It was a wire-to-wire victory for Haley Moore of Escondido, Calif., who posted a final-round 4-under-par 68 to claim a seven-stroke victory. Moore bookended her round with birdies and added four more birdies and two bogeys in between for the lowest girls' round among allage groups. "My goal today was to shoot even-par and play the same way I'd played in the first two rounds," Moore said. She got more than she had hoped for.
Her final total of 4-under-par 212 was seven strokes clear of Michelle Ching Suet Lee of Hong Kong, who finished at 3-over-par 219. Lee bounced back from a double-bogey, bogey start with three birdies and a hole-out from the fairway on No. 17 to post a 2-under-par 70. Kendall Griffin of Sebring, Fla., and Hailey White of Danville, Calif., tied for third place at 7-over-par 223, while Kennedy Swann of Austin, Texas, rounds out the top five at a tournament total of 225.
Mexico's Maria Balcazar entered the final round with a one-stroke lead and protected it with pars on her first nine holes. She slipped with a pair of bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11, but bounced back with three birdies over her final seven holes to earn a three-stroke victory at 2-over-par 218. "I was trying to play for pars today," Balcazar said. "I'm very proud to represent Mexico as a champion."
Balcazar finished three shots clear of Addison Mitchell of Van Buren, Ark., and Gabriella Coello of Venezuela, who tied at 5-over-par 221. Mitchell tied for the best round of the day with a 3-under-par 69, carding five birdies and two bogeys. Coello played a very steady round of even-par 72, recording 16 pars on the day. Megan Munroe of Raeford, N.C., finished in fourth place at 10-over-par 226, and Ana Paula Ramirez of Mexico rounded out the top five at 227.
The Girls 15-18 division came down to the wire, and it was 36-hole leader Kelly Whaley of Farmington, Conn., who held on for a one-stroke victory. Whaley walked off the green on No. 17 in a tie for the lead with playing parter Margine Arguello of Panama. She was able to put her approach on the front of the green, while Arguello missed it to the right. Arguello was unable to get up and down for par, and Whaley calmly two-putted for a par and the victory. She finished at 6-over-par 222 for the tournament.
Yasemin Sari of Kadenbach, Turkey finished in third place at a tournament total of 226. Barbora Chlostova of Prague, Czech Republic, and Valentina Giraldo of Ibague, Colombia, finished fourth and fifth with totals of 228 and 229, respectively.
Playing for par proved to be a worthwhile strategy for Spencer Alexander, as he carded 16 of them in the final round of a one-stroke victory at Pinehurst No. 6. Alexander entered the final round in a tie for the lead at 3-under-par and parred his first nine holes to set the tone on Saturday. "I knew I had to shoot at least 72 to win," Alexander said. "When I birdied No. 15, I knew I'd be good [with pars the rest of the way]."
The aforementioned birdie kept him out of a five-way playoff, as four players tied for second place. Spencer Cross of Sevierville, Tenn., Brian Chen of Cary, N.C., Carlos Marrero of Valencia, Venezuela, and John Pak of Scotch Plains, N.J., all finished at 2-under-par 214, one stroke behind Alexander.
One competition needed more than 54 holes to determine a winner, as Matthew Ruel of Oldsmar, Fla., and Spencer Ralston of Gainesville, Ga., tied at 2-under-par 214 after the final round had concluded. The pair headed to the par-5 17th hole in a sudden-death playoff. After both players split the fairway, Ruel gained an advantage after Ralston found the hazard with his second shot. Ralston played from the hazard over the green, while Ruel set himself up with a tap-in birdie putt. Ralston's birdie chip came remarkably close to going in, but it was Ruel who tapped in for the winning birdie.
Brett Barron of Suwanee, Ga., and Daniel Piceno of Mexico, tied for third place at 1-under-par 215, while Kitwana Ashford of Farmington Hills, Mich., claimed fifth place at even-par 216.
It was a very happy birthday for David Mackey of Bogart, Ga., as the youngest player in the Boys 15-18 field celebrated his 15th birdie with a comeback victory. Beginning his round with a five-shot deficit, he came out with five birdies on a front-nine 31 to pull into the lead. He made a pair of bogeys on the back nine, but they were of no consequence, as Mackey finished at 1-under-par 215, two strokes ahead of the competition. "After the first round [Mackey was tied for 12th place], my dad told me that if I shot under par, I'd be in the final group," Mackey said. "Then [Friday] night, he told me I'd win with a 69. That's exactly what happened."
