VONGVANIJ, KIMBERLY KIM EXTEND LEADS AT THUNDERBIRD INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR
Vongvanij leads by seven strokes, Kim by four strokes heading into final round at Grayhawk Golf Club
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rolex Junior All-Americans Arnond Vongvanij of Bradenton, Fla., and Kimberly Kim of Pahoa, Hawaii, both extended their leads Sunday during the second round of the Thunderbird International Junior. Vongvanij carded a 5-under-par 67 to go to 11-under-par for the tournament, while Kim posted an even-par 72 to take the lead by four strokes at 5-under-par 139 going into Monday's final round.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the eighth-annual Thunderbird International Junior is being held on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 7,113 yards, while the Girls Division is set up at 6,271 yards. The 78-player tournament field consists of 42 boys and 36 girls, ages 14-18, from 18 states, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, England, Germany, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and United Kingdom.
The Thunderbird International Junior annually attracts the top junior golfers in the world with 52 Rolex Junior All-Americans present this year. Past champions of the event include LPGA Tour players Virada Nirapathpongporn, Brittany Lang, and Morgan Pressel and PGA TOUR player Ryan Moore.
Vongvanij continued his solid play from the first round, carding a string of four consecutive birdies on hole Nos. 2-5, including a chip-in from the front fringe of the green on No. 5. He went on to bogey the par-4 sixth but quickly rebounded and birdied the following hole, to finish 4-under-par going into the 10th.
“I was just trying to hit green and make putts,” said Vongvanij, who went on to birdie three additional holes on the back nine, including the 521-yard, par-5 18th. “I am very fortunate that most of my putts dropped.”
Entering his freshman year at the University of Florida in the fall, Vongvanij is looking to close out his junior days with a victory at Grayhawk Golf Club.
“It would be awesome,” said Vongvanij of a win at the Thunderbird International Junior. “This is my last junior event so a win here would just be awesome.”
Seven shot shots back from Vongvanij are Bud Cauley of Jacksonville, Fla., and Scott Langley of St. Louis, who both posted two-day totals of 69-71—140 to sit tied in second. Kevin Tway of Edmond, Okla., carded a 3-under-par 69 to move from 13th place after the first round to fourth at 3-under-par 141 along with Wesley Graham of Port Orange, Fla., and Peter Uihlein of Bradenton, Fla.
In the Girls Division, Kim, who bogeyed two out of her first three holes, remained focused after slipping on No. 10, her first hole of the day. After misreading the hole location as the No. 1 hole, Kim said she felt nervous and uncomfortable at first.
“I had a good chip and putt to finish with a bogey on No. 10, but the pin placements were very hard today,” said the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur Champion Kim. “Yesterday I was hitting my shots close and making easy putts. Today I really had to think so I actually feel better about my round because I worked hard.”
The second-team Rolex Junior All-American remained consistent the remainder of the day to stay atop the leaderboard, carding mostly pars. She finished her round with birdies on Nos. 7 and 8, helping her finish at even-par 72 for the day and 5-under-par 139 heading into the final round.
“I've always been nervous at this tournament because it plays so hard,” Kim said. “To be leading is unbelievable and a win here would be great.”
Joanne Lee of San Carlos, Calif., made her move from fourth to second going into the final round after carding a 1-under-par 71 to go to 1-under-par 143 for the tournament. Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., posted a 74 for a two-day total of even-par 144, good enough for third.
Several past participants of the Thunderbird International Junior have gone to play in the FBR Open, the PGA TOUR event sponsored by The Thunderbirds each year. Ryan Moore, Anthony Kim, Hunter Mahan and Kevin Na all competed in the FBR Open, which is currently in its 72nd year. The FBR Open raised more than $14 million in two years for charity.
Final-round tee times will run from 7:15-9:03 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees of the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club. For more information on the Thunderbird International Junior, please contact tournament headquarters at (480) 502-3181.