Montgomery holds on at Junior Open

There doesn’t seem to be anything that Taylor Montgomery can’t overcome on the golf course these days.

Grown men can’t beat him. Triple-digit temperatures are no problem. Neither are gusty winds. Even a bout of food poisoning can’t stop him.

The Foothill junior-to-be stayed in front Thursday at Anthem Country Club and didn’t look back in capturing his first American Junior Golf Association tournament with a three-shot victory in the Las Vegas Junior Open.

In the girls division, Alex Kaui rallied from a shot back with one hole to play to pull even with Jenny Hahn and then beat Hahn on the first playoff hole for her first AJGA win.

Montgomery had a 1-under-par 71 Thursday and finished with a three-day total of 212, three shots better than Troix Tonkham, who had an even-par 72 and finished with a 215.

“I was ready to play,” said Montgomery, who was ill during Wednesday’s round after coming down with food poisoning Tuesday night. “I just tried to hit all the fairways, and if I did that, I knew I’d be in good shape.”

Montgomery, who beat players old enough to be his father last month when he won the Southern Nevada Amateur, had two birdies on the front nine Thursday —  the par-4 No. 2 and the par-4 No. 7 — two of the toughest handicap holes at Anthem. He made the turn at 2-under.

“Older people are smarter on the golf course,” he said, referring to the knowledge he gained playing last month at Legacy Golf Club. “I tried to use some of that knowledge in this tournament, and it definitely helped.”

Kaui, a junior-to-be at Green Valley, had to be at her best down the stretch. She had missed several putts and still was trailing Hahn, her Gators teammate, by a shot heading to the par-5 18th.

Kaui was 227 yards out on her second shot when she took out her 4-wood and hit the shot of the day. Her ball landed 6 feet from the hole, giving her a great opportunity for an eagle and a chance to win in regulation.

“I had to be a bit of a daredevil,” said  Kaui, who had a 75 Thursday and a three-day 217. “I was the one who was behind, and I had to make something happen.”

Hahn, meanwhile, was having all sorts of problems. She hit her tee shot into a lateral hazard down the right side of the fairway and got to the green in four.

Hahn had struggled with her putting through most of her round. Yet somehow she managed to coax the ball into the cup. And when Kaui missed her eagle try, they were headed to sudden death at the par-4 No. 10.

“I thought I was hitting my lines with my putts, but nothing was going in, until 18,” said Hahn, whose three-day 217 included a final-round 74. “I knew if I didn’t make that one, it was over because Alex wasn’t going to three-putt from there.”

But the wind messed with Hahn’s drive in the playoff as she drove into a bunker on the right side. Kaui was on the fringe of the back of the green in two, and she two-putted while Hahn couldn’t get up and down to force a second playoff hole.