Tad Darland’s win at the AJGA Lubbock Junior golf tournament was special for many reasons.
Darland lived in Lubbock from preschool to sixth grade. He has grandparents that still live in town and a sister that graduated from Texas Tech, so it was nice to win it for them, he said.
He made a lot of noise Friday at The Rawls Course at Texas Tech by making birdies on seven of his last 12 holes en route to an impressive 66 for the day.
“It is my last AJGA,” Darland said. “So the drive to finish well and go out with a bang really motivated me.”
Darland and Kolton Lapa ended their round tied, resulting in a playoff on No. 18. After Lapa overshot the green to end up with a bogey for the hole, Darland made par to claim the win.
In the women’s division, Allie Johnston emerged to win her first AJGA tournament with a formidable 68 in the final round.
Johnston, a soon-to-be senior from Castle Rock, Colo., said she could feel the pressure mounting as she came in to No. 18 tied for the lead with Bethany Wu.
“I was really just trying to keep my mind off of it,” Johnston said. “But there was a lot of pressure. ... I wanted to get my third shot close to try for birdie, though.”
Johnston did just that, sinking a birdie to win the tournament title
Yang “Kimmy” Yue Hill, however, could not get her putting on track and ended the day with an 80.
“I still have a lot of time to work on it,” said Hill, a Tech commit from Palm Desert, Calif. “I can get my putting squared away so I think I’ll play a lot better next time.”
She said she had offers from all over the country from schools like Ohio State and TCU. She chose to come to Texas Tech, she said, because of her positive interactions with the coaches.
Hill, who never dreamed golf would take her this far, moved from China to the United States when she was 10.
“It feels amazing,” she said. “I would have never thought I would be on a full scholarship to come here. It’s such a great opportunity. I never thought this would happen even three years ago.”
Frenship teammates Chad Meador, Jack Vanderburg and Jace Foster, finished 24th, 48th and 62nd respectively.
Meador finished his final round with a 72. He said his putting game improved greatly Friday after completing a putt for birdie on No. 18. The tournament has given him a lot of confidence moving forward in the AJGA, he said.
“Just hanging around some of the best juniors in the southern part of the U.S.,” Meador said. “Just getting in the top 25 will give me confidence.”
Vanderburg said he played well Friday, but he wasn’t having any luck with his putter. Seven of his putts were for birdie, he said, but each one of them lipped out.
“Well obviously every time you play in one of these it makes you better,” Vanderburg said. “I am just looking forward to the next tournament. It tells me I need to be more patient and stay calm. I really enjoyed it.
His next tournament is the Bob Estes Abilene Junior, which he will be playing on July 18 with Foster.
Foster started erratic again Friday after shooting a 40 on his first nine holes. He settled in to his game in the second half, though, shooting an even 36.
For his first AJGA tournament, Foster was pleased with his performance.
“It was a good experience,” Foster said. “There are a lot of stout players out there. I’m going to take a lot of knowledge about how good I have to be and how good I need to be to win.”
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Name Hometown Score
Tad Darland Henderson, Nev. 67-71-66—204
Kolton Lapa Mesa, Ariz. 69-67-68—204
Daniel De La Garza Monterrey, Mexico 66-69-70—205
Vincent Whaley McKinney 69-71-66—206
Sean Walsh Keller 68-71-67—206
Name Hometown Score
Allie Johnston Castle Rock, Colo. 74-71-68—213
Bethany Wu Diamond Bar, Calif. 71-71-72—214
Jordan Ferreira University Place, Wash. 71-70-74—215
Mackenzie Boydston Keller 71-74-71—216
Viviana Vazquez Santiago Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Name Hometown Score
24 Chad Meador Lubbock 71-75-72—218
48 Jack Vanderburg Lubbock 72-77-77—226
62 Jace Foster Lubbock 76-82-76—234