By Louie Avery
Perfect playing conditions at Texarkana Country Club added up to two incredible performances by local teenagers Thursday in the 2010 Arkansas State Golf Association’s Mountain Valley Junior Stroke Play Championships.
Sixteen-year-old Sean Romero left most of his competition in awe with a 5-under-par 67 in the final round, and a 54-hole score of 200 for a 11-stroke win over 17-year-old Corbin Renner of Little Rock.
The only other golfer to shoot under par in the tournament was Texarkana’s Cole Kennedy, who brought TCC to its knees with a spectacular course-record 62 to finish at 215. Cabot’s Colby Benton shot even par on the final day for a 217 total.
Heber Springs’ Katie Webb put an exclamation mark on her 2010 player of the year journey by shooting 80 Thursday for a 245 total and 3-shot victory over Jessieville’s Grier Bennett, who had entered the final round tied for first place with Webb.
Romero’s playing partners—Renner and Benton—knew early in the final round that their prospects of catching him were slim at best. Romero drained a 40-foot birdie putt at the first hole, and he got up and down from the sand at the par-5 second hole for another birdie. It marked the third straight day he had started with birdies on his first two holes.
There was more drama at the long par-3 third hole.
“I was just trying to throw the ball at the center of the greens today and hopefully make a few putts,” Romero said. “I almost had a hole-in-one at the third hole. I was just an inch from dunking, but it rolled about six feet past the flag and I missed the putt.
“I didn’t hit the ball as well today. My goal was to play bogey-free and I did that. I hit a bunch of bunkers on the front, but got up and down each time. That helped my momentum going to the back.”
Romero finished 3-under on the front, scoring a third birdie at the par-5 seventh. He final two birdies came at 10 and 18, with several close calls in between.
“I’ve gone under par several times in a row, but never this low,” Romero said. “This has to be my best tournament. I’ve been told the more low rounds you have, the more comfortable you are about getting there. I’m really glad I did it this week before the Junior PGA, so I can have some confidence in Indiana and know I can go low.”
Romero indicated how focused he was on his performance by admitting he had no idea his friend Kennedy had set a new course record.
“I walked in and signed my scorecard, and I was hearing 62,” he said. “I had no idea who had shot it, but wasn’t surprised to see it was Cole. That’s amazing.”
And so was Romero’s 3-day performance.