Nicole Morales talked herself into making a long birdie putt on the final hole of the AJGA’s prestigious Thunderbird International Junior, then celebrated another noteworthy win on Monday after Ashlan Ramsey burned the edge.
The 16-year-old from South Salem closed with a 69 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., capturing the championship with a 5-under 211 total.
Ramsey, a high school senior from Milledgeville, Ga. who is heading for Clemson in the fall, birdied the 16th to move into the lead, then dropped a shot at the next hole. She hit a wedge into the par-5 last inside 20 feet. Morales followed and wound up 35 feet from the hole.
“I knew that I had to put some pressure on Ashlan or she was going to make that putt,” said Morales, who has committed to play for Alabama. “I told myself over the ball, ‘Nicole, you’ve made so many clutch putts this week, you can make one more.’ There were like 100 people watching between the back of the green and the restaurant there, and went the putt dropped, it was like the Fourth of July.”
There wasn’t any room to breathe easy the entire round.
“It really was a death match,” said Morales, who hit every fairway on Monday and only had one three putt in three rounds. “She made me earn the win. It was probably one of the best rounds I’ve ever played.”
Morales, a junior at John Jay who plays out of GlenArbor Golf Club, will be attempting to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open on Thursday at Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, N.J. That also happens to be her 17th birthday.
(Photo courtesy of the AJGA)