KANEKO ENTERS FINAL ROUND AT 3-UNDER-PAR WITH NINE-STROKE LEAD
Chian, Pierce tied for Boys Division lead at TEE UP Junior Challenge
SAN RAMON, Calif. â€” Philip Chian of Covina, Calif., and Bryan Pierce of Arroyo Grande, Calif., are tied for the second-round lead of the TEE UP Junior Challenge after each posted 2-over-par 146 tournament totals. Ayaka Kaneko of Honolulu, Hawaii, shot an even-par 72 to maintain the lead in the Girls Division with a 141 tournament total.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the TEE UP Junior Challenge is being played at The Bridges Golf Club. The course is playing at 6,571 yards for the Boys Division and 5,846 yards for the Girls Division. The 54-hole stroke-play event features 57 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 18 states and two countries, including 45 players from California.
Pierce made four birdies en route to a 1-under-par 71 to vault into a tie for the lead after beginning the day five strokes behind the first-round leader. Playing in his last AJGA event, Pierce said winning the TEE UP Junior Challenge would have a true impact upon his life.
â€śIf I won this, it would be the most special thing that's happened to me as far as golf is concerned,â€ť Pierce said.
Chian shot a 2-over-par 74 and enters the final round tied with a one-stroke lead. He admitted nerves may play a part in his final round, but Chian mentioned the importance of sticking to his game plan.
â€śI'm not going to try to compete with the players in my group,â€ť Chian said. â€śI get nervous, but I can stay calm if I sing a song in my head or something.â€ť
Hyun Seok Lim of Fullerton, Calif., Ravi Patel of Naperville, Ill., and Shunsuke Sonoda of Tokyo, Japan, are tied for third after finishing the second round with 147 tournament totals.
In the Girls Division, Kaneko played steady golf and rattled off three birdies to give her a nine-stroke cushion heading into the final round. Kaneko said she'll be trying to win, but pars are good enough in any final round.
â€śIf I have birdie [opportunities], I'll try to make them, but I just want to play safe and try my best tomorrow,â€ť Kaneko said.
Kaneko, who is originally from Japan, said that winning the TEE UP Junior Challenge would mean a great deal because of its impact on the Japanese golf community. TEE UP is a Japanese golf magazine based out of the Los Angeles area that highlights Japanese professionals and junior golfers.
â€śThis is my first AJGA tournament,â€ť Kaneko said, â€śand it would be special to me as a Japanese person because other Japanese people will know about it.â€ť
Kristen Schelling of Mesa, Ariz., Lizette Salas of Azusa, Calif., and Lee Lopez of Whittier, Calif., are all tied for second with 150 tournament totals.
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 an annual membership (boys and girls) of more than 5,000 juniors from 49 states and more than 25 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 is in its third decade of AJGA 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 Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.
The final round of the TEE UP Junior Challenge will begin Monday, September 4 with tee times starting at 7 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information on the TEE UP Junior Challenge, contact tournament headquarters at (925) 735-4253 ext. 116, or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.