Around the Green
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Valadez Wins Byron Nelson Junior Championship in Playoff
DALLAS—Levi Valadez of San Antonio won a one-hole playoff against Plano’s Parker Coody to win the prestigious Byron Nelson Junior Championship at venerable Lakewood Country Club.
Valadez, who has committed to Kansas State, was the 36-hole leader and looked poised to win going away after he took a commanding three-shot lead with six holes to play. However, the leaderboard got a little tighter when Valadez doubled-bogeyed the par-4 16th. His lead diminished to one shot, and that advantage remained until the final hole.
After an errant tee shot, Valadez found himself in the trees. His approach to the 18th green landed in the back bunker. This left the door slightly open for Coody who was just one back. Valadez hit a nice bunker shot and was about 10 feet away from the hole. If he knocked it in, he would’ve become champion without any drama. However, that was not the case. Valadez bogeyed his final hole and Coody made par, so the champion would have to be decided in a playoff. Valdez finished with a 1-over 72 in the final round. Coody posted 1-under 70.
The Coody family is no stranger to playoffs at the Byron Nelson Junior Championship. His twin brother Pierceson lost to Lewisville’s Ryan Grider last year in extra holes. Pierceson was proved to be valuable as a caddie for his brother today.
On the other side, Valadez had to regroup after giving up his lead on the final hole. His caddie, K-State’s Ben Fernandez, gave Valadez some calming advice.
“My caddie just told me to slow down and take deep breaths and you know, it’s in the past you can’t really change it so I was just looking forward from there,” Valadez said.
The playoff would consist of replaying the 18th hole until one player became champion. Valadez just needed one extra trip on the downhill par 4.
After Coody three-putted for a bogey, Valadez was left with a short putt for par. He made no mistake this time and rolled it in to become the 2016 Byron Nelson Junior Champion.
“I came out here and I played really well,” Valadez said. “I had one bad hole on the back nine but besides that I had a lot of fun today so I was happy.”
It should be no surprise that Valadez won this tournament. He just came off another win at the Patrick Reed Junior Championship down in The Woodlands. Not a bad summer.
“I just came off a win in the Woodlands so I was pretty confident with my game,” Valadez said. “I just knew if I hit decent shots and got on the green, I was putting confidently and I think that was a very big determining factor in this win.”
As for Coody, he has a bright future ahead of him. Although only juniors in high school, he and his brother already have committed to play at the University of Texas.
On hand to watch the dramatic finish was Peggy Nelson, the late Byron Nelson’s wife. Peggy tries to make it to every Byron Nelson Junior event. She said she keeps coming because of all the young talent.
“I have been coming out here to watch the boys play and getting to know [Jordan Spieth] a little bit when he was playing three years in a row. It’s really fun to see,” Nelson said. “The boys are all not only well trained in terms of golf but they’re so polite and such good examples for other kids coming up behind them to emulate and to enjoy playing this great game.”
Nelson has already planned to be in attendance for next year’s Byron Nelson Junior Championship which is sure to be another great tournament.
Shaui Ming Wong from The Woodlands finished in third place at 5-under 208. Beshoory Pryce of Pearland was fourth at 4-under 209. Flower Mound’s Dawson Lewis took fifth place at 3-under 210.
The Legends Junior Tour extends its most sincere gratitude to the staff and members of Lakewood Country Club, as well as our volunteers, for their efforts in making the Byron Nelson Junior Championship another great success. For more information, including complete scoring, click here.