St. Pius’ Jones surges late, wins Junior title

Samuel Jones, who will be a senior at St. Pius, grabbed his first tournament win in the Sun Country Junior Tour Stableford Championship on Tuesday at Paradise Hills Golf Course.Aiden Krafft, an incoming Cibola junior who won the Class 5A state title as a freshman in 2019, entered the final round one point ahead of Jones. Krafft then began the final round with four straight birdies, collecting 28 points.

Jones refused to let that stop him from his own birdie surge. Jones birdied Nos. 10, 12, 13, 14 and 17 to edge Krafft, 179-176.

The event was Sun Country’s first major junior tournament, or two-day competition, since coronavirus restrictions shut down the junior golf schedule in March.

“I didn’t worry about (Krafft’s birdies),” said Jones, 17, the son of pro golfer Kent Jones, the University of New Mexico alumnus who plays on the PGA Champions Tour. “I had my own game. I knew if I thought about it, it was going to get in my head.”

Jones was paired with Krafft in the first round Monday, when Krafft finished with an 89-88 lead. Krafft calls Paradise Hills his home course, having lived across the street from the golf course when he started playing at age 4.

Jones and Krafft played together in the final round along with Jones’ friend, Nathanael Mertz, who finished sixth. The juniors in the tournament played in groups of no more than three to adhere to coronavirus prevention guidelines.

Jones has not played in many tournaments this year. He last played in the New Mexico-West Texas Amateur Championship in El Paso that concluded June 14. He finished tied for 46th, 27-over-par 237 (80-79-78).

There were hardly any dramatics in the other divisions of the tournament.

Grady Cox of Belen won the boys age 13-15 division title with a two-day total of 171 (92-79). Kirin Hochenedel of Albuquerque finished second at 82-72 – 154.

In the girls 16-18 division, Rylee Salome of Los Lunas won the title easily, scoring 86-82 – 168, with Piedra Vista’s Shandiin Harper finishing second at 64-81 – 145.

Callia Ward of Albuquerque won the girls 13-15 division title by a large margin, scoring 75-78 – 153. Sarah Grenemyer of Albuquerque finished second at 55-56 – 111.

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