AJGA Sacramento Junior Championship – Second Round Recap (2024)

Second Round of the 2024 AJGA Sacramento Junior Championship presented by Morton Golf Foundation

SACRAMENTO – Saturday’s second round of the Sacramento Junior Championship presented by Morton Golf Foundation wasn’t just about the weather – a combination of rain, hail, chilly temperatures, thunder and a one-hour delay at the start of the day.


It was also about exceptional play by those in the American Junior Golf Association event at the Haggin Oaks Golf Complex’s Alister MacKenzie Golf Course.

It was about Samantha Chiou, a standout 13-year-old golfer from Orinda, shooting a second straight 4-under-par 68 and maintaining her lead in the girls division. She will take a three-shot lead into Sunday’s final round starting at 10:50 a.m.

It was about Ansen Tran of Fresno firing a 3-under-par 69 and staying at the top of the leaderboard in the boys division. Tran will take a three-shot lead into the final round starting at 11:30 a.m. “It’s pretty impressive what these kids can do,” said Jordan Alejandre, Regional Manager, West, for the American Junior Golf Association. “From day one here, I’ve seen some crazy scores from some kids. The mental aspects – when you’re cold, you’re wet, it’s windy – you’d think that they just kind of try to pack it in and get through 18 holes with the least damage as possible. But they’re still attacking the greens, hitting it straight.”

Indeed, on a day when the weather was a factor, when the umbrellas were out and the rain gear was on, players in both the boys and girls divisions scored very well in the tough conditions. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place.

“We had rain, wind, hail, sun. So, a bit of everything here,” said James Lee, of Burlingame, who is tied for second, three shots off the lead, in the boys division. “It was difficult with the wind and some inclement weather throughout the day, but greens were soft, so had to manage spin, especially from the fairway.
“I didn’t hit it my best today, but scrambled around pretty well. The greens were really nice. So, I was able to make a few putts, which was nice. The course wasn’t playing easy, for sure. Definitely some tough pins and difficult shots out there. There is definitely a very, very strong field out here.”

Lily McGowan of Folsom had the shot of the day – a hole-in-one on the par-3, 142-yard third hole. “We had heavy rain this morning, coupled with some rain overnight. The rain overnight had the course already a little bit wet. And then we got some heavier rain than we anticipated,” said Alejandre. Staff from Haggin Oaks and AJGA were able to squeegee the greens due to rains that caused some puddling, resulting in an hour delay.

“Luckily, for the players today, the winds died down,” said Alejandre. “We’ve got some good scores coming in. We had some girls go pretty low. Moving day is always fun. Lift, clean and place helped a little bit and definitely improved some conditions, to make it a little better for them. But overall, you’ve got to still hit the greens and make the putts.

“We probably would have delayed it a lot longer if it wasn’t for the Haggin Oaks staff. We had people squeegee greens, getting them prepared for the round. Luckily, we got it in with their great help.” The Sacramento Junior Championship presented by Morton Golf Foundation, is a three-day, 54-hole AJGA Open Tournament that has a field of 96 players, both boys and girls, ages 12 to 19. There was a cut after the second round. The cut in the girls division was at 9-over-par. The cut in the boys division was at 7-over-par.

The field features 14 male AJGA champions and 11 female AJGA champions. There are players from eight states and four countries, the AJGA said. It’s the first time in 20 years that Haggin Oaks has hosted an AJGA event. The event is sponsored by Morton Golf Foundation. The American Junior Golf Association, according to its website, www.ajga.org, is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.”

“We have seen junior golf bloom here a lot more as of late. It’s always great when we can get a California event on the schedule,” said Alejandre. Due to the rain, second-round play did not start until 8:30 a.m.

Chiou backed up her first-round 68 with another 68, and is at 8-under 136 through 36 holes. Her bogey-free round featured birdies on Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 11. The weather did not bother Chiou. “The conditions really didn’t affect me that much, because I’ve played a lot of rounds in the rain and wind. So, I’m pretty used to it, what clubs to choose,” said Chiou. Chiou kept reminding herself to stick to her game plan – not to get ahead of herself, to take it one shot at a time. “It was raining, but the course is still pretty nice. I was really surprised. Lift, clean and place kind of saved me,” she said. Chiou, an eighth grader at Bentley School in Oakland, has a three-shot lead over Lily Peng of San Ramon, who is at 70-69 – 139.

