The Desert Mountain Club, Cochise and Geronimo Courses
Scottsdale, Arizona
July 7-12, 2002

Shirley shoots 2-under-par on Geronimo for Girls lead

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Taylor Wood of Laguna Niguel, Calif., kicked off the first round of the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions with a 4-under-par 68, taking the lead in the Boys Division. Margaret Shirley of Roswell, Ga., scored a 2-under-par 70 to jump into the top spot in the Girls Division.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 25th annual Rolex Tournament of Champions is being held on the par-72 Cochise and Geronimo courses at The Desert Mountain Club. The 72-hole event features 169 players - 109 boys and 60 girls - from 30 states and five foreign countries, and includes 57 Polo Golf Junior All-Americans. Past champions include Charles Howell III, David Duval, Phil Mickelson, Kellee Booth and Grace Park.

Wood - who played on the 6,961-yard Cochise course - plowed through the first round, nailing six birdies and one eagle on the day to gain a one-stroke lead over Kevin Kisner of Aiken, S.C., and Randy Lowry of Spring, Texas.

"I hit really well in the beginning," he said. "I birdied the first three par-3s, which is good because they're not the easiest holes."

Though the 18-year-old said his play slumped toward the end of the round, a solid short game saved his below-par performance. Wood dropped an eagle chip from 15 yards on the par-5, 523-yard 12th hole and hit a left-handed shot from the desert on No. 13 to save par.

Wood said he needs to maintain his consistency during the second round, when he plays the 7,063-yard Geronimo course.

"I just want to focus on hitting straight off the tee," he said. "This is only the first round, there's still a ton of golf to be played."

Kisner trails Wood by one stroke, making birdie on holes No. 8, 10, 11 and 18 and a lone bogey on No. 1 to score a 3-under-par 69. Though Lowry carded six birdies during the round, three bogeys placed him tied for second at 69.

Tied for fourth at 2-under-par 70 are Kenny Kim of Cerritos, Calif., Shane Sigsbee of McKinney, Texas, Luke List of Ringgold, Ga., Robert Stone of Dallas, defending champion Webb Simpson of Raleigh, N.C., and Andrew Dresser of Carrollton, Texas.

In the Girls Division, Shirley started the day with a birdie on the par-4, 375-yard 10th hole and a 55-foot putt for par on No. 11- and never looked back. The 16-year-old nailed four more birdies on Nos. 5, 8, 17 and 18 to score a 70 and earn the Girls Division lead by two strokes.
"I felt really good today," she said. "After that 55-footer for par, I started thinking it would be a really good day."

Shirley said she was surprised with her score at her first appearance in the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Shirley played the Geronimo course - which, according to the players, is the more difficult of the two.

"I was expecting anything under 80 would be good today," she said. "I like [Geronimo] now; I hit a lot of fairways and made my putts."

Chris Brady of Apex, N.C., Amanda Blumenherst of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Allison Martin of Bakersfield, Calif., are tied for second at even-par 72. Though Martin got off to a solid start with birdies on Nos. 1, 3, 6 and 8, she managed two more birdies on the back nine to match her six bogeys and stay at 72 for the round.

Second-round action begins Wednesday off the No. 1 and 10 tees of the Cochise and Geronimo courses. After the second round, the field will be cut in half for the final two rounds.

For more information about the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, please call AJGA Tournament Headquarters at (480) 488-1362 ext. 1028.

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