Not everybody spent the week before Christmas looking for that last-minute gift.
Some of the top amateur golfers flocked to South Florida for the Dixie Women’s Amateur and the Dixie Amateur.
In the Dixie Women’s Amateur, 16-year-old Yujeong Son of Norman, Okla. finished off a dominating run at Woodlands Country Club in Tamarac, Fla. Friday with an efficient 4-under-par 68 for a 72-hole total of 13-under 275 and a convincing three-shot victory.
Son became only the second player to repeat in Dixie Women’s Amateur. The only other player to successfully defend at the Dixie Women’s Amateur is former Purdue standout Paula Reto of South Africa, who was on hand to present the trophy to the winner. Reto finished third in the LPGA Qualifying School’s Final Stage earlier this month to assure her of full-time status for a fourth year in the big league of women’s golf.
Son had four birdies and no bogeys in her final-round 68 and had only two bogeys in the tournament. After opening with an even-par 72, she posted rounds of 67 and 68 before her closing 68.
“It’s the winter, it’s cold, so it’s good to catch the Florida sun,” Son told amateurgolf.com.
A native of South Korea who moved to Oklahoma at age 6, Son plans to turn pro rather than play college golf, although it sounds like she’ll play at least another year of amateur golf.
Another youngster, Florida junior standout Cindy Kou fired a spectacular 8-under 64 in the final round to finish alone in second at 10-under 278, three shots behind Son.
Heading the list of collegiate standouts in the field was UCLA freshman Patty Tatavanakit, who matched par in the final round with a 72 to finish third at 8-under 280. Tatavanakit, a native of Thailand, is a key member of a UCLA team that is ranked No. 1 by Golfstat as college golf takes its annual midseason sojourn.
Dylan Kim, a junior from Plano, Texas, was one of three members of the No. 4 Arkansas golf team who teed it up in the Dixie Women’s Amateur and finished tied for fourth with Lily May Humphreys, a 15-year-old phenom from England.
Kim finished strong with rounds of 69 and 68 to end up at 7-under 281.
Kim’s Arkansas teammate, Maria Fassi, a junior from Mexico, played in the final group Friday with Son and Tatavanakit, but fell back a little with a 2-over 74 for a 4-under 284 total that left her tied for seventh. The third Arkansas player in the field was Cara Gorlei, a junior from South Africa who finished tied for 23rd at 4-over 292.
There was no hotter team in the country than the Razorbacks at the start of the fall portion of the college golf season. They ascended to the No. 1 spot in the rankings before cooling off a little late in the fall. Arkansas will be a team to be reckoned with when the college golf season reaches the homestretch in April.
Humphreys won the British Girls Amateur title last summer and is one of 14 players named to the provisional Great Britain & Ireland team, which will try to retain the Curtis Cup when the biennial competition is played in June at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y.
Humphreys put together a pair of 68s to open the Dixie Women’s Amateur before battling headaches and allergies in the final two rounds. Still, she had rounds of 74 and 71 to get a piece of fourth along with Kim at 7-under 281.
North Carolina’s Kelly Whaley, a junior from Farmington, Conn., posted a final round of 2-under 70 to finish at 3-under 285 and alone in ninth.
Alexa Pano, the 13-year-old Florida phenom, had a final round of 71 to finish tied for 31st at 8-over 296.
Penn State junior Lauren Waller, the runnerup in the 2014 PIAA Class AAA Championship as a senior at Canon-McMillan, had a final round of 2-under 70 to finish tied for 38th at 9-over 297. Notre Dame junior Isabella DiLisio, the 2013 PIAA Class AAA champion as a junior at Mount St. Joseph, struggled in the final round with an 81 after playing 7-over golf in the first three rounds, and finished tied for 53rd at 15-over 303.
Reigning Pennsylvania Junior Girls’ champion Rylie Heflin failed to make the cut for the final day with rounds of 79, 85 and 83. But it was undoubtedly a great experience for Heflin, a freshman at Tower Hill School in Wilmington, Del.
The winner of the Dixie Amateur, which concluded Friday at Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs, Fla., was South Florida commit Luke Gifford, a high school senior from nearby Boca Raton.
Gifford dropped in clutch 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole to match par in the final round with a 72 that gave him a 5-under 283 total and a one-shot victory over three players.
The trio that finished tied for second at 4-under 284 included Diego Cordova, a Florida scholastic standout who closed strong with a 4-under 68, Florida Tech sophomore Han Xue of China, who had a final-round 70, and Paul-Louis Gachet of France, who matched par in the final round with a 72.
Former Radnor High standout Carey Bina matched par in the final round to finish tied for 44th at 11-over 299. Former Haverford School standout Max Siegfried, a freshman at Virginia, missed the cut with rounds of 77 and 78.
Doug Hanzel of Savannah, Ga. captured the senior title for third time, his 1-under 215 total giving him a six-shot cushion over runnerup Mark Knecht of Paducah, Ky. Hanzel, among the top senior players in the country, opened with a sparkling 6-under 66 at TPC at Eagle Trace before adding rounds of 74 and 75.
Hanzel gave western Pennsylvania’s Sean Knapp, the eventual winner, one of Knapp’s toughest tests on his way to the U.S. Senior Amateur championship at The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, Minn. last summer. Knapp survived a battle with Hanzel in the round of 16 with a 2 and 1 victory.
Jeffrey Knox of Brecksville, Ohio captured the super senior division with a 5-over 221 total. Knox had rounds of 74, 75 and 72 on his way a 12-shot victory over a pair of Floridians, Keith Keister of Orlando, and John Osborne of Vero Beach. Keister and Osborne finished up at 17-over 233.