Close with comfort
Saari, Kennedy fall just short of U.S. Open berth

It's an odd juxtaposition. John Saari is a young professional golfer, staring his career and working his way through mini tours up toward Nationwide events and hopefully the PGA Tour. Nearly two decades ago Greg Kennedy was in Saari's shoes, but now plays as an amateur out of the TPC at Sugarloaf. In a good year, he'll play 10 to 12 tournaments, but he has two young children and a full-time job that is not playing golf.

But Monday, the two were in the same position. Both fighting through the U.S. Open qualifying sectional at the Ansley Club at Settingdown Creek against pros like Matt Kuchar, D.J. Trahan and Billy Andrade.

And they both took the same attitude. They were there to win, no matter who was in the field.

"I was trying to feel like I was the guy to win it," said Saari, a Parkview grad. "You can beat anybody on any given day. You don't give them too much respect and not worry about who is there and how many tournaments they have won or whatever."

Kennedy, whose amateur standing means a constant "A" next to his name on scoring sheets, doesn't wear it as a burden.

"To me, it is just an A by your name," Kennedy said. "I was paired in a twosome this year with Ryan Blaum, a professional. I was playing side-by-side with him. I feel I have a game that is very comparable with him. For the most part it is just an A by your name. That has to be your mindset coming in."

A winning mind-set didn't get either into the Open field, but Settingdown Creek played easy this week, allowing the 15 under to win and 10 under only forced a playoff. Kennedy shot 3 under, Saari, the medalist at the local qualifier, shot 2 over.

Like their mind-set entering the qualifier, both left disappointed, but didn't let it linger.

"It was fun," Kennedy said. "I was disappointed for a couple of hours after."

"It takes a lot to frustrate me," Saari said. "It was pretty cool being a medalist at the local. That was the first time being a medalist at something semi-important. It was fun."

Wright, Shanahan win age group at Georgia Junior PGA Championship

Duluth's Kendall Wright shot a two-round 4-over-par 148 to win the girls 16-18 division of the Georgia Junior PGA Championships at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens.

Wright's 148 bested runner-up Kimberly Graff (12 over) of Lilburn by eight strokes. Lawrenceville's Kiersten Rom (plus 56) finished seventh and Suwanee's Jackie Rajek (plus 61) finished eighth.

Sloan Shanahan of Suwanee won the girls 13-15 age division with a two-day 13 over and was the only local finisher in the age division.

On the boys side, Norcross' Eric Quinn was the top local finisher in the boys 16-18 division, shooting a 5 over 147 to finish fifth.

Norcross' Ryan Trocchio (T21) finished 12 over, Duluth's Andy Privateer (T28) finished 16 over, Norcross' Matthew Luckett (T36) finished 18 over, Snellville's Colin Spellman (T40) shot 20 over, Duluth's Andrew Robbins (T51) shot 27 over and Dacula's Tyler Roberts and Suwanee's Austin Ujhelyi (T54) each finished 28 over.

In the boys 13-15 age division, Lilburn's Ted Moon led all local golfers with a 14 over to finish in the top 14.

Behind Moon were Preston Heyward of Duluth (T15), Dacula's Ryan Monroe (T15), Norcross' Will Dalahanty (T25), Suwanee's Garrett Marschke (34), Norcross' Clay Trocchio (T37), Suwanee's Chris Rajek (T39), Duluth's Victor Choi (T39), Lilburn's Andrew Stolorena (T42) and Lilburn's Michael Stolorena (47).

Tardy, Collins claim age groups at Highland Walk

Bailey Tardy of Norcross shot a 46 to win the girls club 7-18 division at the Atlanta Junior Golf event at Highland Walk in Royston.

In other nine-hole rounds, Duluth's Matthew Collins won the boys open 12-and-under with a 53, beating Michael Collins (57) of Duluth and Max Edel (60) of Suwanee. In the boys club 12-and-under, Dacula's Cole Gower finished second. Lawrenceville's Travis Farmer (62) and Rohan Iyer (68) of Suwanee finished second and third in the boys club 13-and-over. Lawrenceville's Samuel Mink (57) took second in the boys open 13-and-over.

Andrew Stolorena of Lilburn (80) and Norcross' Jonathan Lynn (82) each finished second in their 18-hole divisions. Stolorena played in the boys open 13-14 division and Lynn in the boys open 15-18.

Walsh finishes top 6 at WindStone

Lawrenceville's Jack Walsh fired a 71 to finish tied for sixth in the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic.

Walsh finished six shots back of tournament winner Collin Ho from Albany. Finishing behind Walsh were Norcross' Justin Cho (72), Suwanee's Chung Lee (74) and Dacula's Kevin Ledd (77).

Shipp wins age division at Arrowhead

Benjamin Shipp of Duluth won his 12-and-under age division in the junior tournament at Arrowhead Country Club in Jasper.

Shipp shot a nine-hole 44, beating Canton's Andre Leveque by two strokes.

Lilburn's Rohan Mahadevia finished second in the 13-and-over division with a 61.

Four local golfers finish in top 3

Lawrenceville's Taylor Allen fired a nine-hole 41 to finish first in the girls club 7-18 division at The Hooch Golf Club in Duluth.

Duluth's Ansley Bowman finished second with a 44 and Loganville's Alexis Taylor and Vivien Makhoul of Dacula each shot 47 to finished in the top 3. Taylor won a scorecard playoff over Makhoul and Marietta's Meredith Singer.

Duluth's Charles Huntzinger shot a 38 to finish a stroke back in the boys open 12-and-under division.

Banda, Mancilla, Healy take divisions in Lithonia

Grayson's Jack Banda (open 13-and-over), Lawrenceville's Austin Mancilla (open 12-and-under) and Norcross' Zachary Healy (18-hole 12-and-under) all won their age divisions at Mystery Valley Golf Club in Lithonia on Monday.

Banda beat Marietta's Jordan McCormick in a scorecard playoff and beat Andrew Justus of Grayson, who finished third. Healy shot a 91, beating Suwanee's Steven Payne (104), who finished third. Lawrenceville's Joseph Farrugia shot a 90 to finish third in the boys 18-hole 15-18 division.

Golfing Gwinnett is a weekly column that highlights golf in the area and welcomes contributions from courses and individuals. To be included in the column, fax information to (770) 339-8081 or e-mail to ben.beitzel@gwinnettdailypost.com.