Local golf: North team builds lead against South at Junior Florida Cup at Old Collier

Stephanie Carlozzi is wrapping up quite a junior golf career today at the Junior Florida Cup at Old Collier Golf Club.

The former Barron Collier standout who's headed to Furman would like to do so with a victory for the South team over the North in the Ryder Cup-style format.

It will take a big performance to do so. The North won the final two foursomes matches by tight 2-and-1 scores coming in Monday to take a 9 1/2-6 1/2 lead into Tuesday's 16 singles matches.

The teams were tied 4-4 after the morning four-ball, and the South won two of the first four foursomes matches and halved another — including a 2-and-1 win by Carlozzi and partner Jalen Ledger.

"It's definitely a tougher format," Carlozzi said of the afternoon alternate shot with partner Jalen Ledger. "He was playing really good. I just kept hitting fairways. We had some 20-footers that I was just draining."

But a 6-and-5 win by the North's Mary Dawson and Ryan Stovash started a 4-0 finish for the North, which hasn't lost in five competitions; the teams halved the first year at Lake Nona Golf Club.

In the morning, Carlozzi and Annie Dulman won their four-ball match, 1-up, over Madison Opfer and Anna Newell.

Carlozzi tried to keep from being drained after playing her seventh round in six days; she finished tied for 24th in the Optimist International Junior at PGA National Golf Club.

"I always have a really great time," said Carlozzi, who's playing in her third Junior Cup. "I was really excited; I was actually an alternate, so at first I wasn't invited. When I got the invitation, I was just thrilled, especially since it's local."

The South will have to earn 10 of the 16 singles points to win the cup. The North only has to get 6 1/2 points to retain it.

"The North has won every year, which I think gives us a little more incentive, especially since this is my last year to be eligible to play," Carlozzi said. "I love this course so much. ... This is my last junior event, and it's a fun way to end."

Naples' Emma Bradley, who won a Class 1A region title as a sixth-grader last fall, is the other area player on the South team. Bradley went 0-2 on Monday, facing Stone's twosome in each match.

This is the second year the Junior Florida Cup has been played in Southwest Florida. Calusa Pines Golf Club played host to it in 2007, the competition's second year.

"It's perfectly placed, just at the end of the summer, right before the kids get back to school, and they've been playing in so many tournaments," said Darin Green, Director of Junior Golf for the Florida State Golf Association. "This is kind of a fun, unwinding event where they can still play high competitive golf against top players in the state, but still have fun and do some of the social aspects of it as well, and play in a team atmosphere, which they're not used to."

The North team has a pair of young, but accomplished golfers. Andy Zhang, 14, became the youngest to qualify for the U.S. Open, and Latanna Stone, who is 10, is the youngest to ever qualify for the U.S. Women's Amateur. She was the medalist at her qualifier with a 70.

"It was good that (Andy) was able to play," Green said. "He's probably one of the most excited players in the whole event. ...

"We've got a lot of players that committed to colleges and that are ready to go to college in a couple of weeks. This is kind of a last junior hurrah before they head off."

Junior Florida Cup

at Old Collier Golf Club

Morning Four-ball

Hunter O'Mahony-Connor Baldwin (S) d. Luis Gagne-Andy Zhang, 5 and 4

Emma Albrecht-Latanna Stone (N) d. Emma Bradley-Ashley Malinchak, 3 and 1

Jalen Ledger-Michael Visacki (S) d. Dustin Dingus-Pureun Kim, 1 up

Stephanie Carlozzi-Annie Dulman (S) d. Madison Opfer-Anna Newell, 1-up

Ryan Stovash-Kevin Reilly (N) d. Alex Rice-Matthe Mourin, 6 and 4

Jamie Freedman-Taylor Moody (S) d. Summer Moser-Mary Dawson, 3 and 2

Gabriel Lench-Travis Trace (N) d. Phillip Knowles-Bradley Wonka, 2 and 1

Tyler Bakich-Logan Lanier (N) d. David Gao-Stefano Butti, 2 and 1

North 4, South 4

Afternoon Foursomes

Stone-Gagne (N) d. Bradley-Baldwin, 5 and 3

Zhang-Albrecht (N) vs. O'Mahony-Malinchak, halved

Ledger-Carlozzi (S) d. Kim-Newell, 2 and 1

Visacki-Dulman (S) d. Dingus-Opfer, 5 and 4

Dawson-Stovash (N) d. Freedman-Mourin, 6 and 5

Moser-Reilly (N) d. Moody-Rios, 4 and 2

Bakich-Lench (N) d. Butti-Wonka, 2 and 1

Lanier-Trace (N) d. Gao-Knowles, 2 and 1

North 5 1/2, South 2 1/2

Total: North 9 1/2, South 6 1/2

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