Benjamin Shipp of Duluth, Ga., fired a 2-under-par 70 Saturday to claim second place at 1-over-par 217. Tyler Moore and Jacob Solomon tied for third place at 2-over-par 218, while Samuel Uhland of Jacksonville, Fla., and Ryan Hager of Weston, Fla., tied for fifth place at 4-over-par 220.
Haley Moore of Escondido, Calif., put up the low round of the day in the Girls 13 age group to increase her lead to four strokes. Moore rode a hot start to a 3-under-par 33 to the front nine, and posted the only under-par round of the day, a 1-under-par 71. She is currently even-par 144 for the event, four strokes clear of Hailey White of Danville, Calif. White shook off a bogey-bogey start and recorded an even-par round of 72. Three players are tied for third place, as Kennedy Swann of Austin, Texas, Kendall Griffin of Sebring, Fla., and Michelle Ching Suet Lee of Hong Kong are each five shots behind Moore at 5-over-par 149.
The gap in the Girls 14 division has narrowed, but Maria Balcazar of Mexico remains in the lead with just 18 holes to play. Balcazar, who entered the round with a three-stroke lead, opened with a double bogey to let the field back in the tournament. She added two birdies and three bogies in her round of 3-over-par 75, and she now sits one stroke ahead of the competition at 2-over-par 146. Megan Munroe of Raeford, N.C., fired a 1-over-par 73 in front of several friends and family that came to Pine Needles Golf Club to cheer on the local favorite. She carded two birdies, a bogey and a double bogey to reach 3-over-par 147 for the tournament. Gabriella Coello of Venezuela will join Balcazar and Munroe in the final group, as she posted a 1-over-par 73 of her own. She is at 5-over-par 149 overall. Four players are tied for fourth place, as Ariadna Fonseca of Bogota, Colombia, Megan Sabol of Martinez, Ga., Addison Mitchell of Van Buren, Ark., and Ana Paula Ramirez of Mexico are tied at 8-over-par 152.
A new leader has emerged in the Girls 15-18 age group, as Kelly Whaley of Farmington, Conn., posted an even-par 72 to move into the lead. Whaley carded three birdies and three bogeys on the day and now sits at 3-over-par 147 for the tournament. She is three strokes clear of Valentina Giraldo of Ibague, Colombia. Giraldo parred her first 13 holes before carding consecutive bogeys to drop to 2-over-par on the day. She then rebounded with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18. Margine Arguello of Panama is in third place at 7-over-par 151, after carding three birdies and five bogeys. First-round leader Yasemin Sari of Kadenbach, Turkey, posted a 79 to drop to fourth place at 152, and Barbora Chlostova of Prague, Czech Republic, is in fifth place at 153.
There is one 36-hole tie atop the leaderboard, and it belongs to the Boys 13 age group. Christian Salzer of Sumter, S.C., and Spencer Alexander of Port Charlotte, Fla., are knotted up at 3-under-par 141. Salzer, who began the day in a tie for 11th place, bounced back from an opening bogey with consecutive birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 and added two more on Nos. 8 and 18 for a 3-under-par 69, the round of the day. Alexander started in a tie for seventh, but rode three birdies and a bogey to a 2-under-par 70. Andrew Walker of Battle Creek, Mich., Carlos Marrero of Valencia, Venezuela, and John Pak of Scotch Plains, N.J., are tied for third place at 2-under-par 142.
A new leader has emerged at Pinehurst No. 8, where Matthew Ruel of Oldsmar, Fla., fired a bogey-free 3-under-par 69 to take a two-stroke lead into the final round. Ruel picked up birdies on Nos. 4 and 13 before adding a final one on No. 18. He is 3-under-par 141, two shots clear of Michael Feagles of Scottsdale, Ariz. Feagles posted an even-par round of 72 with three birdies and three bogeys, and stands at 1-under-par 143 for the tournament. Three are tied for third place, as Daniel Piceno of Mexico, Kitwana Ashford of Farmington Hills, Mich., and Kyle Suppa of Honolulu are each at 1-over-par 145.
Anthony Infante of Miami leapfrogged five players Friday to claim sole possession of the lead in the Boys 15-18 age group. Infante carded five birdies and a bogey on Pinehurst No. 2 to jump from sixth place into first. His 4-under-par 68 gives him a five-stroke lead at 3-under-par 141. Three are tied for second place, as David Mackey of Bogart, Ga., Andres Caballero Perez of Mexico City, and Ryan Hager of Weston, Fla., are at 2-over-par 146. Benjamin Shipp of Duluth, Ga., and Alex Smalley of Wake Forest, N.C., are in a tie for fifth place at 3-over-par 147.
