Village native Johnny Burke, a senior at St. Ed’s this year,
was one of just 10 Ohioans to qualify for the prestigious junior
PGA event. Burke shot an +11 for the tourney. (West Life photo
by Matt Thornicroft)
Thompson wins Westfield Tournament
By Matt Pawlikowski
Published July 18, 2007
there is one thing that Chris DeForest can smile about, in addition
to his accomplishment at the 2007 Westfield Junior PGA tournament,
it’s the fact he did something that Tiger Woods never did.
Win the event.
DeForest, 18, who is heading to the University of
Illinois, shot a 10-under, par 274 as the New York State resident
went wire to wire setting marks for lowest total score in the 54-hole
tourney. He just missed besting the 72-hole record by three strokes.
“It was really amazing coming down the final fairway,”
said DeForest. “I’ve tried three times, but never won.”
But for the golf purist, it was the girls side that
provided the best action during the event, which was founded in
Remember this name: Alexis Thompson.
True, she made history by being the youngest to qualify
for the LPGA’s U.S. Open at just 12 years earlier this month. But
her play at Westfield shows that in due time she will be teeing
it up with the best on a regular basis there.
Thompson started off rough, shooting an opening day
75, but rebounded to post a 66 and 69 on the final two days of play.
Still, the championship did not come easy, as she had to fend off
Hawaii’s Kimberly Kim.
Thompson trailed Kim by three shots as they both stepped
on the tee of the 315-yard 12th hole.
She dropped a birdie on No. 12, to cut the lead to two. Then
showing the poise of a veteran, she went on to birdie four of the
next five holes. Her putt on No. 16, a par-3, 143-yard hole, seemed
to give her control of the match.
Faced with a 20-foot putt for a birdie her putter
was like lightning, as the ball fell into the cup. Kim, who had
put her shot about 30-feet from the pin, three putted to fill two
“I was thinking to myself, just make it,” said Thompson.
“My adrenaline started going and you could just see how much further
I got it off the tee. All wins are great, but this one is special.”
Kim, who is 15, said that Thompson, who also has a
brother playing on the Nationwide Tour, gained a lot of believers
throughout the week.
“Alexis earned a lot of respect form the girls out
there,” said Kim.
Bay Village resident Johnny Burke was one of just
10 Ohio players in the tourney. He joined
Northern Sectional girls winner
Katie Jeronivich of Warren, along with Southern Ohio PGA
Section champions Tyler Hawk, Batavia, and Marissa Steen of West
Chester. In addition, six other standout Ohio junior golfers competed,
including Zach Glassman, Highland Heights; John Hahn, Kent; Parker
Hewit, Westfield Center; Allie White, Lancaster; Erin Misheff, Silver
Lake and Justin Lower, Canal Fulton and Katie Jurenovich of Warren.
White had the highest Ohio finish, taking home fifth
with her +5. Hewit also had a +5 for the event, but it was only good enough for
a 15th place tie.
Burke, who won the Sectional qualifier and placed
seventh in the state for St. Edward last year, missed the cut at
Westfield shooting +11, but had a solid even par round of 71 his
final day of the tourney.
The 17-year-old made birdies on Holes 10, 14 and 17. If there was a positive other than playing in the prestigious event
that Burke can take out of Westfield, it’s the fact that he was
tied for tops with DeForest when it came to playing par threes.
Overall, Burke shot
a 77 to open the event and a 76 on the second day.
The Westfield Junior PGA Championship, which has traditionally
produced stellar golf performances for more than three decades,
brings together the best junior golfers to compete for the Jack
Nicklaus Trophy in the boys division and the Patty Berg Trophy in
the girls division champion.
Since 1976, the Championship has been a stepping-stone
for competitors to either collegiate or Tour professional careers.
The list of past Champions includes some of the most prominent current
Tour professionals: Billy Andrade (1981), Billy Mayfair (1982),
2001 PGA Champion David Toms (1984), Sean O’Hair (1998), reigning
U.S. Women’s Open Champion Christie Kerr (1995), Trevor Immelman
(1996), Grace Park (1996), Aree Song (1999, 2000), along with In-Bee
Park (2001, ’02).
What makes the tourney so nice for the players is
the fact that since 2001, Westfield Group Country Club, owned by
title-sponsor Westfield Insurance, has featured the most Tour-like
experience in junior golf for players and attendees. It was almost
like a mini version of the U.S. Open.
Not only were there covered grandstands, roped fairways,
real-time scoring and leader boards, but each day there were also
pairing sheets and, for the golfers, a full-service food court and
game room, not to mention a parent hospitality room.
Just how important is this tourney? There were over
46 college coaches in attendance, with the farthest coaching staff
coming from Denver.
This may be the last year that Westfield has the tourney,
although tour officials would not speculate. But The Club at Olde
Stone Golf Course in Alvaton, Ky. has approached the PGA about taking
over the tourney next year.
“Nothing is official,” said Chris Childers, who is
the PGA junior golf manager and tournament director at Westfield.
“I still have to see the site, and Title sponsorship will play a
role in it.”
An official announcement is not expected until August.