Competition tight as Greatest juniors tee off

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By Todd Franko


The opening event of the 2018 Greatest Golfer of the Valley was settled Sunday by tight battles in the two 17-U juniors divisions. In the 14-U girls play, the 2017 champ is on her way to repeating for 2018.

In play at Pine Lakes Golf Club, Justin Atkinson of Yankee Run Golf Course bested Alex Rapp of The Lake Club by one stroke, 76 to 77, to win 17-U boys.

The Brookfield student carded two birdies on the day and was actually headed for an under-par round before a triple-bogey on 15 cost him that.

Atkinson held on though. It’s a good start following up on an 11th-place finish in last year’s Greatest championship. He said this year will be different.

“I’m definitely on a mission.”

Jacob Snyder of The Lake Club finished in third with an 82.

In the girls 17-U division, Kyra Woods of Tam O’Shanter Golf Course carded an 85 to win by two shots over Jenna Jacobson of Mill Creek Golf Course.

Woods, a sophomore at Hickory High School, is in her second year of Greatest. Birdies on holes 3 and 14 powered her round.

“On No. 3, I hit an iron shot to 10 feet. The putt curved right and in.”

The two players went back and forth all day — right up to No. 18. On the tee box, Woods just tried to keep it simple.

“I just wanted to stay focused on the tee shot. It was a good one.”

Greatest Golfer of the Valley is an all-ages, summer-long series of golf championships produced by The Vindicator and sponsored by Farmers National Bank, Covelli Enterprises and Superior Beverage.

The juniors play leads the event. Then in August, adult scramble championships, long-drive and ladies 2-person events lead up to the 320-player, 54-hole adults tournament. Information for Greatest is on

All winners Sunday earn an automatic seat in the Greatest Golfer junior championship in July at Avalon Lakes and Squaw Creek golf courses.

In the 14-U divisions, Dominic Kapics of Duck Creek Golf Course carded his best Greatest score ever, an 80, to win his division. The Austintown Fitch student birdied the par-4 No. 15 by placing his 100-yard iron shot to 4 feet from the pin for a straight-in birdie.

Second place went to Michael Porter of Avalon Lakes Golf Course, who shot an 81. Kaiden Sykes of Salem Hills Golf Course shot a 91 for third place.

Leah Benson, the 2017 Greatest Golfer 14-U champ, is off to another run in 2018, scoring an 82 to win the u14 girls division.

The Tam O’Shanter and Hickory High School freshman used a strong back nine holes to win. She scored a 39 on the back and 10 total pars on the day.

Second-place went to Alexandra Petrochko of Avalon Lakes, with an 86. Third-place was Jayne Bernard of Mill Creek Golf Course with a 93.

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