This prestigious tournament attracted top junior golfers from across the world, hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Paiute Golf Club and Resort
Las Vegas, NV: Just last week, one of the major events on the calendar for junior golfers across the globe, the WorldStars of Junior Golf, took place in glorious Las Vegas, Nevada. Hosted at the Paiute Golf Club, just outside of the city, boys and girls from different age divisions gathered to take on top opponents among an extremely talented pool of players.
Among the participants in the highly-competitive Boys 15-18 age division was Kazuki Yamauchi, a rising senior at the Heritage Academy in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and a student-athlete at the International Junior Golf Academy. Kazuki came into the tournament as a hopeful to challenge for the top trophy in his division, as one of the highly regarded players of his age group.
During his first round of the tournament, Kazuki put together one of the best rounds of his young golfing career, shooting an impressive 71, one-under-par for the day, which placed the IJGA representing Yamauchi in the first place of the leaderboard. After birdies on the 5th and 10th, Kazuki played solid golf and closed out the round with 15 pars among his two birdies and one unfortunate bogey. After day one, everything was running smoothly.
Heading into the second round, Kazuki continued to show his pedigree among the rest of his division, this time posting a 75 for his round. Though his score may not have reflected the dominance he had the day before, due to his success during his first round, Kazuki and the rest of the tournament’s leaders teed off later in the morning. By getting a later start to their round, the infamous Las Vegas desert wind began to play a major factor throughout the afternoon, as the wind either destroyed some players and their hopes at the trophy or further cemented them among the leaders of the division. For Kazuki, a 75 for the round scored as one of the best among his peers, which enabled him to stay first place heading into the final round atop the leaderboard at +2, even with tough gusts of wind making themselves felt throughout every hole of the links-style Paiute golf course.
In the morning of the third and final day of the tournament, just before his potential championship round, we had the chance to speak with Kazuki and ask how he was feeling going into one of the biggest rounds of his young career.
“I definitely feel a lot of pressure. I will remain focused on my golf and what I have to do to play well, but the wind is difficult. I have played well the last two days, and I am excited to play today”, said Yamauchi.
The wind calmed down during his final round, and after posting a front-nine score of 37, Kazuki looked to be in a strong state-of-mind going into the back-nine. However, the pressure behind him was mounting as Tunyapat Sukkoed, from Thailand, began to sneak up on Kazuki at the top of the leaderboard.
Heading into the back-nine, Kazuki started off strong with a birdie on the 11th hole, and finished off with a solid 37, compiling in a 74 for the round, which bettered the score of his second round and its difficult playing conditions.
However, though Kazuki put together a brilliant performance all-around at the WorldStars tournament, Thailand’s Sukkoed managed to put together an extraordinary 33 on the back-nine of his third and final round, and went on to win the tournament after shooting a -2 on the day, and +2 for the tournament, bettering Kazuki by two shots.
Kazuki finished the WorldStars tournament in second place with a score of +4 for the event, easily handling the remaining players of the division. Though Kazuki did not win the tournament, he put together three incredible rounds of golf and truly displayed his talent among a pool of 60 of the top junior boys across the world, and recorded the best finish in a tournament of his career.
Days later, while reflecting on the tournament, Kazuki mentioned that not only did he play well throughout the event due to his confidence and talent, but also due to the support from his fellow IJGA student-athletes.
“When I played the back nine, every IJGA student was following me and watching – which I really enjoyed. My golf was very good too which I enjoyed, knowing that my friends were watching”, said Yamauchi.
After completing their respective final rounds, the 12 other traveling IJGA student-athletes quickly made way to the last group of the day to watch Kazuki and the rest of the leaders play, which was a picture-perfect moment in our eyes here at the academy.
Now, as a rising high school senior at the Heritage Academy, Kazuki will hope to build on this result out in the desert and put together a successful fall season with college golf looming on the horizon for this incredibly talented individual.
For more information regarding this year’s WorldStars of Junior Golf tournament, including its history, the host-course, our IJGA participants, as well as view a slideshow of the best pictures from this incredible week of golf, please click the link here.