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WAGA state tournament continues

Haley Wilson, a 17-year-old from Phenix City, retained her perch atop the leader board of the Women’s Alabama Golf Association State Junior Championship at Selma Country Club on Tuesday.

She shot a 73 on the 72-par course for the second consecutive day, extending her lead to 12 strokes over her closest competitors — Mobile natives Kristin Warhurst and Gabi Oubre — who shot 81 and 80, respectively.

Selma native Jillian Stewart, a nine-hole player, shot a 55 on both Monday and Tuesday to place third.

Following completion of Tuesday’s second round, the 18-hole group’s field was divided into flights. The championship flight was to have eight players, but second-place and seventh-place ties forced a nine-player field. The remaining four flights (first-fourth) have six-seven players apiece.

The championship flight includes Wilson, Warhurst, Oubre, Molly Winnett, (Gardendale), Alex Harrell (Phenix City), reigning champion, Betsy Birchall (Birmingham), Bailey Gray (Springville), and Sloan Davis (Decatur).

“We’ve had five or six first-time players and many multiple-year players,” said Warren Cain, Women’s Alabama Golf Association WAGA chair and junior director. “Most of the girls have really enjoyed it and look forward to coming back next year.”

This year marks Selma’s second opportunity to have the State Junior Championship. Selma was the tournament site in 1989. Natalie Moore won the title and Amy Miller was runner-up.

“Selma is known throughout the state for its reputation in handling junior events here,” said Helen Walker, former WAGA president and current tournament committee member. “Selma has repeatedly hosted championships.”

Golfers enjoy the tournament, often in spite of their performance.

Alison Hovatter, a 15-year-old from Huntsville, played in her first State Junior at 12. She shot an 84 on Monday then dipped to a 90 on Tuesday. She was disappointed in her performance, but not in the tournament.

“It’s the most fun tournament of the year,” said Hovatter.

Davis, a 17-year-old golfer, echoed Hovatter’s sentiment. She placed seventh in last year’s State Junior at Shoal Creek in Birmingham. She shot an 82 on Monday — ironically putting her in seventh place again — but dipped to an 85 on Tuesday.

“I love this tournament. I look forward to it every year,” said Davis. “The women do such a good job with it.”

Tournament participants are not the only people to enjoy the State Junior. The event’s organizers enjoy the event as much as the players.

“It’s just great to come out here and work with these girls,” said Ann Watlington, WAGA Scholarship Foundation Trust trustee. “They remember you. I get e-mails, Christmas cards, and pictures of kids from of them.”