“There’s a lot of really good players in this field,” said Chiou, who plays out of Tilden Park Golf Course in Berkeley and is 102nd in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. “I’m excited. But I just don’t want to get too excited, just keep playing my game.” In recent events, Chiou tied for second at the K.J. Choi Foundation Texas Junior Championship hosted by Pacificlinks, earlier this month; tied for 21st at the Mizuno West Coast Classic, earlier this month; tied for 54th at the Fortinet Girls Invitational at Stanford, in February; and tied for second, in January, at the Butterfield Bermuda Junior Championship presented by Digicel Business. Peng was tied for second place with a 2-under-par 70 in the first round. She had four birdies and a bogey on her card in the second round.

Her birdies were on Nos. 5, 8, 10 and 16. Her only bogey was on the 17th hole. “The biggest challenge is the fairways, with them being really wet. But I think having lift, clean and place helps a lot,” said Peng. “I’m pretty used to this because I’m from Northern California.” Peng, 15, is a freshman at Carondelet High School-Concord and plays out of Crow Canyon Country Club. The keys to scoring on the MacKenzie Course, she said, are being accurate with your drives and placing your approach shots on the right spots on the green. Peng is No. 42 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and was named as a Rolex Junior All-American in 2023. She has nine wins in non-AJGA events and won the Billy Horschel Junior Championship presented by Zurich in 2023.

In third place is Olivia Duan of Cupertino, 70-71 – 141.
Tran was tied for the first-round lead at 4-under-par 68.
Tran’s bogey-free 69 on Saturday was highlighted by birdies on Nos. 4, 9 and 11. Tran is at 7-under 137.
Tran is 310th in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.

Last year, Tran tied for 22nd at the Kevin Harvick Foundation Junior Championship, finished 34th at the Fresno/Clovis CVB Junior Championship, tied for 24th at the Brandon Wu Championship, and finished second at the Colorado Springs Junior presented by Centura Health. Cole Kim of Sierra Madre, CA and James Lee of Burlingame are tied for second. Kim is at 72-68 – 140 and Lee is at 69-71 – 140. Kailer Stone of Alameda is in fourth, 74-67 – 141.

“Anson is a great player. So, it will be challenging to track him down, for sure,” said Lee. “But in golf, leads can evaporate really quickly. So, you’re never out of it until it’s over. “I think it’s just sticking to my game plan, doing what I’ve been doing. Hit some fairways. Hit some greens. And if the putts fall, that’s great.” Lee is a junior at The Nueva School in San Mateo.

The AJGA will play the Sacramento Junior Championship presented by Morton Golf Foundation for four straight years at Haggin Oaks, said Alejandre. “It’s great, to have such a sustained partnership with Morton Golf Foundation and Haggin Oaks. We’re going to be here for the next four years,” said Alejandre. “It’s a good partnership. It’s already a great tournament. How can we make it even better. It’s a great start. I think we’re going to even grow it even bigger and bigger.”

Starting times for Sunday’s final round go from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. from the No. 1 tee.
A qualifier on Thursday had 95 players competing for six spots in the boys field and four spots in the girls field. Exemptions into the field were awarded to six players: Sophia Lee, Abigail Lin, Lily McGowan, Akira Ransi, Sakura Watanabe and Gianna Singh.

An awards ceremony follows Sunday’s final round. According to its website, mortongolffoundation.org, the Morton Golf Foundation, a nonprofit organization, “funds programs offering a healthy outdoor recreational environment that stresses the building of lasting personal relationships while seamlessly instilling life’s core values for the youth, disabled, and under-served communities of Sacramento.”



  • Marty James is a freelance writer who makes his home in Napa. He retired on June 4, 2019, after spending 40 years as a sports writer, sports editor and executive sports editor for the Napa Valley Register, a daily newspaper in Napa County. He is a 1979 graduate of Sacramento State and a member of the California Golf Writers & Broadcasters Association. He was inducted into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2016.

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