Junior Golf

Gregory and Fernandez take tourney wins at The Blade

By Jed Blackwell, Associate Editor – Publisher, The Golf Club

Just when The Blade Junior Golf Classic seemed decided, some drama broke out on the back nine at Thornblade on Thursday.

Andrew Gregory from Boiling Springs won The Blade Championship for his second big summer win. Last year Gregory won the CGA Hope Valley Invitational. This year he was a member of the 2022 Watson Cup team as well as helping the Bulldogs to the state AAAAA team championship. (GolfClub Photo bt Gwinn Davis Media)

Boiling Springs’ Andrew Gregory held off Greenville’s Tip Price for a three-shot victory at three-over-par for the tournament, but not before a huge challenge fell just short.

“I made a lot of pars,” Gregory said. “That’s what really kind of kept it going today. I wasn’t hitting the ball the best, but I made a bunch of clutch putts, and that’s what kept me in it.”

Standing on the tee at No. 14, Gregory found himself up six shots on Price, his nearest competitor. Price had just made double-bogey on the par-4 13th, and didn’t think much of his chances.

“I thought that put me out of it,” he said.

But Price went birdie-birdie over the next two holes, Gregory went par-double, and suddenly the six-shot lead was down to two and the pressure was on.

Gregory responded. He made pars on the 16th and 17th, and his bogey at 18 was no harm, as Price made double bogey at the last.

“Those two holes kind of gave me some hope, but Andrew played really well down the stretch and didn’t give me a chance,” Price said. “We’re good friends, so it was fun to play with him. We were trash talking and joking around out there. It was a fight, but it was fun.”

“Tip’s an awesome player,” Gregory said. “I love playing with him.”

Gregory said Thornblade’s condition, including Sunday BMW Tournament pin placements, paired with overcast, breezy conditions made Thursday’s round quite a test.

“This course is great, and today it was so hard,” he said. “The wind didn’t really blow much the first two days, but today it got us a little bit. And those pins were so tough it was just hard to hit it close.”

Gregory’s putter not only saved the day, it was the part of his game he credited with his wire-to-wire win.

“I made a lot of good putts this week,” he said. “I wasn’t really hitting it that close. I just made a lot of good putts.”

In the girls’ tournament, Bluffton’s Anna Fernandez saved the best for last, shooting a one-under 70, her best round of the tournament, to finish at four-over, 11 shots better than Roebuck’s Abby Franks.

Hilton Head’s Anna Fernandez lef The Blade Junior wire to wire. Fernandez earlier in the summer won the Upstate Junior at Smithfields.

“I was going in with a two-stroke lead, and I was just making sure I was keeping a steady momentum,” she said. “I wanted to make it really simple, just sticking with fairways and greens. I’m really proud that I was able to do that, and I left myself so many birdie chances. Unfortunately, I lipped out a bunch of them. At the end of the day, I still got the job done.”

A par save kept the red number on the card for Fernandez on Thursday.

She fired at the flag on No. 18 to set up yet another birdie try, but a slick, side-hill putt wouldn’t fall and the ball carried 15 feet past the hole, almost off the green.

Fernandez calmly made the comeback putt to save her 4 and remain under par on the day.

“The greens are like glass, but it’s on me that the first one went too far,” she said. “I wanted to finish well in front of the gallery, but it was also just me and my golf. I wanted to block everything out. At the end of the day, I was trying to shoot the lowest score possible for the day, and it was good to be able to make that putt coming back.”

The Blade Junior benefits from a dedicated group of volunteers who meet very often to plan for each year’s event. Rob Reeves, (c) and this group of volunteers and several more are already planning for next year’s championship when the event celebrates its 25th anniversary. (SCJGA Photo)

The Blade Final scoring for the Boys and Girls 13-18 age groups https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga22/event/scjga2213/contest/1/leaderboard.htm

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