Menlo's Buchanan, Castilleja grad Nelsen tee it up at annual Trader Joe's tourney next week


If history plays a role, then perhaps Menlo School's Andrew Buchanan has a good shot at winning the annual Trade Joe's Junior Championship that gets under way Tuesday at Castlewood Country Club in Pleasanton.

It was only three years ago that another Menlo School golfer, Patrick Grimes, captured the boys' division title in the American Junior Golf Association event hosted by LPGA tour pro Pat Hurst. Grimes had just finished up his freshman year before shooting rounds of 73-68-67 on the tough Hill Course.

Buchanan just concluded his sophomore season at Menlo, which included winning the West Bay Athletic League title. He and Grimes both advanced to the Central Coast Section and NorCal tournament before having their season end.

Buchanan recently played in the 100th California State Amateur Championships at the Olympic Club in San Francisco but missed qualifying for match play.

Nelsen, who just graduated from Castilleja, will compete close to home in one of her last AJGA events before attending Harvard in the fall. Nelsen finished fourth in the 2010 Aspen Golf Classic and seventh at the 2011 W. Duncan MacMillan Classic and is among the players to watch next week.

This past season, Nelsen helped Castilleja finish second at the girls' CCS championships while taking fourth individually after shooting 75. She and her teammates advanced to the NorCal championships.

The 54-hole stroke-play tournament runs Tuesday through Thursday. The 96-player field of boys and girls, 69 of which are from California, includes players from 10 states along with representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, China, South Korea and Thailand.

In other junior golf action:

Xin Fang of Menlo Park and Kennedy Shields of Atherton failed to qualify at the AJGA Jr. at Centennial TaylorMade-adidas Golf Qualifier on Sunday in Medford, Ore. Fang, from Menlo-Atherton, shot 39-41-80 for the 18 holes to finish ninth while Shields, from Sacred Heart Prep, shot 41-46-87 and took 15th.

The tournament an 18-hole stroke play event held at Centennial Golf Club. The tournament field featured 73 boys and 17 girls, ages 12-18, from 11 states and gave the juniors an opportunity to "play their way in" to coinciding AJGA Open tournaments or earn a Tournament Exemption or Performance Star for a future event.

The Junior Tour Summer Series III will be held Monday at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland and include include three local players.

Alex Hwang of Palo Alto will compete in the Boys Championship Flight while Chloe Sales of Palo Alto will play in the Girls Championship Flight. Bradley Keller of Menlo Park will be in the Boys First Flight.

Series IV of the tour will shift to Poppy Ridge in Livermore on Wednesday. The Girls Championship Flight will include Rachael Henry of Menlo Park (and Sacred Heart Prep) in addition to M-A's Fang. Andy Zhou of Palo Alto will play in the Boys First Flight.

— Keith Peters

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