Anawin Pikulthong repeats at Golfweek West Coast Junior Open; Gracie McGovern wins girls division

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In some ways, not much has changed at all for Anawin Pikulthong over the past year. The rising high school junior won the Golfweek West Coast Junior Open a year ago with rounds of 69-64. He did the exact same thing on Sunday at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes in Maricopa, Arizona.

Pikulthong, who plays for Hamilton High School in nearby Chandler, finished 11 under and ran away with the boys title. Charlie Allen was second at even, Blake Hammarstrom and Camden Braidech tied for third at 3 over, while Colton Cherry was fifth at 5 over.

“It was pretty special – last year I thought that 64 was once in a lifetime and to be able to do it again today proves that a lot of hard work is coming along,” he said.

Pikulthong, who has committed to play college golf close to home at Arizona State, has played a few tournaments at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes but “never really shot anything remotely close to that so today was pretty special.” His closing 64 included an eagle at the par-5 third hole plus six birdies and no bogeys.

As for what’s changed in his game the past year?

“I’ve just been improving on putting, a little bit of short game. I’m hitting it a little bit longer … lately it’s been translating to better scores,” he said.

A year ago at this time, Ashley Menne claimed the title in the girls division. But on Sunday, Menne was leading her Arizona State team up the leaderboard at the NCAA Women’s Championship at nearby Grayhawk Golf Club with a bogey-free 65.

This year, Gracie McGovern stepped up, reaching 6 under for 36 holes to win by eight shots over Annie Dawson and Samantha Olson, who tied for second at 2 over.

“I’m really excited and all that hard work and dedication has paid off,” she said. “Even though it was hot, I just tried to remain focused and calm.”

McGovern’s closing, bogey-free 67 threatened her lowest score in competition – it came one shot shy of her record 66. She’ll be a sophomore in high school at Chaparral in Scottsdale, Arizona, in the fall.

“Just hitting greens and I just tried to play good strategy,” she said of the weekend. “I laid up on most holes and I gave myself a lot of full swings instead of 30- to 40-yard shots.”