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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