LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Steve Marino called the shot PGA Tour quality.
And Marino would know, considering how he’s earned more than $1.8 million on the PGA Tour this season.
The shot in question was Ryan Celano’s 175-yard 5-iron from a fairway bunker at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club’s 18th hole on Thursday.
Celano, from Naples, carved the approach to within birdie range and he promptly deposited the 8-footer in the back of the cup for a two-shot victory in the boys division of the AJGA’s Under Armour/Steve Marino Junior All-Star Championship, designed for boys and girls ages 12-15.
“I just wanted to hit it close to put the pressure on David (Snyder) and Bernardo (Curbelo),” said Celano, who finished with a 69 and an 8-under par 208 total. “I just wanted to get it on the green, but then it drew back to the pin. I wasn’t necessarily trying to do that.”
Celano, Snyder and Curbelo, a former IMG Academies student, entered the final round in a three-way tie for first.
The pivotal turning point came on the 16th hole, part of the Ritz’s difficult finishing stretch, where Celano birdied as Curbelo bogeyed.
Curbelo, who plans to attend American Heritage in Plantation this fall, then bogeyed No. 17 as Celano enjoyed a one-shot lead over Snyder, of McAllen, Texas, and a three-shot cushion over Curbelo.
Curbelo joined Celano with a birdie on the last to share third place honors with Bradenton’s Jin Zhang, who torched the Ritz layout with a 66.
However, Miami’s Jorge Garcia, a Venezuela native like Curbelo, had the day’s low round with a 65.
“I was very impressed with the golf,” said Marino to the group of juniors at the awards ceremony after following both the boys and girls for the final few holes.
Curbelo’s late bogeys proved to be his undoing, and he said his game is determined by how well he putts.
On Thursday, the putts just didn’t drop enough as he finished with a 211 total -- three shots shy of Celano.
“I don’t miss a lot of fairways and greens,” Curbelo said. “If I make the putts, it’s going to be a good day. If I don’t, then it’s going to just be an average day like this one.”
Snyder had a chance to put the pressure on Celano, but his birdie bid on No. 18 from about 25 feet just missed.
On the girls side, Katherine Patrick won wire-to-wire with steady golf (68-72-73--213).
Bradenton’s Phoebe Zhao notched a tie for ninth with a 226 total, well behind Patrick, who hails from West University Place, Texas.
Lakewood Ranch High rising sophomore Danny Walker, who claimed an individual state title last year, fired a final round 73 to tie for 22nd with a 222 total in the boys division.
Thursday’s final round capped five strong days of golf in which players began competing in a two-day national qualifier on Sunday and were on hand for a clinic from Marino following Wednesday’s second round.
“I remember being a junior golfer and coming to these tournaments, and I was presented the opportunity to put my name on one of their tournaments,” said Marino, who plans on playing in the PGA Championship as his next PGA Tour event. “And I thought it would be pretty cool, so I took it.”