Maumelle golfers will be among the favorites in the Arkansas State Golf Association Junior Match Play Championship at Eagle Hill in Little Rock this week.
It is the final junior designated event of the season.
Ryan Spurlock, 16, has already clinched the ASGA’s Junior Boys Player of the Year award, but he retains lofty ambitions for the 46th Junior Boys Match.
"My goal this summer was just to make the Arkansas Cup team," Spurlock said. "I never thought about Player of the Year. It’s a great feeling. But my goal this week is to win the Match Play. That’s all I want to do."
Taylor Loeb, 16, who won two ASGA tournaments last week, is on a hot streak entering the 16th Junior Girls Match Play Championship.
"This is the best summer I’ve ever played golf," she said Sunday. "I feel pretty confident. Match play is a different type of game. Anything can happen. I’m pretty familiar with the course, so I’m going to try to shoot my average, 75 or 76, and hope that will get me top seeding."
She lost in the semifinals last year.
Qualifying for the 64-player boys bracket and 32-player girls bracket was Monday. Double rounds of match play continued Tuesday and Wednesday, with the boys semifinals and championship match and the girls championship match scheduled for Thursday.
As the defending champions, Casey Ott of Conway and Peyton Wilhoit of Searcy were exempt from qualifying and automatically the top seed in each bracket.
The winners will earn 250 points toward Player of the Year. Runners-up will receive 175; semifinalists will get 125.
At press time, the boys standings (which did not include results from the Greers Ferry Junior Stroke) showed Spurlock with 594.5 points, ahead of Garrett May of Hope with 430. May is not playing in the Junior Match.
The girls standings showed Elizabeth Moon of Forrest City with 648, followed by Josie Roberson of Maumelle, 490. Maumelle’s Allie Weiner was fourth with 361; Loeb was eighth with 220. Hannah Bakalekos of Sherwood was ninth with 219.
Maumelle’s Taylor Loeb won both the Randy Beaver Memorial Junior Championship at Rolling Hills Country Club in Cabot and the Greers Ferry Junior Stroke at Red Apple Inn in Heber Springs last week.
At Cabot, Loeb shot 74-71—145 to take a five-stroke win over Casey Ott of Conway (78-72—150). Josie Roberson of Maumelle was third with 78-76—154. Other local results included Allie Weiner of Maumelle, sixth with 80-77—157; Hannah Bakalekos of Sherwood, eighth with 79-79—158; and Lauren Loeb of Maumelle, 10th with 82-86—168.
At Red Apple Inn, she fired 81-79—160. Her second round included a triple-bogey on the 18th, so she sees room for improvement. Elizabeth Moon of Forrest City finished second with 81-82—163.
Earlier this summer, Loeb won the inaugural Arkansas Women’s Golf Association Junior Match Play Championship and finished 10th in the American Junior Golf Association’s Stacy Lewis Junior Open at Lot Springs Golf and Athletic Club in Rogers.
Ryan Spurlock of Maumelle, aiming for his third consecutive ASGA win, finished runner-up in both tournaments last week. He fell at Cabot in a two-hole playoff against Tripp Croom of Russellville and finished second to Miles Smith of Little Rock at Heber Springs.
At Cabot, Spurlock shot 72-69—141 in regulation; Croom stood at 71-70—141. Croom, who nailed a 40-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to force extra holes, two-putted for birdie on the second playoff hole after both parred the first.
"That was one of my favorite rounds of golf I’ve played in two or three years," Spurlock said of the second round, where he was paired with Croom. "We made so many birdies. It was fun playing so aggressive. It felt like a match play round."
Despite the loss, he said he wasn’t upset.
"After a 69, I wasn’t mad," he said.
At Red Apple Inn, he shot 75 in the first round — his first trip over the course — and bettered that to 73 in the second for a four-over-par 148. Smith shot even-par, 72-72—144.