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FIFTY young local and international golfers from throughout the region competed in the 4th Annual BMW Guam USA Junior Open, a three-day (54 hole) event, which wrapped up over the weekend at Leo Palace in Manenggon Hills, Yoña.
This year’s event included players ranging in age from 7 to 18 years old, hailing from Japan, Taiwan and Guam.
Three of Guam’s great golf prodigies, Bryan Gogue (8), Devin Hua (14) and Kristin Oberiano (18), all won their respective age divisions, with Oberiano clobbering the competition and claiming the title with a 41-stroke advantage. Finishing with a total score of (240) for the three days, her next closest competitor was Jordan Heath (281).
The former Saint John’s School standout, and soon-to-be student at California’s Occidental College in California, when asked how she remained focused amid a lack of competition, said: “I keep a goal. Today I wanted to break 80, so I pushed myself to break 76, but I didn’t make it." (Oberiano shot a third-round 79.)
When asked about her continued commitment to the sport, the education-minded Oberiano commented, “If I get any better, maybe I’ll try the LPGA, but I’ll have to see. I’m focused more on school and I want to get a doctorate in History.”
Heading into day three with a 131 two-day total (66, 65), 8-year-old Bryan Gogue seemed a lock for claiming the championship in the boys' 7- to-8-year-old division. However, Yukki Kubo (Japan) wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. Kubo was able to crawl his way back into the match, shaving 15 points from the leader. In the end, Gogue finished the tournament with a three-day 211 total (66, 65, 80), two shots ahead of Kubo's 213 (79, 69, 65).
After his final round, the young Gogue commented on his round-three play: “I played bad.”
One of the tournament’s most competitive matchups pitted Devin Hua (14) against the younger Teddy Gogue (13). Hua held a three-stroke lead headed into the final round of play (160-157). At the end of the final round, Gogue was able to tie up the affair at 231 apiece, forcing the twosome into a sudden death playoff hole. Hua sensed things would be going his way after Gogue drove his tee-shot flying into the bunker.
Hua commented, “I felt such a sense of relief when I saw Teddy pull into the bunker, so I just hit it down the middle very easily.” Gogue was able to save par with a nice setup chip shot from the rough, but Hua was able to tap in for a birdie.
John Shen, president of the Guam Junior Golf League, commented about the 18-year-old league: “The idea for the junior golf league is to make sure that all the kids on Guam have a chance to try to learn this game.” Proud of the league’s success and the overall improvement of Guam junior golf, Shen added: “The happy thing to see is that during the last four years on Guam, we see the kids on Guam coming back to play this tournament and we can see the advancement of their skills.”
Click here for the list of winners in the 4th Annual BMW Guam USA Junior Open.