AJ Fanselow wins junior amateur

BULL VALLEY – AJ Fanselow's attire was quite fitting on the final day of the two-day Billy Vahldieck McHenry County Junior Amateur at Boone Creek Golf Club.

The recent Huntley graduate entered play Thursday in the McHenry County Junor Golf Assocation event tied with former high school teammate Brad Spoeth after each shot a 5-over-par 76 a day earlier. The two were in the same group, which made for an interesting battle, but it was Fanselow who pulled ahead at the end and captured a one-stroke victory with a two-day score of 149. He shot a 2-over 73 in the final round to win the boys senior division.

Spoeth carded a two-day total of 150 while firing a 74 on Thursday to finish second, and Nick Banich (154) placed third.

Fanselow looked the part of a victor as he stood with his first-place trophy while wearing a green polo with the Masters logo stitched below his left collar. He also wore a black cap with the same logo.

"It might have brought me a little luck," he said with a laugh.

Fanselow overcame some rough holes, including a double-bogey on the third hole and a triple-bogey on 16. He made up for those holes with what he described as much more consistent play as he was able to hug the fairways and putt himself out of jams.

Aside from the two tough holes, he parred 12 holes and had four birdies. His play made it tough for the other golfers to gain ground on him.

"My mentality throughout the day was to make a par," he said, "and if I did that I knew the other golfers would have to come get me.

"Brad, especially, is a really good player, so I knew that if I could get a little bit ahead of him I would have a good chance to win."

In the boys junior division, Justin Lenzini took first after carding a two-day total of 142. He won by six strokes and shot even-par 71 both days. He overcame double bogeys on the second hole during both rounds, but he sank several birdie putts to push him back to par. 

"It's great," Lenzini said. "I was pretty nervous coming into the round, but to shoot even-par is an awesome feeling. I just wanted to get in the clubhouse and turn in my score."

The junior girls division was the tightest and ended with a three-golfer playoff. Lauren Kalamaras, Sophia Archos and Kailey Lindholm each finished the day with a total of 94 and settled the score on the first hole. Lindholm double-bogeyed the hole during the round but during the playoff she bogeyed it, which was good enough for the win. Archos placed second while Kalamaras took third.

"I was really nervous because I wasn't hitting my driver well." said Lindholm, an incoming McHenry East freshman. "It's a great feeling to win one and get first."

Kaylee Ross (83) took first in the girls senior division while Bailey Bostler (85) and Alexandra Slavelis (85) rounded out the top three.

The tournament was capped off with the presentation of two scholarships, presented by the Vahldieck family. The $1,000 scholarships were set up in 2010, a year after their son, Billy, died. The scholarships are presented annually in his memory.

Kaylee Ross, who will attend Clark College in the fall, was awarded one of the scholarships, and Daniel Swisher was awarded the other. Swisher will attend McHenry County College. The scholarships must be applied for and a committee selects the recipients based on athletics, academics and financial need.

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