Werner survives, wins title at junior tourney

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Jackson 13-year-old captured the Gateway PGA Junior Series division crown by four strokes.

The Gateway Section PGA Junior Series championships event was survival of the fittest.

"It was really hot," said Tanner Werner of Jackson, who competed in the 12- and 13-year-old boys division in the series' season-ending championships event at Crystal Springs Quarry Golf Club in Maryland Heights, Mo. "I just drank a lot of water and Gatorade, and we sat in the shade every chance we got.

"I know for sure one person was taken off in an ambulance, and another five or six withdrew because of the heat."

Werner survived.

And he won.

The 13-year-old added to his summer of success by topping the 12-13 boys 18-hole division. His two-day, 36-hole score was an 8-over-par 150, four strokes better than runner-up Scott Hamel of Chesterfield, Mo.

Competing in the junior tour championship for the first time, Werner bettered his opening-day 76 with a 74 on Tuesday.

He played in the final foursome that included Hamel, who had rounds of 76 and 78; and Teddy Jones, who had the lead Monday with a 75 but shot an 85 on Tuesday.

"I was up by two shots after two holes," Werner said. "I parred both and the leader started double-bogey, bogey. He had a real tough day. He's one of my buddies, and he didn't play very well."

Werner did for the most part. He had a bobble on the back nine with a double-bogey and bogey that trimmed his lead to two strokes with three holes to play, but he took the strokes right back on the 16th with a par while Hamel recorded a double-bogey.

"I was hoping to go in and place in the top three," said Werner, who has had top tourney finishes in his age group of fourth in the Little People's event in Quincy, Ill., and was third in the Missouri Junior Amateur in Springfield, Mo. "I played well."

Other locals also posted some top finishes at the event:

* Eric Hayes of Cape Girardeau, playing in the same divison as Werner, had rounds of 78-83 and finished all alone in sixth place with a 161.

* Brett Slaten of Kelso tied for fifth place in the boys 14 and 15 18-hole division with a 161 total. Slaten had shot a 77 on the opening day and was one shot off the lead but followed with an 84.

"The first day was pretty good," said Slaten, heading into his sophomore season at Notre Dame after qualifying for the Class 3 state meet this past spring. "The second day, I was even par after the first 10 holes. The last eight, it just fell apart totally."

The heat "was pretty bad," said Slaten, who added that keeping sweat off his hands to grip the clubs was the biggest challenge.

* Emily Matthews of Cape Girardeau placed fifth among the 16 to 19 18-hole division for girls with a 205 total. She had rounds of 110 and 95.

* T.J. Smith of Jackson posted rounds of 79-82 for a 161 in the boys 16 to 19 Tour divison. He finished 14 strokes off the lead but only nine out of second place.

* Jack Connell had rounds of 80 and 89 to finish at 169 in the same division.

His father, Dalhousie Golf Club director of golf Jack Connell, said after Monday's round: "I was hot just watching."

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