BYRD TAKES CONTROL AT WHISPER CREEK
Hong remains at top in Girls Division
HUNTLEY, Ill. James Byrd of Windermere, Fla., fired an even-par 72 to take the lead of the Boys Division after the second round at the Midwest Junior Players Championship with a two-day total of 2-over-par 146. In the Girls Division, Jennifer Hong, also of Windermere, maintained her position at the top of the leader board with a 1-over-par 73 for a two-day total of 4-over-par 148.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Midwest Junior Players Championship is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Whisper Creek Golf Club. The tournament features 74 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 15 states.
Byrd battled through another day of high winds at Whisper Creek to shoot 38 on the front nine and 34 on the back side. The 16-year-old felt his putter was the source of his strong round. Byrd needed only 24 putts total, and just 10 on the back nine. Byrd's solid putting helped him regain his confidence at the turn.
I hit the ball to within four feet of the hole on No. 11 and made birdie, Byrd said. I had a birdie on No. 12 too, and that got me back on track.
Byrd is only one of two players to shoot even par in the tournament. Ben Murphy of Dunlap, Ill., also fired an even-par 72 for a two-day total of 148. This ties him with first-round leader Benjamin Tewes of Lincoln, Neb., who shot a 2-over-par 74. Andrew Hopkins V of Maumelle, Ark., Joe Kinney of Antioch, Ill., and Brian Larson of Rochester, Minn., are tied for fourth with 5-over-par 149s.
Consistency was the key to Hong's solid round, which featured a 38 on the front nine and a 35 on the backside. She made 15 pars on the day, including an eight-hole stretch from No. 11 through No. 18. Hong, 18, found that the difficult weather conditions benefited her game.
The wind is tough, but most holes play down wind, so it actually helps me, she said. If I continue to play consistent I'll be okay.
In sole possession of second place is defending champion Jennie Arseneault of Grinnell, Iowa, with a 7-over-par 151. Stephanie Connelly of Pasedena, Md., stands alone in third with a 9-over-par 153.
The final round of the Midwest Junior Players Championship begins Thursday with tee times starting at 7 a.m. off the No. 1 tee.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which enters its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
For more information about the Midwest Junior Players Championship, please call the Tournament Headquarters at (847) 515-7682, ext. 7325.