published Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Top juniors still visit WindStone

Many of the participants in the Ringgold Junior Telephone Junior All-Star tournament were learning that 3+7=10 when the American Junior Golf Association event began.

The Junior Classic, which began as the RTC Junior Classic, turns 10 years old today at WindStone.

"It's continued to grow even though it was a little different when we started, because the oldest kid here this year is 16," tournament chairman Phil Erli said. "For a while we were a little concerned about the future of this event, but we are now on solid footing.

"The AJGA has been a good partner for us."

For a decade it has provided junior golfers an opportunity to impress college coaches, earn tournament experience, learn the game and improve their games.

Tournament alumni include Brooke Pancake, who sank the NCAA championship winning putt for Alabama last month, and for 2011 NCAA medalist Austin Ernst. They're set to represent the USA in the Curtis Cup this weekend in Scotland.

Four Chattanooga-area golfers earned sponsor's exemptions into the 2012 tournament, and they would like to follow in the footsteps of successful predecessors such as Pancake -- either in the 54-hole tournament beginning today or down the road in their amateur careers.

Ben Rebne of Ringgold, Oliver Simonsen of Ooltewah and Katherine Holmes of Signal Mountain will be playing in this event for the first time.

"This is a huge tournament, almost like a PGA tournament with things roped off," said Rebne, an AJGA first-timer. "I'd like to get in the top 10. That would make me really happy."

Chattanoogan Scott Stevens is a veteran compared to most of the field. He's playing in this event for the third time after finishing in a tie for 15th last year and 72nd in 2010.

"I get to represent Chattanooga," said Stevens, a sophomore at Chattanooga Christian School. "If I play well, it feels like I'm doing it for Chattanooga and for Ringgold."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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