By Matt Hanlon, AJGA Communications
Summar Roachell of Conway, Ark., had high hopes going into her final Under
Armour®/ Hunter Mahan Championship. Granted, the outcome of the tournament
didn’t have any immediate impact on her future. The 17-year-old golf sensation had
already signed with her college of choice: University of Arkansas, and had a
handful of AJGA wins under her belt. But twice she had come close to winning
the Under Armour®/Hunter Mahan Championship and come up short, the second time in
We talked before the tournament for several minutes, chatting about a little
of everything including her experience with the AJGA, her first red card, her
college aspirations, and her love for the game she has played since the age of
She was like so many juniors I have been pleasantly surprised in meeting
this spring: optimistic, excited for the future and eager to talk about golf.
What’s more, it was clear just how bad this high school senior —in her final
season with the AJGA— wanted to finally win the elusive Under Armour ®/Hunter
“I came in second the past two years, lost in a playoff last year,” she said
before the tournament. “I’d really like to get that win, third times a charm, I
guess we’ll see if that works. It’s a great field.”
At the end of our chat I asked her if there was a lot of pressure to do well
in her final appearance at an event she had come so close to winning, twice.
It was quite the opposite, she explained.
“You don’t want your last tournament to be like oh man I didn’t play as well
as I could have,” she said. “I don’t want to put to much pressure on myself”
Even so, her desire to do well was clear. In the first round, she shot an
even-par 72, placing her just one stroke behind the first round leader, Sierra
Sims. She was within striking distance of the player she’d lost to in a playoff
the year before.
But things didn’t go her way on Sunday. She had trouble on the first few
holes, and shot 9-over-par through the front nine. I was following some of the leader
groups that day and ran into Summar’s group early on the back nine. I knew by
this time that Summar had a difficult first nine holes, so when I waved to her
group on the twelfth hole and politely asked Summar how the round was going, I
did not expect a forthcoming response. I knew the disappointment she must feel
with being out of contention of the leaderboard. But if there was any
frustration behind her voice, it wasn’t noticeable.
“Not good,” she said matter-of-factly, shrugging her shoulders. “I was
7-over-par through the first four holes.”
Knowing the difficulty that an elite golfer must have in saying this on a
final round, I tried to be sympathetic, but she continued, matter-of-factly.
“It happens, it’s just golf,” she said, smiling, as she walked down the
In the last month, even after watching some of the best, most consistent
junior golf I have seen, that moment still stands out to me as one of the most
impressive. Amidst so much expectation and desire to do well in a tournament
that she had come painfully close to winning, Summar dealt with that
disappointment with a professionalism that few professional golfers seem to exhibit.
That maturity reminded me of something she said during our chat a few days
I had asked her a question I often wonder about, whether elite junior
golfers lose any enjoyment of the sport from the stress of high-level
competition at such a young age.
Given the poise that I had just witnessed in this college-bound junior
golfer, her response could not have seemed more appropriate.
“I love that competition that you get day in day out, when I was younger I
had just as much fun as I do now,” Summar had said before the tournament.
Summar shot a 1-over on the back nine Sunday, placing her in the top 15 in
the tournament. She admitted it was a tough final Under Armour®/ Hunter Mahan
Championship, but yet again she remained positive; she knows that this fall,
she’ll be headed to University of Ark. to play the game she loves. In the
meantime, she has one more AJGA event left to play, at the KPMG
Stacy Lewis Junior Open in Rogers, Arkansas this June.
For me, the month of April has been amazing start to the spring season. And
it’s the passion and attitude of juniors like Summar that make me appreciate
being a part of the AJGA.
“Everything happens for a reason and I just try to take from that and I
learned a lot from that round. You learn a lot from your bad rounds probably
more than your good rounds,” said Roachell after the tournament. “I’ll still
have a lot of golf left to play and a lot of tournaments let to play in.”