In the final Elite Series event before the annual Elites Cup Invitational, the final two spots into the exclusive tournament were on the line at Augusta Pines Golf Club in Spring, and the competition was fierce to secure the coveted invitations. In the end, it was consistency in the Girls Division that won out, and some smart, disciplined decisions in the Boys Division that paved the path to victory, as College Station’s Felisa Sajulga and Houston’s Sean O’Neal claimed victories in the event and the final spots in the 2019 Elites Cup Invitational.
In the Girls Division, Sajulga, playing in one of the final groups in Round 1, started out a bit shaky, making three bogeys in her first nine holes, and failing to birdie the par 5 second. She righted the ship on the back nine, making four straight pars on 10-13, and the back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 to card a 1-over-par 73 and take the lead heading into Round 2. Four shots back stood Lometa junior LeeAnn Parker, and Missouri City junior Carmen Kennett was one shot behind her heading into the second day.
In Round 2, Sajulga got off to a fast start, rolling in a birdie on the first hole and carding another on the par-4 5th to stretch out her lead. Parker made things interesting to start, going 1-under through her first six holes, but made costly bogeys on holes 7 and 9 to fall further off the lead. While Sajulga had a few slip-ups early on the back 9, she was steady coming down the stretch, making six straight pars to finish her round, shooting another 73, good enough for a six-shot victory, her first on the TJGT. Parker, who shot 75 on Day 2, took solo second.
The real battle was for third place, between Kennett and Houston’s Sarah Kmiecik. Both struggled a bit early in the round, but finished strong, tied for 3rd place at 12-over-par for the tournament.
In the Boys Division, Houston’s San ONeal blew the doors off the field on the first day, firing a 5-under 67 to grab command of the tournament and a three-shot lead over Preston Rouse and Asanka White. ONeal’s round was nearly flawless – he made 10 straight pars to start the day before carding a birdie on the par-4 11th hole, and then rolled in four more on the back nine, including three straight on 16, 17 and 18 to shoot 31 on his inward 9. Rouse also finished with a flurry in round 1, making birdies on 13, 16 and 18, while White made early birdies on 2, 3 and 5.
On Day 2, things got interesting quick as Rouse birdied the first hole and stood just 1-over for the day through 9, while ONeal stumbled, shooting 39 on the front and seeing his 3-shot lead evaporate to just a single stroke. After both boys played a smooth back nine, the two stood over their second shots are the par-5 18th hole tied for the lead and 1-under-par for the tournament. Rouse went for the green in 2 with a 4-iron, but his shot found the water around the island green. ONeal was in the fairway bunker with a good lie and about 200 yards to the green, but made the disciplined decision to put the long iron away and lay up safely with a wedge. He then knocked it on the green and two-putted for par, while Rouse failed to make a par of his own.
ONeal shot 76 on the final day for a 1-under-par total, good enough for a 2-shot victory over Rouse. Rounding out the Top 5 were Zachary Robertson and Nicholas Hance, who finished T-3, and Austin Coyle and Juan Pablo Vega, who finished T-5.
Sajulga and ONeal will particiapte in the 2nd Annual Elites Cup Invitational as automatic qualifiers on July 31-Aug 1 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney.
To view photos from the event, view the Bayou Elite Album on the TJGT Flickr Page.