HP BOYS JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge
July 26-30, 2004
SAUNDERS CLINGS TO ONE-SHOT LEAD AT BAY HILL
Five players deadlocked in a tie for second place
ORLANDO, Fla. – As a barrage of players took their shots at the top of the leaderboard, Samuel Saunders of Windermere, Fla., was able to hold on to a one-shot advantage heading into the third round of the HP Boys Junior Championship. Five players trail Saunders by one shot with tournament totals of 1-under-par 143.
The HP Boys Junior Championship, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, features 82 boys, ages 12-18, from 24 states, Chile, China and Japan. The 72-hole stroke play event is being held at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, site of the PGA TOUR’s annual Bay Hill Invitational. Past champions include Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and David Duval. Highlighting the 2004 field are 14 Rolex Junior All-Americans and 13 2004 AJGA tournament champions. The field was cut to the top 50 players and ties following the second round.
Although Saunders carded an even-par 72 to stay in sole possession of first place, he still felt there was room for improvement.
“Today I just hung in there,” Saunders said. “I had a lot of opportunities on the front (Saunders’ second nine), but didn’t take advantage of them.”
Going into the third round, Saunders said he knows he has a slight advantage since Bay Hill is his home course. However, he said he feels that the other players are becoming familiar with the course quickly.
“Obviously, it’s an advantage to a point,” Saunders said. “I know where to hit it, but these guys are good enough that after playing here a couple times, they know (Bay Hill) as well as I do.”
Leading the charge toward the top of the leaderboard was Michael Green of Augusta, Ga., whose 4-under-par 68 tied the low round of the day with Ben Leong of Orlando.
“I tried to hit as many fairways and greens as I could and I kept plugging away and made some birdies in the process,” Green said.
Rory Hie of Lakewood, Calif., who shot a 3-under-par 69, said that his round could have been even better had a few more putts fallen. Hie said he is looking forward to the rest of the week and having the opportunity to make a run at the championship.
“I just need to do what I did today,” Hie said. “I don’t have any expectations, I just need to go work on my putting,” Hie said, laughing.
Three players fired rounds of 2-under-par 70 Wednesday to join the five-way tie for second. One of these players, Robert Gates Jr. of Gainesville, Fla., took advantage of a break on the 11th hole to gain momentum.
“I pulled my second shot a little and thought it went in the water,” Gates said. “But the ball stopped three feet short of the water and I chipped it in for birdie.”
Santiago Russi of Santiago, Chile, also made a charge on the back nine, making birdies on Nos. 11, 13, and 17 en route to a 2-under-par 70. Russi said he is confident that he can continue his solid play and have a chance at winning his first AJGA title.
“It’s a good feeling to be at the top of the leaderboard,” Russi said. “I feel pretty comfortable about this course. If I play well tomorrow, I think I can win the tournament.”
Rounding out the second-place logjam is Daniel Woltman of Beaver Dam, Wis., who also captured three birdies on the back nine.
“I made a great sand save on the last hole,” Woltman said. “It feels pretty good to be at the top and hopefully I can play well and finish it out.”
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 has a membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA’s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association’s success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
Third-round tee times will begin Thursday at 7 a.m. and conclude at 8:48 a.m. off of the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information about the HP Boys Junior Championship, please contact tournament headquarters at (407) 876-8095 or visit ajga.org.