THOMAS CHARGES TO THE LEAD WITH BACK-TO-BACK 67's
Mabanta's 4-over-par 75 helps her take charge of the Girls Division
LAS VEGAS — Ryan Thomas of Alameda, Calif., fired a 4-under-par 67 for the second consecutive day to put himself on top of the Boys Division at the Las Vegas Founders Junior Golf Championship. A new leader also emerged in the Girls Division on Wednesday. Melissa Mabanta of Phoenix, Ariz., shot 4-over-par 75 to take a one-stoke lead going into the final-round at Angel Park Golf Course.
The Las Vegas Founders Junior Golf Championship, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, is being held at the Angel Park Golf Club's Mountain Course. The tournament features 62 boys and 20 girls — ages 12-18 — from 15 states and Canada. The event is staged on the par-71, 6,723-yard Mountain Course at Angel Park Golf Club (Girls Division played at 5,962 yards).
Thomas started the day in a tie for third. After shooting three consecutive birdies on the front nine, the 17-year-old found his groove. After losing his momentum on No. 6, he regained it after a birdie on the 520-yard, par-5 No. 13. With five birdies and only one bogey on the day, Thomas feels good about his chances on Thursday.
“I just play it one shot at a time,” said Thomas. “If it's good enough to win, that would be great. But at least I'll know I gave it my best shot.”
Thomas holds a two-stroke lead over Kaz Hoffman of Tiburon, Calif., who shot 68-68 — 136. Thomas Camaione of Upland, Calif., Samuel Kim of Cerritos, Calif., Eddie Olson of Aptos, Calif., Joel Dahmen of Clarkston, Wash., and James Dalthorp III of Los Angeles, are tied for third with a two-day total of 138.
In the Girls Division, 16-year-old Mabanta faced an early challenge after starting her day with a double bogey on the 343-yard, par-4 No. 10. She was able to maintain her composure and her game with help from her driver.
“I was hitting my driver deep and solid,” Mabanta said. “My irons were playing tight, too. Tomorrow, I will have to focus on making more putts.”
With a one-stroke lead over three other players in the Girls Division, Mabanta will have to stay on her toes going into the final round. In a three-way tie for second are Ashley Smith of Calgary, Alberta, Katie Sylvan of San Diego, and In-Ah Park of Las Vegas.
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 Las Vegas Founders Junior Golf Championship, contact tournament headquarters at (702) 967-3213.