Yang Defeats Pike To Win the 88th MGA Junior Championship
Hempstead, N.Y. - With defending champion Patrick Fillian not in the field this week, and with tournament favorites Mark Costanza and Sun Ho Kim ousted in the quarter-finals, the stage was set for a breakout performance at the 88th MGA Junior Championship at Hempstead Golf & Country Club, and it did not disappoint. After three long, hot days of tough tournament golf, 14-year old Gene Yang of East Brunswick, NJ, triumphed 2 and 1 over Jeff Pike of Rye, NY, in the finals of the nation’s oldest junior championship.
Before meeting in the finals both players survived semi-final matches against two Long Island natives, with Yang facing Daniel Abbondandolo of Oyster Bay, NY, and Pike squaring off against James Stack, Jr. of Port Jefferson, NY. Yang, who attends Churchill Junior High, took an early 1 up lead on Abbondandolo on the par-4 2nd hole and would maintain the lead throughout the match, eventually going to 4-up after parring the par-4 14th. After dropping to 3-up after a bogey on 15, Yang closed the match 3 and 2
Pike, a Rye High School senior, faced James Stack, Jr. in the semi-finals, and also took an early lead on the second hole, a lead he also would never lose. After dropping two holes late in the match to bring the lead to just two with four to play, Pike eagled the short par-4 14th by holing a wedge from 90 yards out. “I obviously didn’t think it would go in, but it landed, came back and dropped in the hole,” explained Pike after the match. He would also birdie the next hole to win the match 4 and 3.
In the final, Pike jumped out to an early 2-up lead after Yang bogeyed the second and third holes, but the match would return to all square after Pike bogeyed the fourth and fifth. All square going into the ninth hole, a short par-4, Yang would go 1-up with a birdie, while Pike would struggle to make double bogey. Yang birdied the 11th to go 2-up and when Pike bogeyed the 317 yard 12th extended his lead to 3-up with five to play. The pressure on the young star seemed to take its toll over the next few holes and after Yang went bogey and double bogey on 15 and 16 had dropped his lead to 1-up. With two holes left in the match, they approached the difficult par-3 17th. Pike left his tee shot short of the green while Yang put his on the green and left himself a 25-foot putt for birdie. Pike chipped up to five feet of the hole but Yang put a beautiful lag within a foot of the hole. Pike would miss his par attempt making Gene Yang one of the youngest winners in MGA Junior Championship history.
“I am really proud to have won the oldest junior golf tournament in the country,” said a fresh faced Yang. “It’s really special.”
A complete list of today’s results is attached. For more information contact Jeff Carroll or Gene Westmoreland of the MGA @ (914) 347-GOLF or visit the MGA website at www.mgagolf.org.