The rain shortened Scott Robertson Memorial Junior Golf Tournament was halved in length this weekend due to persistent rain that had Roanoke Country Club looking more suitable as a yacht club on Friday morning.
But, once the skies cleared enough for 27 holes of competition, there was no shortage of excitement.
Sunday afternoon, Agustina Gomez Cisterna got things started in the Girls 15-18 championship when she held off Oklahoman Yujeong Son in a two-hole playoff to win the 35th annual event. The two players traded birdies on the first extra hole before Cisterna carded a routine par on the second hole where Son bogeyed. Both had finished with a minus-3, 27-hole score of 104.
Cisterna, a member of the Florida-based IMG Academy, was all smiles after her first trip to Roanoke Country Club.
“It was my first time here and I was hoping for dry conditions,” Cisterna said with a huge grin after accepting the championship trophy. “But, I’m glad it turned out like this. With all the rain there was no practice, but my putting was strong both days. This is definitely my biggest win. It will do wonders.”
IMG Academy coach Luke Cantelo, who accompanied 7 IMG players to Roanoke, agreed.
“This is very satisfying and will be a huge confidence builder for Agustina,” Cantelo noted. “She’s a good player who has shown steady progress. She’ll keep training because she wants to attend college in the U.S. This win will put her on notice with college coaches.”
Missing the playoff by one shot were Virginia Tech recruit Alyssa Montgomery and Valery Plata of Columbia.
In the Boys 15-18, Richmond’s Connor Johnson became the first Virginia player to win the Robertson since 1992. Johnson snuck in the back door on the inward nine Sunday while leader Akshay Bhatia, playing in the final threesome, was looking set to be the comfortable winner. Johnson made the turn at even par, then birdied Dogwood holes 11, 13 and 15 to go with a bogey at the tough par-3 16th to finish Sunday’s round at minus-2, 69, and 27-hole total of minus-4.
Bhatia, a lefty who was ranked 11th in the nation, was in great shape at minus-5 with four holes to play despite bogeys at numbers 10 and 11. But, Bhatia 3-putted from 20 feet on the par-4 15th, then after a miraculous flop shot over the right-side bunker at the par-3 16th led to a tap-in par, he bogeyed the par-5 17th, opening the door for Johnson.
Joining Bhatia at minus-3 in a 4-way tie for second were Christopher Sperrazza, Peter Fountain and Manning Sloop.
In the girls 14-under, Molly Smith posted a final round 73, good for a 4-shot victory over Kill Devil Hill, NC up-and-comer Katherine Schuster. In the boys 14-under, Floridian Dean Greyserman shot a final round 69 for a 6-stroke win over Josh Ryan and David Stanford.
It was the second year in a row the Robertson has been affected by rain, but something the tournament committee was ready to tackle.
“The weather kept looking bad and we talked about the options,” tournament co-chairman Mack McClung pointed out Sunday as the skies turned sunny for the finish. “No practice rounds on Thursday, then Friday was rained out. The practice driving range at Lakeside was a crowed place, believe me. Our course superintendent did a great job getting several of the holes ready and picking out the pin placements. It was important to make it a 27-hole tournament. The kids wanted to play and everyone was so understanding throughout it all.”