morales gained confidence heading into the final holes. She took a 1-up lead on 13, and after an aggressive second shot from a fairway bunker on 16, won the hole and was dormie two heading into the 17th hole.
“Standing on the tee of No. 17, I just couldn’t believe I had done it,” Morales said. “I knew it wasn’t over and I knew she could make the putt, but there are really no other words to describe the way I was feeling then.”
Her victory at the Polo Golf Junior Classic is even more impressive considering she defeated four AJGA Rolex Junior All-Americans in match play. Looking at the names on the trophy, Morales reflected on being a part of the history of this prestigious event. “It means everything to me to win. So many LPGA players have won this event in their amateur careers and just to be a part of that is amazing.