DECATUR, IL – Braving the wind and rainy conditions, Abbey Leighty, senior to be at Mt. Carmel High School, qualified for the Optimist International Golf Championships.  The Optimist International will be held July 26 – 31 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Qualifying was held at Red Tail Run in Decatur where Leighty finished 3rd in the IHSA State Championship in October.  While the course and conditions were familiar, the course was played at 6,156 yards, much longer than the State Tournament.  Rounds of 80-78-80 gave Abbey a 3 day total of 238 put her in 4th place assuring a coveted spot in the prestigious field.
Optimist International Golf Tournament is one of the largest and well-renowned junior golf tournaments in the world. In order to play in the International Championship, golfers must qualify for one of the designated spots granted to a specific District qualifying tournament and shoot at or below the target score.  The qualifier at Red Tail Run was allowed 5 spots with a qualifying score of 255.
Also qualifying at Red Tail were, Blake Yaccino (Kenilworth, IL), Dakota Limkemann (West Point, IL),  Emma Vickery (Northbrook, IL), and Taylor Nesselroad (Wataga, IL).
The Optimist prides itself as an international event, with players representing 42 states, six Canadian provinces and 25 total nations. Former champions and top finishers of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships include PGA TOUR members Jonathan Byrd, Jason Day, Bill Haas, and Jeff Overton in addition to LPGA members Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome and Lexi Thompson. A number of other well-known professional golfers have participated in Optimist-sponsored championships, including Ernie Els, Nancy Lopez, Davis Love III, Michelle McGann, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.