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Kyle Heap and Alexis Vakasiuola Win Thunderbird Junior Classic

By June 21, 2024No Comments


Even 112 degrees doesn’t stop JGAA golfers from having fun. With 264 junior golfers age 8-18, the 2024 Thunderbird Junior Classic teed off June 19-20 at Camelback and Orange Tree Golf Club. Kyle Heap of Mesa captured first place in the Boys Championship division at 6-under par. Heap remained at the top spot throughout the event and managed to hold onto the lead in the final round with a 2-under 70 at Camelback-Padre Course. Jacob Medina of Oro Valley finished runner up at 5-under par, just one shot back of Heap, while Noah Kaoni of Phoenix, Sean Moore of Mesa and Caden Petersen of Scottsdale all tied for third place at 4-under par. Heap made a birdie-4 on the 18th hole to win.

The Girls Championship division, contested at Orange Tree Golf Club, belonged to 2022 winner Alexis Vakasiuola of San Tan Valley. Vakasiuola dominated straight from the get-go, being the only player in the field to post two rounds in the 60s. She held a two-stroke lead over Jordin Cowing of Gilbert heading into the final round. However, Vakasiuola turned it up a notch and replicated her first-round success by an identical 4-under 68 to leave the rest of the field in the dust. The 2023 Player of the Year created an insurmountable lead and concluded the event at 8-under par to win by a resounding eight strokes. The win is her third of the 2024 season. Cynthia Lang of Chandler earned second-place honors at even par and Jordin Cowing wrapped up the final position on the podium at 2-over par.

On the Padre Course, Jackson Malatesta of Phoenix won the Boys 15-18 division by four strokes after shooting a lights out 6-under par 66 in the final round. The round was his lowest score of his JGAA career. Beau Ellington of Paradise Valley took the Girls 15-18 division by an impressive 11 strokes with rounds of 72-74 (+2) at Orange Tree.

The Boys and Girls 13-14 divisions both played 18 holes each day at Orange Tree Golf Course, with Ty Gould of Gilbert coming in first on the boys side at an 8-under-par 136, which featured a back-nine 31 in the opening round. Ashley Malko of Gilbert claimed the girls division by two strokes at 6-over par for her second win of the season.

Also contested at Orange Tree, Cat Dann of Mesa won the Boys 11-12 division at 4-under par 68 (33-35) while Kimsey Terrell of Phoenix won the girls 11-12 group at even par (36-36—72).

Raleigh Butler of Gilbert won the Boys 10 and Under division by a substantial margin at 1-under par 71 (35-36), and Amy Xuan of Chandler shot 6-over-par 78 (40-38) to win in the Girls 10 and Under division.

“We are fortunate to have the support and relationship that we do with The Thunderbirds.  It is amazing to have them on site dressed in their traditional navy tunic and silver thunderbird pendant volunteering and providing our junior golfers with a lasting memory. Their overwhelming support allows us to provide the experiences we do each and every year.” says JGAA Executive Director Scott McNevin.