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All in the Family

Bryant, Schalk -- two teenage children of PGA general managers -- go wire-to-wire for titles at Colorado Junior PGA

by Gary Baines - 6/14/2017

It worked out altogether fittingly.

Two teenage kids whose fathers are Colorado PGA general managers earned the titles Wednesday in the Colorado Junior PGA Championship, the first major of the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado's 2017 season.

Davis Bryant of Aurora, son of Green Valley Ranch Golf Club GM Matt Bryant, prevailed by two strokes for the boys championship at Eisenhower Golf Club's Blue Course at the Air Force Academy.

And Hailey Schalk of Erie, daughter of Colorado National Golf Club GM Matt Schalk, rolled to an 11-stroke victory in the girls tournament.

It was the first win in a JGAC major for Bryant, a 17-year-old senior-to-be at Eaglecrest High School who has verbally committed to play his college golf at Colorado State University.

It was JGAC major victory No. 2 for Schalk, a 15-year-old who won the Colorado Junior Match Play last year. The Colorado Junior PGA continues a stellar 2017 season for the Holy Family High School student, who last month became the first freshman since 2002 to win a Colorado girls state high school title, then followed that up by becoming the first Coloradan to earn a championship at the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior by Transamerica.

"This is a really good accomplishment and it's sponsored by the PGA and my dad is a PGA pro," Schalk noted. "So it's good for me to win this tournament and it's special for me. And it's really cool for me to win a major, especially early on this year even if I don't win the other ones."

Both Bryant and Schalk (pictured above) led wire-to-wire at Eisenhower.

Bryant (left), a 2015 U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier and a member of the Colorado Junior America's Cup teams in both 2015 and '16, won by two in the boys division despite a three-putt bogey on his final hole. He shot a 1-over-par 73 Wednesday to post a 1-under 215 total.

"It's definitely the biggest event that I've won," said Bryant, who claimed a JGAC Tour title last month at Todd Creek, where he shot 65-67 and prevailed by nine. "The course (at Eisenhower) is hard. It's always a good test. Your game has to be on at every hole. Fortunately this week it was for me. That makes it so much bigger. You have to be spot-on for 54 holes. To shoot 1 under par over a span of 54 holes is pretty good."

Dillon Stewart of Fort Collins was the only serious challenger to Bryant on Wednesday. After starting the day three back, the 16-year-old cut the deficit to two on three occasions in the final round, but could get no closer. He carded a final-day 72 for a 217 total, placing second for the second straight year in a JGAC major at Eisenhower.

"I played pretty good," Stewart said. "I got the most out of my game for sure because I wasn't hitting it too great and wasn't putting that great. There were a couple of holes I wish I could have done better and gotten a couple back on Davis. It's just hard to catch him; he was playing so good today -- and this whole week."

By finishing 1-2, Bryant and Stewart qualified for the national Junior PGA Championship at the Country Club of St. Albans near St. Louis, set for July 31-Aug. 3.

The last surge by Stewart (left) came when he made a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 15 to trim Bryant's lead to two again. But Bryant responded by two-putting from 60 feet for birdie on the par-5 16th to go back up by three. Then after Stewart got up and down from over the green on 17, sinking a 15-footer from the fringe for par, Bryant drained a 10-foot par putt on top of him after being in a greenside bunker.

"Those were huge," Bryant said. "He made that great par putt and I was like, 'I've got to bear down and make my par putt too to keep it a three-shot lead going into the last hole."

Bryant has taken a liking to the Eisenhower Blue course after finishing third at 4-under 212 in a national PGA Junior Series event at the venue last July, then winning on Wednesday.

"I have a lot of confidence going back to last year on the course," he said. "I like the golf course. The greens are tough, it's a good test. It kind of finds the best players over three days and you have to play your best. Every part of your game has to be on, and this week it was. I hit the ball very well, I putted excellent."

Placing a distant third on Wednesday -- in a four-way tie at 227 -- were Calvin McCoy of Highlands Ranch, Jack Hughes of Aspen, Jack Castiglia of Lakewood and Michael Perea of Arvada.

In the girls tournament, Schalk (left) entered the final round with a nine-stroke lead. Charlotte Hillary of Cherry Hills Village made a small run by going 2 under par on the front nine, cutting the deficit to five. But Schalk built the advantage to 11 with her 4-foot birdie on No. 18. She finished with a 3-over-par 75 on Wednesday, leaving her at 6-over 222 overall.

Suffice it to say Schalk has had a stellar spring, with the wins in the 3A state high school meet, the AJGA and the first major of the JGAC season.

"It makes me feel real good just because I've been working so hard," she said. "All the practice that I do is actually working and everything is coming together. It's really cool for me to be able to win all these big tournaments. It's a little bit of a groove (I've been in). I've been more consistent lately.

"But this is a hard course. I was just trying to play the best I could. I didn't make as many putts as I wanted to today, but I played solid all week."

Jaclyn Murray of Grand Junction, a recent Regis Jesuit High School graduate who will play collegiately at the University of Colorado as a walk-on, placed second at 233 after a closing 74. By earning the runner-up spot, Murray joined Schalk in qualifying for the national Junior PGA Championship, which in the case of the girls will also be held at St. Albans, but on July 18-21.

"I thought (second) was reachable last night when I was looking at the scores," said Murray, a two-time Colorado Girls Junior America's Cup player who has been runner-up in the 2015 CWGA Junior Match Play and placed fourth in the Colorado Junior PGA last year. "I just had a goal of having fun and enjoying my round because I wanted to have a really good mental game. I think my mental game really helped me out, so I was happy with the way I played."

Hillary (left), the JGAC Tour Championship winner in 2016, finished third for the second straight year in the Colorado Junior PGA Championship. She posted a 234 total after three straight 78s.

For scores from the Colorado Junior PGA, click on the following: BOYS, GIRLS.

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