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Family affair

Grier grinds to early lead, keeps WACO title

Grier grinds to early lead, keeps WACO title

August 08, 2006|by TIM KOELBLE

Alicia Grier seized early momentum with a hot putter and then held off late charges on the back nine to keep the WACO Junior Golf Championship title in her family.

The Smithsburg prep star birdied two of the first three holes on Monday and finished with an even-par 72, holding off Williamsport's Andrew Duff by two strokes and St. James' Kim Eaton by three in the season finale at Beaver Creek Country Club.

The victory not only followed up on sister Andrea Grier's accomplishment of last season, but was also Alicia Grier's second straight crown, having won the Junior Masters last week.

"To shoot par or under is my goal," said Grier. "I'm very excited about the win and now I want to go and do well in the Tri-State."

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The Tri-State Juniors have two tournaments remaining, including the season championship Aug. 21 at Fountain Head.

Grier, Duff and Eaton each received a $500 scholarship from the WACO Junior Golf Association. In addition, Grier claimed the WACO Player of the Year title, her second straight first-place finish.

"I couldn't have asked for more than to be (player of the year)," said Grier. "I wish I would have done better on the Junior Masters, but now my goal will be to get under par in the last two Tri-States."

Grier started ablaze with a birdie on the par-4 306-yard opening hole by knocking down a 20-foot putt. On the par-3 125-yard No. 3, Grier canned a 25-foot putt and pulled out to a big lead early.

Eaton, playing in the same group with Grier, started slowly and was three over after the first two holes. Duff, one group ahead, fell four behind with a double-bogey six on the par-4 No. 4.

Neither would consider themselves out of contention by the turn, despite another birdie by Grier on the par-5 ninth hole when she reached the green in two and had a tap-in birdie putt.

Grier stumbled a bit with bogeys on 15 and 17 to fall back to even par. Duff, who birdied No. 12 after a bogey on 11, picked up a stroke on Grier when he birdied No. 15.

He had a chance to pull even on 17, Beaver Creek's No. 1 handicap hole, a par-4 at 325 yards. Duff stiffed his iron approach within six feet of the pin, but his birdie effort stopped short of the cup by one inch.

"I hit it good, but missed by this much," said Duff, holding two fingers one inch apart.

Eaton had three birdies on the back nine, including a chip-in on 17 to close with a 35.

"I hit the ball well .... just couldn't make any birdie putts on the back nine," said Grier.

Matt Weber struggled most of his round with an 87, but he had the hole of the day when he posted an eagle on the par-5 480-yard 15th with a chip-in from 20 feet.

The Junior Championship kicked off a week-long schedule of activities leading up to the WACO Championship Saturday and Sunday.

The Chi-Chi's qualifier is today at 5:30, followed by Wednesday's Pro-Am at 11 a.m. hosted by Dirk Schultz, Thursday's Chi-Chi's Shootout at 5:30, Friday's "Big Daddy" Long Drive at 5 p.m. and Saturday's Cree Shootout and Expedited Putting contest following the completion of the first round.

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