AJGA THUNDERBIRD INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR
Grayhawk Golf Club, Raptor Course
Scottsdale, Arizona
May 24-27, 2002

WITTENBERG TAKES COMMANDING LEAD HEADING INTO FINAL ROUND
In-Bee Park Paces Girls Division

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn., recorded his second straight sub-par round Sunday to build a six-shot lead heading into Monday's final round of the Thunderbird International Junior. In the Girls Division, In-Bee Park of Eustis, Fla., the youngest player in the field, will take a two-shot lead into the final round after her second consecutive 71.

The third annual Thunderbird International Junior, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association on Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course, features 90 players representing 24 states and six foreign countries. Seventy Polo Golf Junior All-Americans, including both 2001 Polo Golf Junior Players of the Year, are competing this weekend.

After sharing the lead following an opening-round 65, Wittenberg distanced himself from the rest of the Boys Division by carding a 2-under-par 70 (32-38) as others near the top of the leaderboard faltered. A tough-luck bogey on the first hole - Wittenberg's approach caromed off the green after hitting the flagstick - could not break the 17-year-old's momentum as he responded with birdies on five of the next six holes.

"I've been hitting it fairly close to the holes and giving my putts a chance to go in," said Wittenberg, who birdied an incredible 12 of the first 25 holes of the tournament. "I hit some good putts on the back nine that just didn't go in and I made a few mistakes. I could have had a big lead and I sort of let it slide a little bit."

On the back nine, Wittenberg made three bogeys but added another birdie to maintain his sizable lead -which doesn't mean he plans to hold back in Monday's final round.

"I had a set goal coming into this week of what I wanted to shoot," Wittenberg added. "I'm not there yet."

Playing in the final pairing along with Wittenberg will be Brendon Todd of Cary, N.C., and Henry Liaw of Rowland Heights, Calif. Todd (72-69-141) and Liaw (72-69-141) share second place, while a group of four players share fourth at 142, including: Kevin Larsen (70-72) of Santa Barbara, Calif.; Tyler Ley (75-67) of Santa Barbara, Calif.; Randy Lowry (69-73) of Spring, Texas; and Jessie Mudd (73-69) of Louisville, Ky.

In the Girls Division, Park (71-71-142) had four birdies over the course of the second round to take over sole possession of first place. Park, who will turn 14 in July, made key putts throughout the round to stay below par throughout the round.

"Today I made a lot of putts to save par and make some birdies," Park said. "Yesterday my irons were working better and hopefully tomorrow both aspects are on."

Park is chasing her third national junior victory this week. Last season she captured the AJGA Compaq Junior All-Star Classic at Kissimmee Bay and the PGA Junior Championship. Facing older competition does not faze the 13-year-old.

"It's a good learning experience because I go in with a nothing to lose attitude," Park said. "The older girls have a little more pressure on them."

Three other players are within three shots of the lead. Jane Park (73-71-144) of Beaumont, Calif., is alone in second place, while a pair of first-team Polo Golf Junior All-Americans - Paula Creamer and Brittany Lang - are tied for third. Creamer (72-73-145), of Pleasanton, Calif., won the Scott Robertson Memorial last week, while Lang (72-73-145), of McKinney, Texas, won the WorldCom Junior Classic earlier this season.

Final round tee times will get under way Monday at 7:30 a.m. off both the first and 10th tees on Grayhawk's Raptor Course. For more information on the AJGA Thunderbird International Junior, please call tournament headquarters at (480) 502-3181.

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