It doesn’t just seem like winners of important junior tournaments, or maybe any tournaments are getting younger, they really are getting younger.
The Harvey Brock Orange Jacket Classic played at Boscobel in Pendleton often has been won by junior golfers who had a resume of top performances and added a win at the Orange Jacket to solidify their place as an up and coming young player.
This year a pair of junior golfers, who were closer to the minimum age, 13, to play in the older age group, than the maximum age 18 to play in the championship, took home the Orange Jacket trophies and they are both just 8th graders.
Bennett Scaletta, from Belton, needed two extra holes before he could claim the boys 13-18 year old championship with a playoff win over Gabe Schmitz from Okati.
Mia Carles, from Clinton, won the girls 13-18 age group championship by three shots over Olivia Ireland from Inman and Bridget Wilkie from Bluffton.
The first hole in one recorded by the home schooled 8th grader had a lot to do with her victory.
“It was pretty exciting. I had my first hole-in-one on my first hole of the day, so I think that gave me some momentum,” said Carles.
She used a pitching wedge to ace the 120 yard par 3 10th hole to help her shoot a tournament best 3-under par 68 in the first round.
Carles was the only golfer in the two-day tournament to post a round in the 60s.
“My putting was really good yesterday (first round). The course is in great condition, especially the greens, and that helped my putting,” she said.
Her second round score was a 5-over par 76, but only a half dozen golfers did better and only Wilkie, who started the final round tailing by 8-shots, was able to make up enough ground to apply a little pressure to the tournament winner.
The victory was the second in a row in a SCJGA event. In August, Carles was her age group winner in Rock Hill at the Thomas D. Todd All-Star championship.
“It feels great to be the champion, I learned a lot this weekend and know this win is going to help my future,” she said.
Three golfers tied for fourth place.
Ansley Bryson from Seneca, Maddie Peake from Pauline and Xinyan Li from Waxhaw, NC all finished at 6- over par for the 36 hole tournament.
Scaletta wins Boys title in a playoff
Scaletta, who also is a home schooled 8th grader, opened the tournament with a 1-under par 70 to trail the three golfers tied for the lead by 2-shots.
Starting the second round, the three first round leaders struggled on their front nines opening the door for Scaletta.
With birdies on his first two holes and another on number 9, Scaletta took over the lead.
“It is crazy thinking that I’m playing against the top players in the state,” said Scaletta. “They hit the ball 50 to 75 yards further than I do and I’m able to compete with them. I’m happy about that,” he said.
Playing a couple of groups in front of the Belton junior, Schmitz matched Scaletta’s three front nine birdies and added two more, with a bogey to tie.
When Schmitz birdied his final hole, he took the clubhouse lead at 4-under par.
Scaletta made a 15 foot par putt on his final hole to match Schmitz at 4-under par and send the tournament into a playoff.
The ninth hole was picked for the playoff and both golfers made easy pars the first time they played the hole.
The second time was much different.
Schmitz crushed his drive on the drive-able par-4. His shot stopped in the center of the green, 35 feet above the hole.
Scaletta’s drive didn’t make the green, but from the fringe he pitched his second shot to within 15 feet.
Schmitz lagged his putt to within six feet of the hole, leaving Scaletta to believe he needed to get one more good putt from his good putting round.
“When his putt got within six feet I was telling myself, you are going to have to make this one,” he said.
Taking only a quick glance at the line, Scaletta stepped into the putt and drilled it, center cup.
“I had been making putts like that all day and that one was no different. I put a good stroke on it and it went right in the middle,” Scaletta said.
Schmitz 6-footer raced by the high side of the hole and Scaletta had won his first South Carolina Junior Golf Association major event.
The win at “The Bell” could either be considered the cap to the summer golf season that saw Scaletta claim a win and two second place finishes in SCJGA Summer Hootie Series events.
Or playing with the big kids in the older division, Scaletta finished 40th in both the Grant Bennett and Jimmy Self Invitational and 43rd in the state junior and 48th in the state AAAAA high school championship to start his move up into bigger and older competition.
His ranking at number 75 in the state certainly will go up dramatically after this win.
“It means a lot to win, I know I’m young and I knew one of these was coming (a win), but I didn’t know when. I guess today was the day. My putter got hot on the back nine and it was my time,” said Scaletta.
It is believed, with Scaletta’s young age, he is now the youngest winner of the Orange Jacket championship.
Matt NeSmith, who won the title in 2009 and went on to earn All-American honors and win the SEC individual championship while playing at South Carolina.
NeSmith has gone on to play on the PGA Tour along with the 2012 winner Andrew Novak and just recently the 2011 winner Carson Young earned his PGA Tour Card.
First round co-leader Richardson missed the playoff by two-shots and finished third. OT Mitchell, from Rock Hill, was fourth.
Tag Graziano from Hilton Head tied with four other golfers for fifth place, but his 5-under pr 66 in the final round was the best score of the tournament.
Jack Coleman from Aiken finished 3 shots ahead of Woods Weston from Columbia for the Boys 12 and under championship.
AC Peake from Pauline took home the championship in the girls 12-and under division.
The tournament is played each year in honor of Harvey Brock. The longtime Boscobel professional passed away in 2014, but during a long career as an instructor, Brock helped countless juniors develop their game either to enjoy golf recreationally or as a profession.
Scores from the Harvey Brock Orange Jacket Invitational https://scjga.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/scjga22/event/scjga2218/contest/5/leaderboard.htm