Grace Lu of Plainfield West 9 (pictured) registered the two best rounds of her young life, shooting 68-71-139, to win the 65th NJSGA Junior Girls' Championship by four strokes over 2017 champion Christine Shao of New Jersey National (70-73-143) at the par-72, 5,460-yard Peddie Golf Club in Hightstown. The Girls’ competition is for ages 18 and younger. 

Girls' & Boys Championship Scoring

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Emma Lee of Knickerbocker was third at 73-72-145, followed by Julia McLaughlin of Bedens Brook at 71-75-,and Eunice Kim of White Beeches at 71-76-147.

In the concurrent William Y. Dear Boys Championship, for boys 14 years of age and under, Jaden Han of Darlington (73-78-151) carded a par on the first playoff hole to claim the title over Reed Greyserman of Crestmont (75-76-151). Winston Blake of Hollywood (76-79-155), Jerry Lu of Princeton (76-79-155) and Ethan Trinh of Princeton (79-76-155) shared third place. The Boys Championship was played at 5,937 yards.

Lu’s four-under-par 68 on Wednesday gave her a two-shot lead over Shao, the runner-up last year to Megha Ganne of Colts Neck. Shao is an incoming freshman at Columbia University.

“I was looking forward to playing with Christine because she is such an accomplished golfer. I felt by watching her, I could learn some things. Over the first nine holes, I was nervous in holding the lead. But on the second nine, I just let it go,” said Lu, 15, a rising sophomore at the Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison.

Lu birdied two of her first nine holes, the par-4, No. 4, when her pitching wedge ended seven feet from the cup, and the par-5 No. 8, when she placed a chip from 30 feet in the right rough to two feet. A bogey at the par-5 No. 9, still left her with a three-shot cushion over Shao at the turn. Lu then bogeyed the par-4, No. 10, but Shao could get no closer than two strokes.

Lu’s final birdie of the day at the par-5 No. 14, iced the victory. There, her 15-yard chip landed seven feet from the cup.

“My sand wedge was really good today. I came in wanting to make birdies, but some of them lipped out and I decided it was better to just settle for pars,” said Lu, who placed third in the state high school Tournament of Champions.

“My confidence level is pretty high right now. I’ve learned I can play well when I have confidence. I will use this victory to motivate myself for upcoming tournaments,” she said.

On July 2, she will play in a qualifier for the U.S. Girls’ Junior at the Steel Club in Hellertown, Pennsylvania.

On the Boys' side, Greyserman, 14, birdied the final hole to force a playoff when his chip shot from 45 feet set up a three-foot birdie putt, while Han (playing in the same group) doubled No. 18 when he overshot the green.

On the first playoff hole, the par-5, No. 1, both golfers reached the green in regulation, with Han's ball 15 feet from the hole, and Greyserman 25 feet away. Greyserman’s ensuing downhill putt sailed six feet past the hole, while Han got his putt to two feet. Han's putt led to a par; when Greyserman missed his comeback putt, Han had sealed the victory.

“On the playoff hole, I wanted to repeat what I did this morning there - hit my five iron twice, and then play a wedge shot to the green.

“I’m surprised I won because I wasn’t hitting it that well before this tournament.  I wasn’t hitting my drives well, and my putting was off. But here, even though some shots weren’t working, I was able to scramble and make a lot of up-and-downs,” said Han, a rising freshman at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey.  

Han came into the final round with a two-shot lead over Greyserman. His play was erratic over his final six holes; after a birdie at the par-3, No. 13, he doubled the par-5 No. 14, and bogeyed the par-4, No. 15. He rallied with a birdie on the par-3, No. 16, before his double on No. 18.  

“I didn’t know what to expect. I felt I would just approach it like it was another practice round. When I saw myself at the top of the leaderboard, I tried harder. I focused more on each shot. Even if I did something bad, or made a birdie, I tried to keep my cool.”

“I will get a lot of confidence out of this win,” Han said.

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