Virgen: Whitten overcame quadruple bogeys to win Begay junior title - Albuquerque Journal

Virgen: Whitten overcame quadruple bogeys to win Begay junior title

Thomas Whitten, 11, of Albuquerque holds his championship medal while posing with Notah Begay III after winning the boys 10-11 division of the New Mexico Regional at Begay’s Junior Golf National Championship Tuesday at Twin Warriors Golf Club. (Steve Virgen/Journal)

Not long after completing the greatest achievement of his 11-year-old golf life, Albuquerque’s Thomas Whitten met Notah Begay III for an interview Tuesday at Twin Warriors Golf Club.

Whitten, who will be a sixth-grader at Begay’s alma mater, Albuquerque Academy, shot 1-over 145 (72-73) to win the boys 10-11 title by five strokes at the New Mexico Regional. Whitten advances to compete in Begay’s Junior Boys Golf National Championship at Koasati Pines at Coushatta in Kinder, Louisiana, Nov. 7-9.

Begay asked Whitten how will he be knowing that Golf Channel will be televising the national tournament.

“It’s gonna be fun,” Whitten said. “It’s probably going to make me nervous. But you just gotta persevere through it.”

Whitten is no stranger to perseverance, as he displayed such resolve during each of his rounds. Whitten overcame frustration and avoided sinking further after a quadruple bogey on No. 17 in the first round and another quadruple on No. 11 in the second round.

“I had to rebound after two quadruple bogeys, which is very unlike me,” Whitten said. “I just kept trying to hit the ball in the fairway, and I putted really good.”

Whitten said qualifying for the national championship is his favorite accomplishment. He certainly has more as he’s been keeping himself very busy recently.

He became a U.S. Kids Golf spring regional champion after winning four of six events in El Paso and Las Cruces.

Whitten also competes in baseball, swimming and tennis.

He was on the Roadrunner Little League All-Star team that won its district and reached the state tournament. The baseball wins challenged Whitten’s practice schedule for golf, but he was OK with that.

He enjoys baseball and golf the most.

“It’s so close,” he said after being asked which one is his favorite. “I don’t know which is better.”

Whitten is one of eight All-Stars on the Sandia club team that will compete in the PGA Junior League regionals Sept. 9-11 at Firewheel Golf Park in Garland, Texas.

He’ll focus a lot of his attention on Begay’s junior national tournament.

“I want to win,” said Whitten, who has been coached by John Mercer and Nick Knee. “That’ll be lots of practice, maybe every day.”

Jake Yrene, a rising junior at La Cueva High, also will be competing in Begay’s junior national tournament in the boys 10-11 division. He grabbed the second and final qualifying spot to advance by one stroke.

Rylee Salome, the Class 4A state champion for Belen High, was the low female player at the state tournament and earned a spot to play in Begay’s junior national championship at the same site as the boys, Nov. 3-5.

JUNIOR WINNERS: Vari Mariscal of Deming shot 11-under 133 (65-68) to win the boys 16-18 division of the Sun Country Junior Tour Championship on Sunday at New Mexico State University Golf Course in Las Cruces.

Yrene, shot 3-under 141 (72-69) to finish second.

Riley Apodaca of Deming won the boys 13-15 division, shooting even 144.

Lincoln Hoffer of Los Alamos won the boys 10-12 and Noland Oswald or Roswell won the boys 7-9.

Alex Armendariz of Las Cruces shot 1-under 143 (69-74) to win the girls 16-18 division. Salome came in second at 3-under 147 (73-74). Alexis Reyes of El Paso finished third at 6-over 150 (77-73).

Katleyn Stubbs of El Paso shot 6-over 150 (77-73) to win the girls 13-15 division.

Ariana Williams of Albuquerque won the girls 10-12 and Ali Laws of Farmington won the girls 7-9.

Nov. 7-9

Notah Begay III Boys Junior Golf Championship, at Coushatta, Kinder, La., Golf Channel (tape delay)

Home » Sports » Virgen: Whitten overcame quadruple bogeys to win Begay junior title


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