The Thornblade Junior Classic is the most popular event on the South Carolina Junior Golf Association’s schedule.
As the most popular championship it is very often the most competitive as the best players from all over South Carolina come to the Upstate.
It is not unusual for the winners to need a playoff to claim the top spot or for the leader board to show a one shot victory.
This year The Blade was different. Two golfers ran away from the field to post impressive wins in the tournament played at the Thornblade Club.
Chloe Holder from Williamston and William Jennings from Greenville blitzed the girls and boys fields respectively to earn impressive wins by wide margins.
Holder, who had played in the tournament every year since she was 10, opened the championship with a 3-under par 69 and followed it up with a second round 4-under par 68.
Her two day total of 7-under par 137 earned the future Georgia Southern golfer a six shot win.
On the boys side of the event, William Jennings continued his fine play this summer with an even bigger winning margin.
The Christ Church High School golfer shot an opening round 6-under par 65 and followed it up with a 3-under par 68.
His two day total of 9-under par 133 was 7-shots better than the runner-up.
Jennings probably wrapped up the tournament in the first three holes of the final round.
“I did get off to a really good start making birdies on the first three holes,” said Jennings. “I lipped out another birdie on the fourth hole so I was feeling pretty confident,” he said.
Jennings gained most of his advantage over the field on the first nine holes. In the opening round he carded a 31 with two birdies and an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole.
In the second round he left everyone else playing for second place after posting a 5-under par 30 on the front.
“I like to know how I stand so I can decide if I want to try to hit a risky shot. I knew I was in the lead so I tried one on number five,” he said.
Jennings wasn’t able to match his first round tap-in eagle on the hole, instead his approach shot got wet and he had to scramble for a good par save.
“I knew I had a seven or eight shot lead on the back nine. About the only place I changed up what I did from the first round was on the last hole. Instead of hitting a driver, I hit a 3-wood off the tee and a 4-iron into the green,” he recalled.
The 14-year old high school freshman never blinked while leading a field that included state champions, CGA champions and a handful of golfers already committed to play in college.
After several near misses this summer Jennings was due for a win.
“I shot 11-under par at the Future Masters and finished second. I had a top-five in the Harold Varner AJGA tournament and another good finish at the North and South in Pinehurst. I’ve been playing against really good players all summer so it didn’t bother me. It was nice to finally get a win,” he said.
In the girl’s championship Holder’s opening round included five birdies an eagle and four bogeys. The end result was a tie with Alexia Shiel from Fort Mill for the lead.
Holder bogeyed her first hole in the second round to give up her share of the lead, at least for a few holes. She did not allow a rough start to affect the way she would play the next 17 holes.
“I learned a lot last year. When I won, I just stuck to my own game and didn’t worry about what everyone else was doing,” she said.
It was a formula that helped her win the CGA major Vicki Disantis championship last year along with the WSCGA Junior championship, the AAAA South Carolina High School championship and the Orange Jacket title.
Holder birdied her fourth, eighth and ninth hole to get the lead.
Calling on her experience from playing at Thornblade over the years, Holder was able to place her shots into the big greens in the right spot on almost every hole.
“These greens are so big and they have so many breaks you have to be on the right side of the stick if you hope to get a birdie. I put a lot of my approach shots in the right places today,” she added.
Holder added two birdies on the back nine to post a 68 and add another important tournament title to her resume.
“This is the last year I could play in The Blade and it is great to finish up here with a win. This is a favorite tournament of mine and I’m really happy to play and win,” Holder said.
The victory keeps Holder in the running to achieve her season long goal. To be the Beth Daniel Junior Girls Player of the Year.
“No question that is a goal. I would love to add that to the other good things I’ve accomplished before I finish playing Junior golf,” she said.
After Holder the rest of the girls field was bunched up. Isabella Britt from Chesnee shot an even par second round to move into a second place tie with Siehl.
Greenville’s Sarah Boteler had the second best final round with a 1-under par 71 to move up to fifth place.
Finishing in a tie for the runner-up spot in the boys championship was Rowan Sullivan from Charleston and Major Lenning from Simpsonville.
Sullivan put together two rounds of 70 to finish tied with Lenning for second.
Daniel Brasington from Woodruff matched Jennings 3-under par 68 in the final round to finish in fourth place.
The most impressive final round was turned in by Andrew Gregory. The Boiling Springs golfer had seven birdies on the day including two birdies on the difficult par 3 holes at Thornblade to finish fifth.
Will Ruth won the boys 10-12 year old division title. The Woodruff golfer shot a 3-under par 69 to finish in front of Dawson Szabo from Greer.
In the young girls division Carolina Hawkins from Columbia shot a 75 to win the championship over Julie Waldo from Salem who finished second.
Complete Scores available at https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga20/event/scjga209/contest/9/leaderboard.htm