While Nicolas Quintero prepared to put off the green Friday on the 13th hole of the International Junior Masters, his coach Monica Tamayo stood off to the side, visibly nervous. It was a tough shot, and Quintero was in contention to become the first Colombian ever to win the tournament.
But then he chipped it in, keeping the game all square. She was overjoyed, smiling and shaking hands with the people around her. Two holes later, after narrowly avoiding the bunker on the 14th, Quintero nearly hit a hole in one. He settled for just tapping it in to get the birdie to take his first lead of the day.
“When he made the first one and then on the second hole I said maybe he is going to have the second one, is that too much to ask?” Tamayo said. “And then he did.”
Quintero kept the lead and never looked back on his way to win the 66th International Junior Masters at the East Aurora Country Club. His massive shot on the 18th hole to avoid the water generated loud bits of applause from the crowd, who were in awe of the game the 17-year-old had put together. He ended up winning by two shots, defeating 16-year-old Jacob Tarkany from Scottsdale, Ariz., who held the lead through the 10th hole.
Quintero, the number two seed in the championship flight, called the win his best ever.
“I feel very good,” Quintero said. “I’m very proud of myself.”
The tournament had 80 contestants and spanned over five days. The competition began with 36 holes, and then the lowest 32 players qualified for the Championship Flight, which Quintero eventually won. He had to defeat four people in match play in order to get to the top. The next 16 lowest scores from the round of 36 competed in the platinum flight, followed by the gold flight, silver flight and bronze flight.
While Quintero played, his three teammates stood by his side, sometimes providing him pointers, other times just there to make him laugh. They say they’ve known each other their whole lives, even if they’ve only been playing together on the Colombian Jr. team for about five years.
The three teammates were with him on every hole and greeted him by pouring ice water down his head as soon as he won.
“It was great, they even wore the uniforms even though they weren’t going to play today,” Tamayo said. “To come out and be with him and support him, it was awesome.”
The course itself was in decent shape, despite a major rainstorm that halted play on Wednesday, and Tarkany said the course is different from those he is used to.
“It’s hillier, there's a lot more hazards and stuff,” Tarkany said. “It’s a lot tighter.”
David Ayala defeated Nolan Piazza in the platinum round. Ayala was up by one through two holes before Piazza squared it up on the third hole. After some challenges on the seventh hole, Ayala held onto his lead, going up by as many as five throughout the final round of play to take the match.
Tonawanda's Tyler Edholm defeated Ethan Seibert in the gold flight, Anthony Delisanti defeated Ben Coffey in the silver flight, and East Aurora’s Mitch Jeffe defeated Danny Ames in the bronze flight.