MINERAL WELLS -When Austin Root arrived at Woodridge Golf Club for the start of Tuesday's Top Flite Junior Tour, he asked course personnel what score they thought would win the tournament.
Given a target to shoot at, Root finished three strokes below the projected total after turning in the United Bank Low Round of the Day with a 4-under par 67. The 18-year-old golfer actually tied 16-year-old Aaron Persily of Charleston for medalist honors, but Root won by virtue of a scorecard playoff.
"I play pretty well here because it sets up for my game," Root said. "If you can draw the ball, you can score well here. And I have a big draw."
Williamstown golfer Austin Root, right, and playing partner Trent McCutcheon of Washington, get ready to hit their drives at the 12th tee during Tuesday’s Top Flite Junior Tour at Woodridge Golf Club in Mineral Wells. Root earned the United Bank Low Round of the Day after shooting a 4-under-par 67. (Photo by Kerry Patrick)
Root, a Williamstown graduate who will be entering his freshman year at Wheeling Jesuit in the fall, produced a two-shot margin of victory in the 17-18 age group over runner-up Matt O'Hara from Mount Vernon, Ohio by sinking six birdies, including two straight to open the round. His best finish on the Top Flite Junior Tour occurred last week with a third-place showing at Parkersburg Country Club.
Confidence is brewing as Root begins play in today's first round of the West Virginia Open at Edgewood Country Club in Charleston.
"Today was a confidence boost," Root said. "I'm just trying to finish in the top 40 and get exempt for next year."
As for the younger age divisions, golfers from Spencer mopped up in the 13-14 category as twin brothers Cole and Camden Moore finished 1-2.
Cole Moore won for the first time on tour this season by carding an even-par 71. The 14-year-old played the back nine at 4-under 32. He started his round on the fourth hole.
"It was a slow start and a slow end, but I tore it up on the back," Cole Moore said. "It all started with a birdie on No. 12. I smoked a drive down the middle, hit a 5-iron on the green and two-putted.
"Overall, I was 1-under until the second hole then I three-putted from about 10 feet."
Camden Moore, who posted his best score on tour this season since winning with a 73 at Pipestem State Park, tied Alex Hamrick of Red House at 72 then won a two-hole playoff to finish runner-up.
Another Spencer native - Alston Spears - ended in a tie with Seth Vannoy of St. Clairsville, Ohio, for third place in the 15-16 age division after both golfers carded a 75. Alex Shreckengost of Mineral Wells took second with a 73, but it was Persily who established himself as the early clubhouse leader and maintained that edge as the final groups turned in their scorecards.
"I was fortunate - I never got into any bad situations and ended up not making any bogeys," said Persily, who just completed his sophomore year at Charleston Catholic.
In the 12-and-under division, Huntington's Josef Dransfeld shot a 72 and edged Beckley's Isaiah Zaccheo by one stroke for the victory.
The Girls' United Bank Low Round of the Day belonged to 13-year-old Whitney Milhoan of Vienna, who shot an 86. It marked the third time this season on tour that Milhoan, who will be a junior at Jackson Middle School, has earned that honor.