Haley Thiele of Wahoo, Nebraska and Wells Padgett of Wichita, Kansas won the girls and boys divisions, respectively, at last week’s 47th annual Trusted Choice® Big "I" National Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas.
During the four-day tournament at the Prairie Dunes Country Club, 159 girls and boys under the age of 19 from 41 states, British Columbia and Ontario competed for the title. Each summer, more than 2,500 junior boys and girls nationally vie to earn a place in the final tournament, with the final roster determined by approximately 100 state and local qualifying events.
Thiele’s final round of five-over-par 75 resulted in her four-day total of 287 to claim the girls’ division title and the Mayerstein Trophy. Padgett’s final round of five-over-par 75 resulted in his four-day total of 285 to claim the boys’ division title and the Robert Trent Jones Trophy.
In the girls division, Dominique Galloway of Rio Rancho, New Mexico placed second with a final round score of five-over-par 75 and a total tournament score of 288. Jennifer Kupcho of Westminster, Colorado placed third with the low score of the final day at two-under-par 68 and a tournament total score of 291. In the boys division, the second-place winner was Riley Griffin of Providence, Rhode Island, with a final day score of three-over-par 73 and a total score of 286. Ryggs Johnston of Libby, Montana placed third, with a final day score of nine-over-par 79 and a tournament total score of 288.
This year’s event garnered both local and national attention: 33 media outlets reported on the event, and 204 outlets in player’s hometowns and nine national sports/golf magazines received event press releases. College coaches from 12 universities, including East Carolina University, Marshall University, University of Kansas and University of Oklahoma, attended to watch the junior golfers compete.
The leaderboard on the event’s website received 85,272 visits during championship week. And tournament followers were social: The Big “I” Golf Facebook page reached 35,000 people with its posts and tournament updates and Twitter users tagged @bigigolf and used the #bigigolf hashtag consistently throughout the week.
“For 47 years, the Trusted Choice Big ‘I’ National Championship has provided teenage golfers a wonderful opportunity to compete at a national level in a supportive atmosphere that cultivates sportsmanship,” says Steve Cocke, Big “I” CFO. “We are proud of the tournament’s long-standing success and congratulate Haley Thiele, Wells Padgett, the finalists and the thousands of junior golfers across the United States and Canada who participated in the local and state tournaments this year.”