Aaron Buck wins qualifier, heads to Optimist International Junior Championship
It may be summer now, but Aaron Buck is in the swing just like he was in the spring.
Buck, a Lake Oswego resident who will be a senior at Lakeridge High School in the fall, won the 16-18 division of the Pacific Northwest District Optimist International qualifier at Forest Hills Golf Course in Cornelius in late May.
By doing so, he qualified for the Optimist International Junior Golf Championship at Trump National Doral in Miami, Florida, from July 26-31. The tournament, with players representing 43 states, six Canadian provinces and 28 nations, will bring together some of the world's most talented young golfers (both boys and girls) in four different age divisions.
Buck, who won the individual title in the 2019 Three Rivers League scoring race and later placed 15th at the Class 6A state tournament, is excited about the opportunity that lies ahead.
"It will be a cool experience playing in Florida," Buck said. "It will be a good opportunity to play PGA-caliber courses — the Blue Monster and Silver Fox."
In the qualifier, competing against nine other boys in the 16-18 division, Buck shot a 1-under par at Forest Hills to tie Springfield's Nick Watts for first place, then beat Watts in a playoff. Buck was tough on Forest Hills' par-5 holes, making birdies on four of the five. He bogeyed three holes in a row late in the round, then dropped a 30-foot putt on the 18th hole to force the playoff with Watts.
Former Optimist International champions and top finishers include PGA Tour members Jonathan Byrd, Jason Day, Bill Haas, and Jeff Overton, as well as LPGA members Stacy Lewis, Brooke Pancake, Brittany Lincicome and Lexi Thompson.
Other well-known professional golfers who participated in the Optimist-sponsored championship include Ernie Els, Nancy Lopez, Davis Love III, Michelle McGann, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.