Merkle completes comeback, Sawada prevails in playoff

WAILUKU, Maui — The fifth stop on the 2008 Callaway Golf PGA Junior Series closed in dramatic fashion in both the boys and girls divisions. Jared Sawada of Mililani and Kristina Merkle of Honolulu prevailed victorious down the stretch in the boys and girls divisions respectively.

Leading by three entering the final round, Sawada started the round sluggish and found himself in a battle.

“By the time we made the turn, I was back up by two,” said Sawada, “I just kept telling myself ‘I can still do this,’ and it paid off.”

Sawada and Alika Bell of Kane‘ohe both birdied the 18th hole to force a sudden-death playoff. On the first playoff hole, Sawada converted a par and Bell made bogey. With his victory, Sawada earned an exemption into the 2008 Junior PGA Championship, held August 13 through 16 at TPC Riverbend in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“This just feels really awesome, I haven’t won a tournament in awhile,” said Sawada. “This gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of the summer.”

Merkle trailed by five shots entering the final round and fired a round of 3-under par round of 69 and a three-day total of 215. Highlighting the day was her eagle on the par-5 third, her twelfth hole of the day. Putting from the fringe, Merkle’s 15-foot eagle attempt briefly sat on the lip before dropping in the cup.

“That eagle was huge for me,” said Merkle, “My chipping and putting was great all day but that gave me momentum.”

Cassy Isagawa of Wailuku finished one shot behind Merkle after posting a final round of 3-over par 75 and a three-day total of 216. Isagawa posted the low-round of the tournament with a 6-under par 66 in the second round.

The next leg of the Callaway Golf PGA Junior series will be held at Aspen Valley Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz., June 30 to July 2.

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