Tyler Blonder was giving it all away just as surely as he had earned it.
After an opening birdie in Wednesday’s final round of the Austin Junior City Championship at Roy Kizer Golf Course, Blonder appeared primed for a ceremonious day — but then the wheels started to fall off.
Blonder, a senior at Glenn High School in Leander, had entered the day with a one-shot lead over his playing partner, Malcolm Edwards, in the boys’ 16-18 division after shooting a 78 on Tuesday at Jimmy Clay Golf Course. Edwards’ opening bogey on Wednesday helped turn a one-shot deficit into three after Blonder converted his short birdie putt at the par-4 10th — their first hole of the day.
Nothing came easy on the opening nine for Blonder after that. He made three bogeys and three doubles over his next eight holes for a front-nine 44. Meanwhile, Edwards made the turn in 41. Blonder’s lead was gone, and mentally he needed to regroup.
“I just calmed down and pretended like it was practice,” Blonder said. “Just saw my coach (at the turn). He was talking to me, cooling me down.”
It was exactly what Blonder needed. A switch flipped inside of him, and he turned in one of the best back nines of his life to steal back the Junior City Championship. A 1-over 36 on the back, which included a clutch birdie at the par-3 eighth, got Blonder into the clubhouse with a 9-over 80. Edwards wasn’t able to fend off Blonder and finished with an 82, good enough for second place and three strokes behind Blonder overall.
“It feels pretty good. Surprised mostly, because I was terrible on the front nine,” Blonder said. “I totally thought (Edwards) was gonna crush me. I thought Malcolm was gonna take it for sure.”
In the girls’ 16-18 division, Mary Grace Davidson, a junior at the Regents School of Austin, stole the show and won going away. She followed up her impressive first-round 75 with a stellar final-round 73, which included 16 pars and just two bogeys.
Davidson’s game has been building all summer to this point. She said after her round Wednesday that things weren’t going so smoothly at the beginning of the summer. Slowly but surely, her game has started to take form. She shot a 79 just two weeks ago at the Ben Crenshaw Junior at Lions Municipal Golf Course. On Wednesday at Roy Kizer, she beat her career-best round by one shot with a 73.
“I was going through a little bit of development in my swing, trying to get some more rotation,” Davidson said. “I’ve put in a lot of work, and it’s finally come together.”
For the full results from the 2018 Austin Junior City Championship, click here: leaderboard.htm