Kaahanui Out to an Early Lead in the PING Phoenix Junior
Four-Way Tie for First in the Girls Division Going into the Second
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Trey Kaahanui of Tempe, Ariz., carded a 5-under-par 67 to claim the top spot on the leaderboard after the first round of the PING Phoenix Junior. In the Girls Division, four golfers sit in a tie for first. Jenny Hahn of Henderson, Nev., Anna Kim of Chandler, Ariz., Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley, Calif., and Courtney Ferguson of Houston, all finished with scores of even-par 72.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the PING Phoenix Junior is a 54-hole stroke play event held at Moon Valley Country Club. The 78-player field features players from 11 states, Canada, Columbia and Switzerland. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 7,210 yards while the Girls Division is playing at 6,373 yards.
On a course that proved tougher to navigate than many expected, Kaahanui credited staying on top of the field in the first round to his excellent ball striking.
"I was keeping my ball in play off the tee," Kaahanui said. "I gave myself the opportunity to make birdies and save pars."
Kaahanui finished his day with six birdies and one bogey, and said that he was glad to be playing in his own backyard.
"I just tried to play today like it was a practice round," he said. "I had a lot of fun with the guys I was playing with."
Nathan Weant of Hallsville, Texas, finished the first round just one stroke off the pace of the leader after shooting a 4-under-par 68. Alex McMahon of Tucson, Ariz., and Zachary Wright of Phoenix, ended the day in a tie for third at 2-under-par 70 and George Cunningham of Litchfield Park, Ariz., sits in fifth after posting a first-round score of 1-under-par 71.
In the Girls Division, Hahn was not at all disappointed with her first round, but she thought that she had some missed opportunities.
"I left a lot of birdie putts out there," Hahn said. "If I had made those, I could have gone a little lower."
Kim birdied two of her first three holes and contributed much of her early success to her short game.
"I made a lot of long putts, and I had some good chip shots to save a few pars," Kim said.
Vu also got her round off to a good start as she birdied four holes on the front nine. Vu struggled a bit on the back nine, but she still managed to hold on to a share of the lead. Vu won the Preseason Junior at Oak Valley earlier this year and is looking to continue her success.
"My win at Oak Valley gave me a lot of confidence coming into this event," Vu said. "I just want to keep going and make as many putts as possible."
Ferguson was the last of the leaders in the Girls Division to finish her round, and she was surprised to find herself in a tie for the lead.
"I was hoping that my score would be good enough to keep me in the top three; I did not expect to be in a tie for the lead," said Ferguson.
Ferguson hopes to lower her score in the second round by improving her shots off the tee.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
Second round tee times will run from 6:30 - 8:18 a.m off Nos. 1 and 10 tees Wednesday, June 9. For more information on the PING Phoenix Junior, contact Tournament Headquarters at 678-617-9917.