Connelly used a late push; Lellyo used a late putt.
Playing in the final round of the American Junior Golf Association’s 54-hole tournament at Coosa Country Club on Thursday afternoon, Connelly (of McDonough) carded a 6-under-par 65 to surge back from a four-shot deficit and win the championship in the boys’ division.
Lellyo, meanwhile, had to pass a test of endurance — and composure — to win the girls’ title.
Tied atop the leaderboard with Sophia Schubert and Michaela Owen at the end of the third round, Lellyo (of Windermere, Fla.) eventually secured the title when she drained a birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to end the epic showdown after it had been reduced to two players.
“I was nervous (when the playoff first started), but I kind of calmed down … mainly because it lasted so long,” said Lellyo, a rising junior.
“When I saw the putt, I said this is going to be my chance.”
Lellyo carded a 5-over-par 218 during her three rounds to tie with Owen (Suwanee) and Schubert (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) and force the playoff.
Owen, who had the lowest score (70) in the girls’ division on Wednesday, has ties to Rome. She is the daughter of Jim Owen, Jr., who was raised in Rome and was a star basketball player at Coosa High and Berry College.
In the boys’ division, Connelly finished the tourney at 10-under-par 203 after his impressive final-round performance.
He was in a fifth-place tie when the day began, and was four shots behind Jared Bettcher, who led the event after the first two rounds.
But Connelly caught fire on the final 18 holes, and zoomed to a three-shot victory.
“I had the putter rolling today,” said Connelly. “And (late in the round), I was thinking ‘Keep your head’ because I have a tendency to go real low and then just blow up.”
The exciting finishes put the capper on the four-day event, which began with Monday’s practice round and Junior-Am, followed by three rounds of stroke play.
The tournament, which was played in Rome for the 17th consecutive year, once again featured many of the top players in the nation — as evident by the champions.
Lellyo has now produced three top-5 finishes on the AJGA circuit, and Connelly has also been among the top-5 in multiple events.
The Classic also featured six players who represented the local area.
They were: Jonathan Mason, Matt Lattanzi and Mark Kim on the boys side; and Peyton Albertson, Maggie Ashmore and Hannah Mae Deems on the girls side.
Lattanzi was the highest local finisher in the boys’ division, carding a three-day 231.
Mason finished right behind him at 232. Kim shot 235.
In the girls’ tournament, Deems finished at 238 to lead the local contingent.
Overall, this year’s event featured 72 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 12 states, along with representation from Mexico and Argentina.
Connelly said capturing the championship in the prestigious event was special for him, especially given the high caliber of competition.
“It means so much to win an AJGA event,” said Connelly. “Everyone who plays junior golf wants to have that AJGA logo on their Titleist ball and only the best are on this tour.”
Bettcher, of Auburn, Ala., finished second at 7-under-par 206. Clay Brown of Davidson, N.C., Ben Schlottman of Advance, N.C., David Mackey of Bogart, and Ryan Stachler of Alpharetta, tied for third at 4-under-par 209.
In the girls tourney, Schubert and Owen finished at 5-over-par 218 to share the lead with Lellyo and set up a three-player playoff.
It then dwindled to two players, with Lellyo eventually earning the win by hitting the green on the fourth playoff hole at the Par-3 No. 10 and sinking the clinching putt.
“I didn’t play as well as I wanted to during the round today,” Lellyo said. “As soon as we went to a playoff I knew I needed to turn it up and I was able to play the best I had all day.”
Owen’s father is the head coach at Oglethorpe University, and recently guided the team to its second National Championship in the past four years.
