Plucienski wins PGA junior tourney

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Redemption. Relief. Not having to worry about being in a playoff.

Those were the feelings 17-year-old Robert Plucienski of Slidell, La., was going through at the end of the 2006 Gulf States PGA Thanksgiving Junior Classic at Beau Pr/ Country Club.

One year ago, Plucienski shot an opening-round, 1-under-par 71 en route to the first-round lead &8212; only to blow a three-shot lead and lose to Jerry Johnston on the first playoff hole.

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Plucienski made sure that wouldn&8217;t be the case this year as he made four birdies and shot a 71 when it mattered &8212; in the final round Wednesday for a two-day score of 147 to be overall champion and the winner in the boys&8217; 16-18 division.

&8220;It feels great,&8221; Plucienski said. &8220;It feels a lot better than to lose in a playoff like last year.&8221;

Will Black of Calhoun City, also in the 16-18 division, and 14-year-old Charles Valluzzo of Baton Rouge, playing the 14-15 age group, had a share of the first-round lead with rounds of 3-over 75.

However, neither player was able to keep up with Plucienski, who made sure his last opportunity to be crowned champion in this event would not slip through his hands again.

One bad hole ended Valluzzo&8217;s chances as he shot an 8-over 80 to finish with a two-day score of 155. However, he did finish first in the 14-15 division.

&8220;On the third hole, I had an eight,&8221; Valluzzo said. &8220;I tried to stay in it. I had a birdie on 7. Every time I made a birdie, I&8217;d come back with a bogey. I had two birdies on the back, but I couldn&8217;t get anything going.&8221;

Valluzzo did go on to say that it felt good to win his age group after not playing well in a tournament about a week ago.

&8220;It feels good to play a little better and come out with a win.&8221;

Black, on the other hand, got off to an even worse start and wound up shooting a 9-over 81 and finished second behind Plucienski in the 16-18 age group with a two-day score of 156.

&8220;I put on a choke fest,&8221; Black said. &8220;I played horrible. I couldn&8217;t do anything. Robert had a great day and beat me to death. He was hitting it close and I couldn&8217;t get anything within 20 feet. I three-putted three of the first four holes. Overall, it was a bad day.&8221;

On a day where the wind wasn&8217;t a factor, most of the scores were lower on Wednesday. Jake Kaiser of Natchez made up 16 shots in his final round. After shooting a 98 on Tuesday, he bounced back with an 82 on Wednesday to finish at 180.

Jackson Bryant, also of Natchez, had the second-best round of the day with a 78 to finish third in the 14-15 age group at 162, two shots behind second-place Travis Wilmore of Alexandria, La.

&8220;I played better on the front than on the back,&8221; Bryant said. &8220;I was even on the back side going into 14. I went bogey-double bogey. On 17 I made birdie. On 18 I three-putted for bogey. I hit the ball good, but I putted bad. Seventy-eight is my best score ever.&8221;

Holly Jenkins of Boyce, La., won the girls 14-18 age group with a two-day score of 179. But despite finishing first, Jenkins said she played &8220;bad.&8221;

&8220;My putting was horrible,&8221; said Jenkins, who then said she could&8217;ve shot in the high 70s instead of her rounds of 87 and 92.

Jacob Ross of Brookhaven held on for a one-shot win over Drew Kirby of Baton Rouge in the boys&8217; 12-13 age group.

Ross shot a final-round 84 to finish at 166 while Kirby shot an 83 to finish at 167. Hannah Schorr finished in first place in the girls 10-13 age group.