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Zach Heffernan and Lauren Nguyen Win 94th Texas Junior Amateur

HORSESHOE BAY – Zach Heffernan of Fair Oaks Ranch cards a final round 1-under-par 70 at Horseshoe Bay Resort’s Ram Rock Golf Course to defend his title and win back-to-back Texas Junior Amateurs. Katy’s Lauren Nguyen fired a closing 6-under-par 66 to come from behind and win the Girls Division by one stroke at Apple Rock.

Heffernan, who won last year at The Clubs of Kingwood’s Forrest Course, entered the week seeking to become the first back-to-back Texas Junior Amateur champion since Hunter Haas in 1994-95. The 2021 Baylor University commit carded rounds of 66-70 in his first two rounds to put himself in contention on Wednesday. He began the final round tied third and two strokes behind the 36-hole leader Hanseung Chang of Cedar Park.

Heffernan started firing early with birdies on the par-4 first and par-4 third to cut Chang’s lead to one. Following bogeys on the par-3 fourth and par-5 seventh, he turned at even par and trailed by three with nine holes to play. Despite the deficit, Heffernan never wavered. The defending champion continued to hit solid shots and pace himself on the difficult back nine at Ram Rock.

“The front nine started off well and then kind of got sketchy toward seven, eight and nine,” Heffernan said. “But on the back nine, I had a bunch of good looks and birdied the par-5 14th.”

Heffernan’s birdie brought him within one shot of the lead. Chang, who will play for the University of Houston this fall, was struggling on his closing loop. He double-bogeyed the par-4 11th and bogeyed the par-4 13th. After carding pars on holes 14-16, Chang held onto a one-shot lead with two to play. He missed the green on the par-3 17th and made another bogey. Heffernan made par, and they walked to the 18th tee tied for the championship.

The defending champion fired his tee shot up the right-center of the fairway and left himself a wedge into the green. Chang, trying to match Heffernan, blocked his tee ball a little right. It bounded through the rough and out of bounds. Chang closed with a double-bogey, while Heffernan flipped his wedge shot onto the putting surface and two-putted for the victory.

“It feels good to go back-to-back,” Heffernan said. “It’s amazing.”

Heffernan joins the short list of players to accomplish consecutive Texas Junior Amateur wins. Only two other players in the tournament’s 94-year history have won back-to-back, Hunter Haas in 1994-95 and Buck Luce in 1937-38. Heffernan heads to the 111th Texas Amateur at Boot Ranch next week. He’ll look to add another elite amateur title to his junior golf resume.

Gaven Lane of Argyle, Matthew Spaulding of Spring and Zachary Kingsland of Austin shared runner-up honors at 3-under par overall. Chang and Andrew Baucum of Heath tied for fifth at 1-under par.

In the Girls Division, history was made as well. Nguyen, a junior at Seven Lakes High School, started the day two shots behind Avery Zweig of McKinney. The 2019 Player of the Year bogeyed her second hole, but rallied with three birdies over her next seven holes to turn in 2-under-par 34.

Nguyen didn’t slow down on the back nine. She birdied the par-5 10th to climb into a share of the lead with Zweig and Tiffany Cao of Midlothian. The next eight holes became a battle between the three talented junior girls. Zweig, Cao and Nguyen all carded bogey-free closing nines, but Nguyen’s clutch birdie on the par-4 18th clinched the victory.

“I knew that this wasn’t the easiest course,” Nguyen said. “So, I knew if I just kept playing like I know how to play then everything will fall together for me.”

Nguyen, who won the Girls 14 & Under Division in 2017, becomes only the second player to win Texas Junior Amateur titles in both girl divisions. Since her win three years ago, Nguyen has had her eyes set on the Girls Division trophy.

“When I won the 14 & Under, I looked at the girl who won the 15 and over,” Nguyen said. “I told myself that’s always what I wanted to do. You know, I could never see myself doing that, but today it happened.”

Cao posted 2-under overall and solo second. Zweig finished third at 1-under. Mimi Burton of Austin was fourth at even par, while Emma McMyler of San Antonio rounded out the top-five at 5-over par.

Players, spectators and volunteers were required to follow specific health and safety guidelines throughout the day. The LJT provided hand sanitizer at water coolers, starting tees and scoring areas. Players were not allowed to touch the flagsticks and bunker rakes were removed from the golf course.  The driving range and practice putting green were monitored and limited to a specific number of players. Players and spectators were asked to practice social distancing throughout the golf course and practice facilities.

The Legends Junior Tour extends its sincere appreciation to the staff and members of Horseshoe Bay Resort as well as our volunteers for their integral part in making the 94th Texas Junior Amateur a memorable and successful event.

For more information on the Texas Junior Amateur, click here. For the full leaderboard, click here.