There is a logjam at the top of the Girls 13 leaderboard, as Haley Moore of Escondido, Calif., leads the way with a 1-over-par 73. With 36 holes to play, there are 12 players within five strokes of the lead. Moore started steadily, carding five consecutive pars at the start of her round and adding birdies on Nos. 6 and 8. A late double-bogey ended her hopes to finish in red numbers, but she still holds the lead to herself by one stroke over Kennedy Swann of Austin, Texas, and Ashni Dhruva of Missouri City, Texas. Swann birdied six holes on the day, including five in her first eight holes. Dhruva took a more conventional route to 2-over-par 74, carding three bogeys and a birdie. Swann and Dhruva are used to being tied with one another, as Swann prevailed in a playoff between the two at the USKG Texas State Championship. Moore, Swann and Dhurva will tee off at 8:57 a.m. Friday at Pine Needles Golf Club. Morgan Baxendale of Windermere, Fla., and Michelle Cheng Suet Lee of Hong Kong are tied for fourth place at 3-over-par 75.
A strong International influence can be seen near the top of the Girls 14 leaderboard, as Maria Balcazar of Mexico sits atop the leaderboard at 1-under-par 71. Balcazar finished strong, posting three birdies in her last six holes and totaling four birdies and three bogeys for the day. She is three shots clear of the remainder of the field, as Megan Munroe of nearby Raeford, N.C., is in second place at 2-over-par 74. Munroe was flawless through 11 holes, with two birdies and no blemishes on her card. A few bogeys down the stretch dropped her into second place, but she is well within striking distance with 36 holes to play. Ana Paula Ramirez of Mexico fired a 3-over-par 75 to claim third place to herself overnight. Ramirez took advantage of the par 5s, as she birdied three of the four at Pine Needles. Three players are tied for fourth place, as Gabriella Coello of Venezuela, Nicolette Donovan of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and Addison Mitchell of Van Buren, Ark., each carded a 4-over-par 76.
Yasemin Sari of Kadenbach, Turkey, built a two-stroke lead through 18 holes on Thursday, carding a 1-over-par 73. She was even-par through 16 holes, carding only one birdie and one bogey alongside 14 pars. After a double bogey on No. 17, she bounced back well on the final hole with a birdie to give her lead a small cushion. She will have to fend off a strong charge from the field, as Kelly Whaley of Farmington, Conn., and Barbora Chlostova of Prague, Czech Republic, each posted a 3-over-par 75. Whaley recorded three back-nine birdies to charge into contention, while Chlostova opened her round on fire with three consecutive birdies before cooling off a bit. Daniella Castaneda of Bogota, Colombia, is in fourth place at 4-over-par 76, while Ana Benavides of Mexico, Margine Arguello of Panama, and Joey Mae Walz of Pittsburgh, Pa., share a tie for fifth place at 5-over-par 77.
The lowest round of the day belongs to Drake Mendenhall of Granite Bay, Calif., who fired a bogey-free 4-under-par 68. Mendenhall birdied two of his first three holes and added two more on Nos. 8 and 18 to claim the lead. His lead is far from safe, as scores were low all across Pinehurst No. 6. Nicholas Mejia of Woodstock, Md., and Charlie Dubiel of North Palm Beach, Fla., each recorded a 3-under-par 69. Mejia and Dubiel took similar routes to their score, as they each put together five birdies with only a pair of bogeys. A three-way tie for fourth place rounds out the top five, as Matthew Giombetti of Los Angeles, John Pak of Scotch Plains, N.J., and Ryan Wong of Kuala Lampur, Singapore, each carded 2-under-par 70s. It's still anyone's game, as 30 people are within six shots of the lead.
The Boys 14 age group is no less competitive than Boys 13, as 43 players are within seven strokes of the lead. Landon Weber of Bonita Springs, Fla., and Kitwana Ashford of Farmington Hills, Mich., lead the way with a pair of 2-under-par 70s. Weber, starting on the back nine, birdied No. 16 and eagled No. 2 to get to 3-under-par. His only blemish of the day came on No. 7. Ashford, who finished in second place at the 2011 Teen World Championship, bogeyed Nos. 11 and 9, but carded four birdies and 11 pars in between. Kyle Suppa of Honolulu and Michael Feagles of Scottsdale, Ariz., are one shot back after finishing at 1-under-par 71. Each player posted four birdies and three bogeys on their card. Devan Prabhakar of Dallas, A.J. Ott of Plano, Fort Collins, Colo., Matthew Ruel of Oldsmar, Fla., and Dillon Baxter of Austin, Texas, are all tied for fifth place at even-par.