CHOE, YOUNGEST PLAYER IN GIRLS DIVISION,
LEADS BY ONE Ferris, Campbell and Wilcox tied for lead after opening
round in Boys Division
TEMPE, Ariz. - Esther Choe of La Quinta, Calif., celebrated
her thirteenth birthday a mere 16 days ago and today the youngest
player in the field sits atop the opening-round leaderboard
of the AJGA PING Phoenix Junior Championship with a 3-under-par
69. In the Boys Division, Michael Ferris of Glendale, Ariz.,
Peter Campbell of Encinitas, Calif., and Chad Wilcox of Peoria,
Ariz., share the lead after rounds of 4-under-par 68.
The 54-hole tournament, conducted by the American Junior Golf
Association, features 84 players representing 12 states and
Canada. Fifteen participants call Arizona home. It is being
held at the par-72 Arizona State University Karsten Golf Course.
Past champions of the event include PGA TOUR player Tiger
Woods (1991) and LPGA tour players Heather Bowie (1991), Emilee
Klein (1992) and Grace Park (1994, '96).
Choe (34-35-69), playing in only her second AJGA event, notched
four birdies on the day to build the one-stroke lead. She
said she was concentrating too much to worry about her lack
of AJGA experience or the veteran field.
"I have to focus on my own game and not worry about what
anybody else is doing," Choe said. "I have to play
against the course and not everybody else. It feels good to
lead and hopefully I can keep it up during the next two days."
Local talent Lauren Todd of Phoenix and Allison Martin of
Bakersfield, Calif., stand in second place with 70s.
In the Boys Division, Wilcox, who started his day on No. 10,
birdied five out of his first six holes before recording a
quadruple bogey on the dangerous 211-yard, par-3 16th to fall
back to 1-under-par. The 17-year-old quickly rebounded playing
his next five holes at 3-under-par. His round was highlighted
with an eagle on No. 2. The par-4 measures 323 yards and Wilcox
pumped his drive to about 40 yards shy of the green. He then
chipped in for eagle and birdied his next hole to get back
"This sets up the rest of the week," said Wilcox.
"It's nice to get a low score in during the early rounds.
It helps give you confidence for the rest of the week."
Wilcox (32-36-68) won the AJGA Spokane Junior Classic title
last week and hopes some of that momentum and experience pays
off this week.
"I learned a lot last week," said the Peoria, Ariz.,
native. "You have to stay patient and not get too high
or low with emotion no matter how you are playing."
Ferris (32-36-68), a Cal State San Bernadino signee, used
a hot putter to catapult to the top of the leaderboard. The
18-year-old bogeyed his first hole before carding seven birdies
for the round.
"My longest birdie putt was 10 feet," Ferris said.
"I just want to continue to play solid golf and hopefully
score under par for the rest of the tournament."
Campbell (33-35-68), 17, said a switch in equipment helped
him notch seven birdies as he begins his pursuit for a championship.
"I just got a new PING driver yesterday and I was hitting
it long and straight all day," Campbell said. "I
just missed two or three greens today and didn't have a putt
outside 20 feet."
Deadlocked in a tie for fourth with 69s are Kevin Larsen of
Santa Barbara, Calif., Seung Su Han of Chino Hills, Calif.,
Danny Buell of San Carlos, Calif., and Hochul Kim of Murrieta,
Second-round action begins at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow off the Nos.
1 and 10 tees and runs until 8:27 a.m.
For more information on the PING Phoenix Junior Championship
please contact our tournament headquarters at 480-968-7084,
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