PALM VALLEY — It came down to the wire in both the girls and boys 15- 18-year-old division on the final day of the South Texas Junior Golf Classic on Sunday at Harlingen Country Club.
On the girls side, Anika Hovda, who will be a senior at Weslaco High this year, beat defending champion Julie Lucio, a junior at Brownsville Hanna, on the second extra hole of a playoff.
Meanwhile on the boys side, Aaron Martinez, a senior at Mission Veterans, also needed extra holes to upend Jacob Daniel Serna, a senior at Lyford High School.
Martinez, who ended Saturday as the first-day leader with a 71, settled for a 78 on Sunday to end regulation with a 149. Serna, meanwhile, came into the day just two strokes back and fired a 76 on Sunday to finish tied with Martinez and force the playoff, where Martinez was not to be outdone.
But the day truly belonged to Hovda, who stepped up big in key situations.
She came into the day trailing Lucio by four strokes, but shot a second-round 69, culminating with a birdie on 18 to finish the tournament tied with Lucio at 147.
Like true warriors, the two battled onward and remained tied after both bogeyed the first playoff hole.
On the second playoff hole, however, Lucio’s tee shot sailed wide left and nearly went out of bounds. The shot cost Lucio as Hovda reached the green on two and then sank a beautiful birdie putt for the one-stroke victory.
Afterward, Hovda, who has been playing in this tournament since she was 10, was grateful for her first-ever STJGC win.
“I think today I just knew that I needed to play my best and I tried really hard,” she said. “Julie (Lucio) is a really tough player and she’s not easy to beat at all. She’s gonna keep fighting and she never stops so… I’m happy.”
NOTES: Cole Charvat of Harlingen High School took home third place in the Boys 15-18 division. He combined an opening-round 74 with a 76 on Sunday to finish with a 150… Briana Garza of Los Fresnos finished third on the girls side. After an opening-round 78, she came on strong Sunday to shoot a 76 and finish with a 154.