AVON — Talk about close.
Beau Titsworth’s tee shot on the 14th hole was out of bounds by 2 inches in Thursday’s final round of the Cleveland Junior Open at Red Tail Golf Club.
But that shot and another penalty over the final four holes left Titsworth, a St. Ignatius junior and Avon resident, in a tie for second place in the prestigious American Junior Golf Association tournament for boys and girls ages 12-18.
Even with the penalty strokes, Titsworth shot a solid 2-over 74 for a final three-day total of 225 (9 over) to finish just two strokes behind champion Francisco Ruffino of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who shot 76.
Ruffino was two shots ahead of Andrew Wong of Deerfield Beach, Fla., after the second round, but Wong ballooned to a 79 Thursday to finish sixth at 228.
“It was disappointing,” lamented Titsworth, who was tied for fourth, just four shots out of first after the second round. “I beat myself.”
After going out of bounds on the 14th, Titsworth took his second double bogey of the final nine holes on the 422-yard 18th when his 5-iron approach shot plopped into high grass in a ditch in front of the green, leading to another penalty stroke.
“It was a bad shot,” he said.
Titsworth recovered nicely, pitching the ball to 8 feet, but he missed the putt for bogey.
“I was in good shape with no bogeys on the first nine and then finished with two on the back and both were doubles,” he said.
Among other area players, Kyle Kmiecik of Avon shot a 76 for a 232 total and a tie for 13th. The St. Ignatius graduate, who will play golf at Ole Miss in the fall, got off to a rough start with an opening 81.
Three Westlake residents also competed: Connor McCafferty shot 78 to tie for 18th at 236, Anthony Maroon shot 84 to finish 48th at 252 and Marcus Brezina shot 94 to finish 52nd at 260.
The girls title was won by Linda Luo of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., who survived a five-hole playoff after she and four other girls finished at 224. The others were second- round leader Allison Harper of Columbus, Samantha Swinehart of Lancaster, Pei-Chun Chen of Bradenton, Fla., and Laura Murray of Tipp City.
Two girls were eliminated on the first hole of the playoff and one after the second hole. Luo hit a perfect pitch to the green for a title-winning birdie on the fifth extra hole.
Red Tail played tough all three rounds as only three golfers managed a round under par. Scott Smith shot 71 in Tuesday’s opening round and two players managed the feat Thursday. Andrew Fog of Greenwood, Ind., shot a 2-under 69 for the tourney’s low round, and Chen had a 70 to vault into the five-way playoff.
As for Titsworth, he had another beef besides the penalty strokes … his putting. “I’ve never had this many lip outs in my life, at least five,” he said. “One, on the sixth hole, ruined an eagle. I could not make any putts that mattered.”
Still, his confidence certainly hasn’t been shaken, not after improving every year he’s played in the tournament. Two years ago he finished in the top 20, then took fifth last year before his tie for second this week.
Does he think he can continue his rise in the standings next year?
“That’s what I plan to do,” he said.
Contact Jerry Rombach at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.