LEE, MOON WIN MEMORABLE IIAJC TITLES
Newest Champions Crowned at Dornick Hills CC in Ardmore, Okla.
ALEXANDRIA, VA, August 5—After four days of intense play and weather delays at Dornick Hills Country Club in Ardmore, Okla., the 36th annual Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic (IIAJC) concluded in thrilling fashion for newly crowned champions, Alina Lee, 14, of Evans, Ga., and Ji Ho Moon, 15, of Ellicott City, Md.
The IIAJC, the third longest-running junior golf event in the country, provides young golfers the genuine feel of PGA and LPGA events through a 72-hole, stroke-play event and practice round. By the start of the tournament, more than 7,000 junior golfers had competed in 400 local and state qualifiers for one of the 162 coveted spots at the national finals.
For Lee, her victory showed that a year can make all the difference. In 2003, Lee failed to make the national finals field in heartbreaking fashion when she missed a 3-foot putt on the final hole of her state qualifier tournament, falling short by a single stroke. The last day of this year’s national finals, Lee shot a 5-over-par 76 to finish with a four-day total of 300, four strokes ahead of runner-up Michelle Grilli of Lutherville, Md., who finished at 304, and 11 strokes ahead of Ann Laney of Charlotte, N.C., who finished third at 311. Corrine Carr of Pinehurst, N.C., took fourth with 312.
In the boys’ division, Moon played consistently, shooting 70-69-71 through the first three rounds. Moon moved into the lead after Wednesday’s third-round and managed to fight off a late surge by Allen Koon of Bamberg, S.C., to take home the championship by five strokes, shooting an even-par 70 and finishing with an even-par 280.
Koon, who shot 70 each of the last two days, appeared headed for a photo finish with Moon when he closed within a stroke going into the 13th hole. There, however, the tide turned back in Moon’s favor when he hit an eagle, using a 4-iron to hole out from 192 yards.
“The IIAJC continues to get better every year,” says Ron Wininger, chairman of the national IIAJC Committee. “The competition was tight and these top-notch golfers proved why they are the nation’s best. There’s no doubt that we’ll see a number of them playing professionally in the near future.”
This year’s event, hosted by the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, took place July 25 through 29. During the tournament, 108 boys and 54 girls competed for the coveted Robert Trent Jones Trophy (boys) and the Mayerstein Trophy (girls).
The young golfers also competed in the 19th annual Patrick Cannon Memorial National Long Drive Championship. Weather delays during the third round forced tournament organizers to cancel the event’s finals, scheduled for after that round. Therefore, long drive champions were named based on drives from Sunday’s qualifying during the practice round: Dawn Shockley of Estes Park, Colo., with a drive of 240 yards, was declared girls’ champion, and Jeremy Davis of Fort Smith, Ark., with a drive of 287 yards, was declared boys’ champion.
Earlier in the tournament, the relatives of PGA Tour stars and past IIAJC champions led the pack. Kevin Tway, son of PGA golfer Bob Tway, led the boys’ division after the first day while Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods, led the girls’ division. Tway, of Edmond, Okla., eventually finished tied for fourth. Woods, of Phoenix, finished fifth in the girls’ division. Tway’s father won the IIAJC tournament in 1976. Cheyenne’s uncle, Tiger Woods, participated in the IIAJC four times, placing in the top three each year and winning the event twice (1990 and 1992). He still holds several tournament records, including youngest winner and most top 10 finishes.
Since 2001, The Tiger Woods Foundation has been the presenting sponsor of the IIAJC. Established in 1996 by Tiger Woods and his father, Earl, the Tiger Woods Foundation empowers young people to reach their highest potential by initiating and supporting community-based programs that promote the health, education and welfare of America’s children.
Woods and Tway are just a couple of the many renowned PGA and LPGA stars who participated in the IIAJC during their younger years. PGA Tour regulars Billy Andrade and Justin Leonard are past IIAJC boys’ champions, while other distinguished IIAJC alumni include David Duval and Phil Mickelson. The prominent LPGA standouts who won IIAJC titles in the girls’ division include Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung and Grace Park.
Next year’s Independent Insurance Agent Junior Classic will be played at Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. For more information about the 2004 event, including complete scores and day-by-day tournament summaries, please visit www.iiajc.com.
The IIAJC is coordinated annually by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers. IIABA represents a network of more than 300,000 member agents and agency employees in communities throughout the country. More than 2,000 IIABA members help organize and administer the local and state qualifying events that determine the IIAJC national finals field.