The second annual Charles Howell III Junior Championship finished last week at West Lake Country Club, with 99 of the premier junior golfers on the planet battling for a chance to claim the title.
Despite boasting a field representing 20 states and two foreign countries, the event also had plenty of local entries. Eleven of the 75 boys participating and three of the 24 girls were from the Augusta area.
Anna Kim, of Chandler, Ariz., jumped out to an early lead and was never really challenged in the girls division. Kim, who was the medalist in the qualifying tournament, opened with a bogey-free five-under-68 for a four-shot lead.
For the girls, West Lake played to a par 73 and measured 6,149 yards. Kim played as if she was a West Lake member, following up her brilliant opening round with one-under 72 in the second round.
Heading into the final round, Kim led by eight shots, with a pair of local players right behind her. Sisters Ashlan and Taylor Ramsey stood two-over. Taylor shot 72-76, while younger sister Ashlan carded rounds of 74 and 74.
Kim struggled a bit in the final round with a three-over 76, but was able to coast to a five-shot win.
Taylor Ramsey, who will be a sophomore this year at Greenbrier High School, finished tied for second after a final round of even-par 73. Ashlan, who will be a freshman, shot a four-over 77 and settled for a fifth-place finish. The only other Columbia County participant was Sarah Harrison, who earned entry through the Monday qualifier. Harrison finished in 24th place with rounds of 95-87-108.
The boys division was much closer. Drew Czuchry, of Auburn, Ga., claimed the victory. Czuchry played brilliantly early in the final round, but after three back-nine bogeys, Czuchry held on to win by one shot. Czuchry was steady all week, shooting par or better all three rounds. The course played nearly 6,900 yards and a par 72 for the boys, and Czuchry's 70-71-72 finish showed that the lengthy course could be tamed.
Columbia County had plenty to be proud of in the boys division. The top finisher was Kelby Burton, of Lakeside High. After opening with a disappointing two-over 74, Burton went to work in round two. His three-under 69 was the second-best round of the day.
Burton's one-under 71 was among the best on the final day, but it was not enough and the Lakeside senior, whose rounds of 74-69-71 had him at two-under, had to settle for a second-place tie.
Another local who played well is Emmanuel Kountakis. The rising Lakeside freshman shot rounds of 72-73-71 to finish even-par three shots back.
Greenbrier's Cody Shafer tied for 14th. His two-over total was just five shots off the winning total.
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