AJGA PING PHOENIX JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIER
ASU Karsten Golf Course
Tempe, Arizona
Thursday, August 21, 2003

HIRAHATAKE TAKES BOYS MEDALIST HONORS WITH 2-UNDER-PAR 70
Torres and Sanders share top honors in Girls Division

TEMPE, Ariz. - Fifteen boys and four girls gained entry into the AJGA PING Phoenix Junior Championship on Thursday. Earning medalist honors in the Boys Division was Chris Hirahatake of Tustin, Calif., with a 2-under-par 70. In the Girls Division, Jen Sanders of Placentia, Calif., and Jameliz Torres of Camarillo, Calif., tied for medalist honors firing a 3-over-par 75.

Ninety-nine juniors battled for 19 spots in Thursday's qualifier. The 19 juniors complete a field of 84 players in the tournament conducted by the American Junior Golf Association. Past champions of the AJGA PING Phoenix Junior Championship include Grace Park and Tiger Woods.

The 17-year-old Hirahatake earned entry into his fifth AJGA event this year with his 2-under-par 70. Hirahatake finished even-par 35 on the front nine and 2-under-par 35 on the back nine to make his low-round score.

"My putting is the strength of my game right now and it's given me a lot of confidence back in my game," Hirahatake said. "When you have confidence in your short-game it can help the rest of your game and save some of the mistakes you make off the tee."

Rounding out the other qualifiers in the Boys Division are Ryan Dunham of West Covina, Calif., Joe Prescott of Tustin, Calif., Blair Myers of Scottsdale, Ariz., Scott Aydelotte of Apache Junction, Ariz., Howard Smith of Las Vegas, Nev., Kenny Palmer of Scottsdale, Ariz., Rich O' Neill of Chevy Chase, Md., Brad Nicholson of Chandler, Ariz., Adam Marcellus of Phoenix, Ariz., Dane Bagnell of Edgewood, Wash., Jeremy Harris of El Dorado Hills, Calif., Albert Lee of Los Angeles, Calif., Rui Takamatsu of Rowland Heights, Calif., and Chase Bingham of Mesa, Ariz.

In the Girls Division, Sanders, 17, used a five-hole par streak to make her 3-over-par 75.

"I hit a lot of greens out there," Sanders said. "My iron play was strong today and it gave me confidence going into the tournament."

Torres, 17, used relaxed play and a new swing to go 1-over-par 36 on the front nine and 2-over-par 39 on the back nine.

"I had some problems early with my new swing," Torres said. " It's still a work in progress but I feel comfortable going into the tournament."

Colette Lowe of Ranello Palos Verdes, Calif., and Casey Gee of Sacramento, Calif., also qualified in the Girls Division.

First-round play of the AJGA PING Phoenix Junior Championship begins Friday August 22, with tee times starting at 6:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. The 54-hole stroke play tournament will continue through Sunday, August 24 at the ASU Karsten Golf Course. For more information, contact AJGA tournament headquarters at (480) 784-4834 ext. 227 or log on to ajga.org.

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