AJGA BUICK JUNIOR OPEN
Boyne Highlands Resort, Heather Course
Harbor Springs, Michigan
July 8-11, 2002

BLANK TAKES FIRST-ROUND LEAD BY TWO STROKES
Burleigh and Creamer pace Girls Division at 1-over-par

HARBOR SPRINGS, Mich. -- Jeffrey Blank of Sylvania, Ohio, stands atop the Boys Division leaderboard after firing a 2-under-par 69 in the first round of the AJGA Buick Junior Open Tuesday. Dayna Burleigh of Horsham, Pa., and defending champion Paula Creamer of Pleasanton, Calif., lead the Girls Division carding a 1-over-par 72.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Buick Junior Open features 99 players, both boys and girls, representing 17 states and Canada with 27 participants hailing from Michigan.

Making his AJGA debut, the 17-year-old Blank paces the 75-player field in the Boys Division with the lone under-par score on the day. Blank was also the first player to birdie the No. 18 hole on the day.

"My approach shots were good," Blank said. "I hit the ball better on the front nine but I played better on the back nine. My putting was solid as I missed only four greens today."

Arriving an hour early to practice hitting balls and putting, Blank will continue the same routine as he looks to maintain his lead Wednesday.

"The [boys] field is very solid," Blank continued. "There are a lot of good players here and I'm just happy to be ahead."

Tied for second place at even par are Ricky Romano of Murrieta, Calif., Ben Herrera of Waukee, Iowa, and Michael Schachner of Libertyville, Ill.

Co-leaders Burleigh and Creamer each fired a 1-over-par 72 to the take first-round lead in the Girls Division. Coming from a third-place finish at the Pete and Alice Dye AJGA Classic, July 1-4, in Bridgeport, W.Va., Burleigh seeks her first AJGA title of the season as she carded two birdies and three bogeys on the day.

"I struggled with my short game today," Burleigh said. "But I have been feeling very relaxed and comfortable with my game."

With little pressure lurking overhead to defend her title, the 15-year-old Creamer carded one birdie and two bogeys on the day.

"I putted well today," Creamer said. "But I was inconsistent hitting my irons. The greens were big and it made for really long putts."

"There are a lot of good players here and anything can happen with two days left."

Mandi McConnell of Grand Blanc, Mich., shot a 75 to round out the top three girls.

Second round action will run from 7:30 a.m. - 12:18 p.m. Wednesday off the No. 1 tee at Boyne Highlands Resort, Heather Course.

For more information on the Buick Junior Open, contact tournament headquarters at (231) 526-3189.

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