Golf: Jordan Velez wins U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional qualifier in Battle Creek, Michigan
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media July 9, 2014 9:06PM
Jordan Velez (left) and his caddie, Tom Kruse, after Velez's victory at the U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional qualifier at Battle Creek Country Club in Michigan. | Supplied photo
Updated: July 10, 2014 2:26PM
A par would have been nice, a birdie just gravy.
On this day, though, Jordan Velez settled for a bogey — and he was glad to have it.
On the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, Velez knocked in a putt for a bogey to claim the U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional qualifier June 30 at the Battle Creek (Michigan) Country Club.
“It was a bogey, but I won so I’ll take it,” Velez said with a laugh. “I knew if I played it safe (on the hole) I could win it.”
On the playoff hole, Velez and Alex Scott, of Traverse City, Michigan, both hit long over the green on No. 18. Velez found himself a tad bit closer, intending to capitalize on Scott’s slight miscue. The St. Laurence senior to be chipped back onto the green and two-putted for the win. He shot a 2-under par 142 over two rounds.
Velez claimed the lone advancing berth from the sectional qualifier, qualifying for the upcoming 67th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. The six-day event will be held July 21 through 26 at The Club at Carlton Woods (the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course) at The Woodlands, Texas.
“I definitely want to win it, and I think I can,” Velez said. “I’m going to do the best I can, and whatever happens, happens.”
A three-time state qualifier at St. Laurence, Velez believes that an offseason committed to working on his game has paid huge dividends. Competing at the 2A state finals the past three seasons, he finished 19th as a freshman, 20th as a sophomore and 31st as a junior.
The win at Battle Creek certainly looks like the offseason work has paid off.
“I was playing great, and usually it’s my putting that hurts me,” Velez said. “It didn’t hurt me this time around. My caddie, Tom Kruse, did a great job calming me down and telling me not to play too aggressive. I had a fun time with it.”
Velez went to Battle Creek with a dual purpose.
“My grandma lives not too far away so I wanted to visit too,” Velez said. “I like the course, too, so it worked out.”
Looking ahead to the Junior Amateur Championship, his senior season and hopefully, college golf, Velez knows what he has to do.
“I have to focus on playing the course and playing the best I can,” Velez said.