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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.

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Chang and Zweig Hold Clubhouse Leads at Texas Junior Amateur

HORSESHOE BAY – Hanseung Chang of Cedar Park followed his opening 4-under 67 with a 1-under-par 70. The recent high school graduate leads the Boys Division by one stroke through 36 holes at Horseshoe Bay Resort’s Ram Rock Golf Course. McKinney’s Avery Zweig holds the clubhouse lead by one stroke in the Girls Division following a 1-over-par 73 at Apple Rock. Round 2 in the Girls Division was suspended due to darkness and will resume Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m.

Earlier in the afternoon, play was suspended at 3:45 p.m. due to inclement weather in the area. Play resumed following a two-hour and eight-minute suspension. The Boys Division was able to get through 36 holes and the field was cut to the low-45 and ties. Five players in the Girls Division were unable to complete their second round. Following the completion of Round 2 tomorrow morning, the Girls Division will be cut to the low-30 and ties for the final round.

Chang, who will play collegiately for the University of Houston this fall, relied on his veteran experience in Round 2. After carding a bogey on the par-4 second and a double-bogey on the par-4 third, he stood on the fourth tee at 3-over on the day. However, he didn’t let the rough start rattle him and played his closing 15 holes in 4-under par.

“I really try to concentrate on the shot that is given to me in the moment instead of thinking which holes should I make birdies in the future,” Chang said.

His mentality has led to 13 birdies through two rounds on one of the state’s most difficult courses. Ram Rock, known as “The Challenger”, demands precision off the tee and presents many risk-reward situations. Chang remained patient and stuck to his game plan throughout the first two rounds.

“It’s really a placement golf course,” Chang said. “Some shots are risky and you really have to go for it on a couple holes. If you mess up, you just pray for bogey. But if you hit it in a good spot, you really can get an easy birdie out here.”

Chang leads Matthew Spaulding of Spring by one stroke. Spaulding, who finished tied 24th last year at The Clubs of Kingwood’s Forrest Course, carded five birdies in Round 2 en route to a 3-under-par 68. The high school junior says he plans to play his game and not focus solely on the scores during the final round.

“I just want to make sure I have fun out there,” Spaulding said. “I want to make sure I enjoy the moment and not just get caught up in it.”

Two of the favorites coming into this week, Zach Heffernan of Fair Oaks Ranch and Gaven Lane of Argyle, are tied third. Heffernan, the defending champion, carded rounds of 66-73 and sits two shots back of Chang. Lane, a 2023 Oklahoma State University commit and the 15th ranked junior in Texas, will begin the final round also two shots off the lead. He’s carded rounds of 70-69, highlighted by a bogey-free 5-under 33 on his opening nine this morning.

Andrew Baucum of Heath and Evan Vo of Austin are tied fifth at 1-under par and four shots off the lead.

Zweig leads the Girls Division with two groups left to finish Round 2. She played another patient round of golf and carded back-to-back birdies on the par-4 15th and par-4 16th en route to 1-over 73. The 15th ranked junior girl in the state holds a one-shot lead and will look to add a Texas Junior Amateur title to her decorated junior golf resume. The 2025 high school graduate has recorded top-finishes in the U.S. Girls Junior Championship, U.S. Kids World Championship and Texas Girls Invitational.

Tiffany Cao of Midlothian and Mimi Burton of Austin are currently tied second at 2-over par. The 2019 Player of the Year Lauren Nguyen of Katy is fourth at 3-over, while Nitisha Manikandesh of Plano is fifth at 4-over.

In the Boys 14 & Under Division, Brooks Simmons of Dallas carded six birdies on Tuesday en route to a 3-under-par 69. His final round was highlighted by a run of four straight birdies from the par-5 fourth to the par-5 seventh. Simmons posted 2-under for the championship to claim the 14 & Under Division title by two strokes. The 13-year-old joins a long list of 14 & Under past champions, including three-time Major Champion Jordan Spieth, University of Texas standout Parker Coody and former Big 12 Champion Stratton Nolen.

“I started off really well today,” Simmons said. “I was 4-under through six and I just cruised on from there. It really means a lot.”

Corbin Null of Woodway, Bowen Ballis of Shenandoah and Reese Roberts of Dallas tied for second at even par for the championship. Trenton Mierl of Austin rounded out the top-five with rounds of 72-74.

In the Girls 14 & Under Division, Sidney Robertson of Chandler carded a final round 3-over-par 75 at Apple Rock. The 14-year-old battled back and forth all day with Alyssa Kurji of Dallas and Addison Ko of Plano. Despite a double-bogey on the par-5 11th, Robertson bounced back with a birdie on the picturesque par-3 12th. She posted 5-over for the championship to win by three strokes.

“My short game was definitely on this week,” Robertson said. “I’ve spent the last two to three weeks really working hard to try to get ready for this, and it really just means a lot that the hard work paid off.”

Kurji posted rounds of 77-75 and took home runner-up honors. Ko finished 9-over for the championship and solo third. Raleygh Simpson of Kerrville finished fourth at 12-over, while Samantha Gibbs of Fort Worth finished fifth at 16-over.

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.

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