LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – Michigan State University senior Valery Plata and Pepperdine University sophomore Kaleiya Romero surged to the top of the Women’s Division leaderboard, while Marquette University graduate student Hunter Eichhorn made a run of his own to sit atop the Men’s Division after two rounds of the 11th Annual Patriot All-America at The Wigwam Golf Club. The 85-player men’s division is being played on the Gold Course, and the inaugural women’s division, with 41 players, is being contested on the Blue Course. View the entire leaderboard here.
A native of Floridablanca, Colombia, and former Big 10 Player of the Year, Plata chipped in from off the green on 18 to finish her round at -5 (65), tying Romero for the Women’s Division lead. An all-WCC First Team selection, Romero had more ups than downs in her second round, countering three bogeys with five birdies and an eagle for her second straight -4 (66).
“Everything’s been pretty good except for my tee shots, so I’m hoping to fix that and go low tomorrow,” said Romero.
“I’ve been hitting it pretty well off the tee, and I’ve been making some pretty good approach shots and putts I guess that’s what it takes to do well out here,” said Plata.
Eichhorn had a bogey-free round with seven birdies to match the Patriot All-America low-round record of -7 (63). The Carney, Mich., native birdied the last two holes to take the 36-hole lead into the final round.
“I got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I kind of got the putter hot and started to hit some good shots, and it all came together,” said Eichhorn. “[Tomorrow] I need to go out, have fun, be aggressive when I can, try to make some birdies and try to avoid making any mistakes.”
University of Texas at Austin sophomore Ashley Park set a new Patriot All America Women’s Division low-round with a -7 (63) on the Wigwam Golf Club Blue Course, at one point birdieing seven straight holes. Park tallied eight birdies on the round against one bogey to account for her record-setting score, and sits T-11 at -3 overall.
“Honestly, I had had four birdies in a row and I didn’t even know my score,” said Park of her historic round. “After the three after that I was just thinking keep it simple and play golf. It’s my best score yet, so it’s really nice.”
University of Notre Dame junior Palmer Jackson and Arizona State University Fifth-Year Senior Mason Anderson are tied for second at -9 overall going into Friday’s final round. Connor Howe and first-round leader Chase Sienkiewciz are tied for fourth, one shot back at -8.
“I’m hitting the ball better than I ever have,” said Anderson, who has yet to make a bogey at this year’s Patriot All-America. “I’m hitting a lot of fairways, hitting a lot of greens, and not really putting myself in positions for bogeys at all. It’s usually just a two-putt par or maybe I make one and it’s a birdie, so my ball striking has been really nice.”
Ivy Shepherd of Clemson University and Natasha Andrea Oon of San Jose State University sit tied for third at -6 overall, and Mychael O’Berry of Auburn University rounds out the top five at -5 heading into tomorrow’s final round.
The Patriot All-America honors fallen or severely wounded soldiers in partnership with the Folds of Honor Foundation. The golfers receive a golf bag donated by PING Corporation at the event’s opening ceremony emblazoned with the name and branch of service of a fallen or injured military member whom they shall represent. Participants also receive a card with the soldier’s story so they can be familiar with that soldier. The theme of the tournament has stuck a chord with many of its players.
“Being able to represent someone who served our country means a lot to me,” said Park. “My father is a huge supporter of the Patriot and Folds of Honor. Unfortunately he couldn’t come to this event even though he was really looking forward to it. I just wanted to make him proud and make him happy to see me out here representing one of our heroes.”
Final Round play from the Wigwam Golf Course is scheduled for 9:00 am on Friday, December 31. For more information including live stream links, live scoring and player pairings, visit patriotallamerica.com.
About The Patriot All-America Invitational
Featuring golf’s stars of tomorrow, The Patriot All-America is regarded as a top amateur event nationally, attracting PING All-America golfers from all three NCAA Divisions, NAIA and NJCAA rankings as well as from universities outside the United States. The Arizona Golf Association (AGA), JDM Partners and the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) partnering with the Folds of Honor Foundation to host the tournament. For more information visit patriotallamerica.com.
About Wigwam Golf Club
The Wigwam’s three 18-hole championship golf courses offer a diversity that cannot be matched by any other Arizona resort, with 54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr. The Gold Course has hosted many signature tournaments over the years, including numerous U.S. Open Qualifiers, U.S. Amateur Qualifiers, several NCAA Regional Championships and the annual Patriot All-America Invitational, one of the top amateur competitions in the world. The 7,430 yard, par 72 track has also received various industry awards and accolades since opening in 1965, including being named one of the “Top 100 Golf Courses in America.” In December 2009, The Wigwam (including the golf courses and resort property) was purchased by JDM Partners, led by sports icon Jerry Colangelo. For more information, please visit www.wigwamgolf.com.
About Arizona Golf Association
The Arizona Golf Association has been serving amateur golfers in Arizona since 1923 when it held the first State Amateur Championship. Today, it is licensed by the United States Golf Association to provide handicapping and course rating services to member clubs, to provide tournament and rules expertise and to oversee the application of amateur status.
About Golf Coaches Association of America
Established in 1958, the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) is the professional organization of golf coaches. The GCAA’s mission is to support its member coaches by creating educational opportunities, providing resources, and promoting its members with the purpose of enhancing their overall performance as coaches, mentors, and teachers. The GCAA also recognizes the excellence and achievements of its members and their student-athletes in academic, athletic and civic endeavors.
About The West Valley Mavericks
The West Valley Mavericks Foundation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit) was born of the imagination and vision of a group of community leaders late in 2012. The West Valley Mavericks (or just ‘Mavericks’) is a group led by gentlemen who believe that the West Valley is an incredible place to live, work, and play. The Mavericks’ charter is to advance charity, culture, community, and commerce in the West Valley of Phoenix. As an organization, we use individual contributions, fundraising events, business sponsorships, ticket sales donations, as well as hands-on community service to raise money to assist children and families, help people in need, and improve the quality of life in our West Valley communities. For more information please visit westvalleymavericksfoundation.org.