Grant Lester is on Top of His Game at the U.S. Junior Amateur Golf Championship
Rising STA senior Grant Lester pioneered a new frontier for the St. Albans golf program as the first-ever Bulldog golfer to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship earlier this summer. When Grant arrived at Bandon Dunes in Oregon for the tournament earlier this week his only expectations were to enjoy the moment and play to the best of his abilities. He has done that and more, finishing the first two rounds of stroke play in a tie for second place in the 264-player field with a two-day score of -7, just two shots behind the medalist. The top-64 stroke play finishers advanced to match play for the rest of the tournament. Grant entered match play Wednesday as the 3rd seed but in the remaining field of 64 of the top junior golfers from around the world, seedings are not all that important – every player is formidable. This was certainly the case for Grant’s opponent Wednesday, Emilio Gil Leyva from Mexico.
Leyva survived an 11-player playoff Wednesday morning to get into the final 64. He carried that momentum to an early 2-hole lead over Lester after the first three holes. Lester took holes 4, 5, and 8 to finish the front nine up 1. Leyva took the lead back with a birdie on 12 and par on 13 and Lester responded with 3 wins on 14, 15, and 16 to go up 2 with 2 holes to play. But Leyva fought back again with pars on 17 and 18 to send the match into a sudden victory playoff, which started on the 421-yard par-4 first hole. Both players parred the hole in regulation and both parred it again in the playoff. Play continued on the par-3 second hole, which Leyva birdied in regulation. But Lester was undeterred as he sunk his par putt to earn the hole and his place in the round of 32 on Thursday.
Grant is scheduled to tee off at 12:24pm eastern Thursday against defending champion Nicholas Dunlap, the #3 rated golf recruit in the Class of 2022 who is headed to Alabama this fall as part of the top recruiting class in the country as rated by The Golf Channel. Dunalp won the 2021 Junior Amateur at the The Country Club of North Carolina, which secured him a spot in this past June's United States Open in Brookline, MA. Dunlap won his round of 64 match Thursday 2 and 1 over a native Oregonian and was 2-under in stroke play. Dunlap shot 1-under on the Bandon Dunes course during stroke play Tuesday and Lester carded a 2-under 70 on the course in stroke play.
Located in Washington D.C., St. Albans School is a private, all boys day and boarding school. For more than a century, St. Albans has offered a distinctive educational experience for young men in grades 4 through 12. While our students reach exceptional academic goals and exhibit first-rate athletic and artistic achievements, as an Episcopal school we place equal emphasis upon moral and spiritual education.