With a few sponsor exemptions in his pocket, John Fairbanks could have given one to his son Spencer to play in this year’s American Junior Golf Association Classic at Otter Creek.

But John Fairbanks, the tournament chairman, thought it would be more appropriate to allow a number of golfers to try to earn the exemption for a spot in the tournament through a qualifier. So Spencer Fairbanks and three others competed over 18 holes Tuesday at Otter Creek.

As it turned out, the exemption went to Spencer after all. The recent Columbus North graduate fired a 2-under-par 70 to win the qualifier.

“We wanted someone who exemplifies perseverance and the ability to compete at a high level,” John Fairbanks said. “So I wanted these guys to go through this qualifier. I wanted to make them get out and play the golf course and compete against each other, and the best score is going to get the sponsor exemption. I’ve done that for five years, and I think it’s worked out every year.”

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Kody Reynolds, who will be a freshman at Columbus East, finished second with a 73. Mark Mayhew, who will be a junior at East, took third with a 74; and Drew Smith, who will be a junior at North, was fourth with a 75.

The AJGA Classic at Otter Creek will be July 4 to 6.

“I feel better that I had to earn it,” Spencer Fairbanks said.

The foursome played the West Nine first, followed by the North nine. Fairbanks had three birdies and shot 33 on the West before carding a 37 on the North.

Spencer Fairbanks, who will play at Butler, was coming off an 82 in last weekend’s U.S. Amateur Qualifier in West Lafayette. Earlier last week, he had rounds of 74 and 78 to tie for 27th in the high school state finals.

“(Tuesday), I was hitting it well and making some putts,” he said. “The Junior Am qualifier, it was really long and windy, just tough conditions, so I played a lot more consistent today. I feel better about my game now than I did at state.”

John Fairbanks gave his girls sponsor exemption to Danbi Kim, who will be a senior at North, after she won the Girls State Junior Championship. Otter Creek pro Chad Cockerham gave his sponsor exemption to Nathaly Munnicha, who will be a freshman at North.

When Circle K came on board as a sponsor this year, John Fairbanks offered the organization an exemption to give out. That was presented to Smith following Tuesday’s qualifier.

“He’s played at a high level all spring,” John Fairbanks said. “He’s overcome a number of things.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.