Grayhawk Golf Club, Raptor Course
Scottsdale, Arizona
May 24-27, 2002

Wittenberg holds on for win in Boys Division

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Two days after the men's course record was tied, Brittany Lang decided to do the same for the ladies' record. The McKinney, Texas, native fired a final round of 4-under-par 68 at the Thunderbird International Junior Monday to tie the course record and take the win. In the Boys Division, Casey Wittenberg of Memphis, Tenn., held on for a two-shot victory.

The third annual Thunderbird International Junior, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association on Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course, featured 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, competed this holiday weekend.

Lang, 16, entered the final round three shots off the lead but after two bogeys on the front nine, she put together a string of four straight birdies starting on hole No. 9 to take the lead.

"I did not start off well," she said. "I got into a groove on No. 9 and was just thinking about making birdies. Once I got on the birdie streak, I knew that if I kept it up I would give myself a chance to win. I was sticking my iron shots and I kept making birdies."

Lang finished the day with seven birdies for a four-stroke victory while tying the competitive course record that Kim Kouwabunpat set two years ago at this event.

Coming down 18 fairway, Lang did not look at the leaderboard to see where she stood. Instead she chose to just play her game and hope for the best. Her errant approach shot on the par-5 landed in the water hazard and after taking a drop, she got up-and-down for a bogey and a two-shot victory.

"This win means a lot to me," she continued. "I feel lucky to have won this international tournament. It tells me that all my practice, hard work and commitment are paying off now and hopefully in the future."

In-Bee Park of Eustis, Fla., took runner-up honors with a three-round total of 1-over-par 217. Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla., and Jane Park of Beaumont, Calif., tied for third at 2-over-par 218.

In the Boys Division, Wittenberg entered the round with a six-stroke lead. After a 39 on the front nine, he had only a two-stroke margin at the turn.

"Today was pretty rough," the 17-year-old said. "I hit 16 greens but I did not hit it close to the hole. I missed some important putts early and I did not make the putts I had been making all week.

"On the back nine I tried to focus," he continued. "When I saw them making a charge, I realized I needed to get going. I tried to get back in front and I held on. I wish I could have played better."

The 2001 Polo Golf Boys Junior Player of the Year put together nines of 39-34 for a 1-over-par 73 in the final round of the international championship.

"This tournament is the hardest to qualify for and it feels like a (PGA TOUR) major," Wittenberg said. "No other tournament has this atmosphere and everyone has a good time here. This is great to win and it was an honor to be here."

Tyler Ley of Santa Barbara, Calif., who began the round seven shots off the pace, made a run at Wittenberg by carding four birdies for a 4-under-par 68. He finished the tournament two shots back at 6-under-par 210. Brendon Todd of Cary, N.C., finished the tournament with a birdie and an eagle to finish at 5-under-par 211. Rounding out the top five were Kevin Larsen of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Henry Liaw of Rowland Heights, Calif., at 4-under-par 212.

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