FINAL ROUND SCORES
Justin Connelly, McDonough 70-68-65—203
Jared Bettcher, Auburn, Ala. 64-70-72—206
Ben Schlottman, Advance, N.C. 70-74-65—209
Ryan Stachler, Alpharetta 72-68-69—209
Clay Brown, Davidson, N.C. 70-67-72—209
David Mackey, Bogart 71-66-72—209
Harrison Winger, Orlando, Fla. 69-72-69—210
Prem Samritpricha, Bradenton, Fla. 69-73-69—211
Emmanuel Kountakis, Augusta 68-72-71—211
YongLiang Shao, Wesley Chapel, Fla. 71-67-73—211
John Yi, Marietta 71-72-69—212
Alex Green, Fairhope, Ala. 70-73-69—212
David Kleckner, Johns Creek 72-73-70—215
William Gordon, Davidson, N.C. 72-70-73—215
Preston Flick, Douglasville 74-73-69—216
Jack Larkin, Atlanta 71-75-70—216
Gordon Hulgan, Signal Mountain, Tenn. 71-71-74—216
Blake Messer, Hampton Cove, Ala. 70-69-77—216
Albano Valentino, San Juan, Argentina 72-76-69—217
Connor Dudley, Fremont, Ohio 74-71-72—217
Stoney Crouch, Mount Juliet, Tenn. 71-73-73—217
Tripp H’Doubler, Atlanta 73-68-76—217
Jackson Heazel, Atlanta 73-75-70—218
Mitchell Yates, Atlanta 72-73-73—218
Nathan Mallonee, Lexington 75-70-73—218
Nicholas Cortez, Hoover, Ala. 72-72-74—218
Josh Warlick, Germantown, Tenn. 71-72-75—218
Shea Sylvester, Roswell 75-73-71—219
Cole Hunsucker, Kennesaw 71-75-73—219
Jacob Choi, Collierville, Tenn. 74-71-74—219
Chris Meuth, Henderson, Ky. 73-70-76—219
Harry Lambert, Suwanee 71-65-83—219
Meechai Padungsiriseth, Bradenton, Fla. 75-72-73—220
Buster Bruton, Dallas 75-72-73—220
Trevor Bush, Bonifay, Fla. 72-77-72—221
Madison Turner, Canton 76-72-73—221
Andrew Eunice, Moultrie 72-77-73—222
Spencer Yi, Johns Creek 74-75-73—222
Brooks Thomas, Chattanooga, Tenn. 75-73-74—222
Garrett Moores, Huntsville, Ala. 79-74-70—223
Brent Bubes, North Bethesda, Md. 73-74-76—223
Christopher Guglielmo, Cumming 74-72-77—223
Kameron Williams, Hoschton 78-72-74—224
Steven Setterstrom Jr., Mobile, Ala. 74-75-75—224
Pep Brown, Gainesville 74-75-75—224
Wyatt Larkin, Morganton 73-75-76—224
Zachary Pritchard, Duluth 72-75-77—224
Hunter Howell, Franklin, Tenn. 77-79-69—225
Terrence Zhang, Orlando, Fla. 77-76-72—225
Colby Hipp, Chatsworth 79-74-72—225
Ashton Nix, Auburn, Ala. 78-73-74—225
Joe Simpson, Jupiter, Fla. 78-74-73—225
Evan Usry, Evans 76-74-75—225
Blake Hadden, Augusta 72-76-77—225
Harrison Frye, Gastonia, N.C. 74-73-78—225
Ty Hampel, Smyrna 71-77-79—227
Miller Jackson, Huntsville, Ala. 78-75-75—228
Bailey Ulp, Suwanee 71-79-78—228
William Wilder, Henderson, Texas 74-77-78—229
Nathan Ware, Old Hickory, Tenn. 71-79-79—229
Harrison Brown, Marietta 81-77-72—230
Alejandro Villasana, Santiago, Mexico 74-78-78—230
Brian Bak, Nutley, N.J. 79-76-76—231
Matt Lattanzi, Rome 82-71-78—231
Taylor Hall, Bristol, Va. 76-80-76—232
Jonathan Mason, Rome 77-74-81—232
Patrick Bridges, Atlanta 71-80-82—233
Sean Murphy, Decatur 75-79-80—234
Mark Kim, Rome 81-77-77—235
Aaron Staley, Hagerstown, Md. 78-82-75—235
Spencer Honey, Chattanooga, Tenn. 80-76-80—236
Quin Murphy, Covington 86-77-75—238
*Madison Lellyo, Windermere, Fla. 71-71-76—218
Michaela Owen, Suwanee 73-70-75—218
Sophia Schubert, Oak Ridge, Tenn. 72-72-74—218
Jordan Daniel, Newnan 75-76-71—222
Dree Fausnaugh, Maitland, Fla. 75-75-73—223
Ji Eun Baik, Newnan 74-77-73—224
Vitoria Teixeira, Bradenton, Fla. 80-71-73—224
Katy Harris, St. Simons Island 73-72-79—224
Haley Austin, McDonough 73-75-76—224
Sabrina Long, Alpharetta 72-78-77—227
Louise Oxner, Greenville, S.C. 73-80-76—229
Alison Armstrong, Tampa, Fla. 81-74-75—230
Payton Schanen, Kennesaw 75-73-82—230
Macy McRaney, Winter Garden, Fla. 78-78-75—231
Emmy Martin, Odessa, Fla. 77-73-81—231
Kayla Jones, Milton 73-77-83—233
Paula Hong, Duluth 73-83-78—234
Elizabeth Kim, Martinez 81-76-79—236
Hannah Mae Deems, Taylorsville 79-79-80—238
Maggie Ashmore, Kingston 80-79-81—240
Harmanprit Kaur, Lawrenceville 83-80-83—246
Sally Morgan, Milton 82-87-87—256
Peyton Albertson, Rome 91-91-88—270
Cynthia Navis (2015), Fairhope, Ala. 82-JWD
* Won in four-hole playoff