Payne’s thunderbolt ends long day at OGA Junior; Blonien repeats as girls champ

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Complete stroke play results:

By Ken MacLeod

EDMOND – A long day of golf that looked like it would go on for even longer ended suddenly when Parker Payne of Norman, playing in the final group still on the course, made a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to snap a five-way tie and win the Stroke Play portion of the Oklahoma Golf Association Junior Boys and Girls Championship Tuesday at KickingBird Golf Course.

That was just fine with Payne, who said he had lost three times in playoffs in other events. He will now be the No. 1 seed as the top 16 move into match play beginning Wednesday, with the semifinals and finals on Thursday.

Most competitors had to finish their first round and play their second round on Tuesday after heavy rains delayed play Monday. Those who played Tuesday morning battled heavy winds while it was mostly calm by late afternoon.

Payne shot a final-round 3-under 67 after opening with an even-par 70. That edged the quartet of Benton Manly of Tulsa, Ben Lathrop of Oklahoma City, Sam Morris of Tulsa and Nick Friedrichsen of Bixby by a shot.

Friedrichsen was 3-under and finishing on 18 while Payne was finishing his round on the ninth hole. Friedrichsen went into the final hole at 3-under, but pulled his drive left on the dogleg, uphill par-4 and had to pitch out. He could not get up-and-down and dropped back to 2-under.

Morris was also at 3-under late in the round when he came to the par-5 15th hole, but pushed his second shot right into trees and wound up with bogey. Manly, a Furman signee who was the first-round leader with a 65, was at 6-under early in his second round but finished with a 73 in the teeth of the high winds. He had to wait nearly six hours to see if that was good enough to win or make a playoff and that looked certain until Payne’s bomb on the final hole.

The girls division looks just like it did in 2023, at least at the top. Natalie Blonien of Altus won the title at even par after rounds of 71-69, while Juliana Hong of Norman was the runnerup for the third consecutive year with rounds of 69-74 to finish at 3-over 143. Rylee Roberts of Edmond and Cara Cummins of Oklahoma City tied for third at 146,

Hong defeated Blonien in the match play championship in 2023 and they will be the top seeds again this year. Blonien, a University of Arkansas signee, will face Kate Moore of Tulsa in the first round of match play while Hong will play McKenna Tatum of Edmond.

Payne, who has signed with Drake, hit an 8-iron from the rough 167 yards out to 15 feet to set up the winning putt. He will play Austen Mueller of Yukon, who won a playoff for the 16th seed. Besides the four who finished at 2-under, the field is loaded with such talents as Florida signee Parker Sands, who will face current Class 6A state champion and Oklahoma commit Preston Albee of Choctaw in a heavyweight first-round match. Friedrichsen, a late bloomer who is heading to junior college in New Mexico, draws Class 6A runner up Josh Stuart of Norman. Oklahoma signee Cameron Cheek of Owasso, who had the lead at 4-under early in the second round before sliding out of contention, tries to regroup against Brock German of Chickasha.

See all first-round matches here. The quarterfinals will be held Wednesday afternoon.

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