WESTFIELD CENTER â€” Parker Hewit and John Hahn couldnâ€™t have planned it. Neither could Westfield Group Country Club.Fate stepped in and, as luck would have it, the two biggest hometown names to come out of last yearâ€™s Westfield Junior PGA Championship will pair up today with Brinson Paolini at 1:30 p.m. on the first tee of the South Course.
Hahn finished tied for third last year at 7-under-par, two shots off the lead, to become the highest Ohio finisher ever. Hewit was tied for 13th at 2-over to become Medina Countyâ€™s highest finisher at the event.
Now The two will play the first 36 holes together, renewing a friendship and competitive spirit thatâ€™s been years in the making.
â€œItâ€™s very ironic, but at the same time itâ€™s very anticipated,â€ said Hahn, who is currently 16th in the Polo Golf and Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings. â€œMy experience will help him and his local knowledge of the course will help me. Itâ€™ll be a dual partnership.â€
Just donâ€™t expect either to cave into a case of the nerves.
Hewit hinted that hitting in front of his throng of followers got to him a little bit last year. But three rounds of 70 helped him more than just making the cut did.
This time the Westfield Center resident is ready to move up the charts, so nerves shouldnâ€™t be a factor.
â€œI donâ€™t think so,â€ Hewit said. â€œItâ€™s still the best in the nation, Iâ€™ll just know what itâ€™s about more. Iâ€™ll know how to handle myself in tough situations.
â€œIâ€™m going out there and having fun, playing against a course Iâ€™ve played thousands of times. Not against the kids that are here.â€
The Hudson High graduate fine-tuned his game the last two days and feels like heâ€™s the name to beat.
â€œI know what I did last year,â€ Hahn said. â€œItâ€™s the tournamentâ€™s last year here and my last year here.
â€œIâ€™ve been playing well. Now that Iâ€™ve seen what I can do here, itâ€™s about trying to repeat what I did before and playing better.â€
The Westfield Junior PGA Championship gets under way today at 7:30 a.m. and concludes Saturday.
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Ohio is tied with Arizona for third with 10 representatives at the tournament. California and Florida lead all states with 13 each. Maine, Maryland, Nevada and South Dakota do not have participants. Hewit, Hahn, Bay Villageâ€™s Johnny Burke, Bataviaâ€™s Tyler Hawk, Highland Heightsâ€™ Zach Glassman and Canal Fultonâ€™s Justin Lower make up the boysâ€™ side. The girls are represented by Warrenâ€™s Katie Jurenovich, Lancasterâ€™s Allie White, West Chesterâ€™s Marissa Steen and Silver Lakeâ€™s Erin Misheff.
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GET A GRIP:
Golf Pride has been handing out free golf grips to the appreciative contestants in the 156-player field. The top-of-the-line grips are used by 87 percent of Tour players. â€œThe response has been overwhelming,â€ said Fred Behymer, the local representative for Golf Pride. â€œIt goes along with the theme of this tournament â€” a class act.â€o o o
THE INS AND OUTS: Samantha Arena from Lansdale, Pa., had to withdraw from the tournament for personal reasons and Kimberly Donovan, of Hopkinton, Mass., left with a case of strep throat. Shelby Phillips of Gilbert, Ariz., and Anne Ormson of Granger, Ind., took their spots.
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Alexis Thompson, the 12-year-old phenom who played in the U.S. Womenâ€™s Open, comes from a pretty decent gene pool. Her brother, Nicholas, is currently ranked fourth on the Nationwide Tour money list. In 17 events, the 24-year-old has pulled in $246,827. â€¦ There are plenty of tee times of note for todayâ€™s first round. Luke Guthrie, Josh Dupont and Mark Johnson will go off at 7:30 a.m. and will be followed by Vicky Hurst, Cassandra Blaney and Kyndall Ardoin. Tessa Teachman, Allie White and Alexandra Bodemann tee it up at 8:24 a.m. Returning boys champ Joe Monte pairs up with Anthony Paolucci and Robert Greenleaf at noon and is followed three groups later by returning girls champ Brittany Altomare, who will tee off with Jenny Shin and Courtney Ellenbogen. Thompson, Lisa McCloskey and Kimberly Kim go off at 1:21 p.m.