The International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) hosted its Southeast Major Championship at Palmetto Dunes on Nov. 9-10, 2013. The 36-hole tournament was contested on the George Fazio Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, a course that is often described by many golfers as one of the most challenging golf courses on Hilton Head Island, S.C. With many bunkers, water hazards and towering moss-draped oak trees lining the par-70 course, the field of more than 90 junior golfers were mightily challenged throughout. Two stand-out players at the event were Austin Maher of Bracebridge, Canada, and Rei Nakatani of Tokyo, Japan, who have received Player of the Week honors for the region.
Maher, despite some early struggles, was able to bounce back in the final round to put on an impressive performance. Opening up with a first round score of 12-over-par 82, Maher sat in 26th place and 13 shots off the lead. Determined to play better, he came out with a vengeance in the final round, making an 11 stroke improvement over his first round score. His effort consisted of 13 pars and two notable birdies, including one on the par-4 No. 11 and another on the par-4 No. 13 to end the day with a 1-over-par 71. This spectacular turnaround catapulted Maher into a ninth place finish and has earned him Player of the Week honors for the Boys Divisions. This is Maher’s fourth season with the IJGT, and the event marks his third best finish of the 2013-2014 season, coming after a second place finish at the Sanctuary Shootout Sept. 28-29, and a third place finish at the Georgia Open at Savannah Quarters on Oct. 19-20.
In the Girls Division, Nakatani put forth another distinguished effort, battling back on a tough course and through challenging conditions. A rough first day gave Nakatani an 8-over-par 78 and put her in fifth place going into the final round. She was able to collect herself and narrow her focus, though, coming out during the second round and improving her score by four strokes with a 4-over-par 74 performance. Nakatani sank two birdies in her final round, one on the par-3 No. 6 and another on the par-4 No. 9. With that, she was able to climb up one notch on the leaderboard to grab a fourth place finish in the tournament. This is Nakatani’s second season with the IJGT, and the Majors marked her third event of the 2013-2014 season. She has had two second place finishes already, with one coming at the Florida Junior at Black Diamond Ranch on Oct. 12-13, and the other coming at the Georgia Open at Savannah Quarters on Oct. 19-20.
Congratulations to Maher and Nakatani, and we are eager to see them take these momentum-changing achievements into future events!