WINTHER GOES LOW FOR LEAD AT AJGA CLIFFS CHAMPIONSHIP
Stackhouse carries two-shot advantage into final round in Girls Division
SALEM, S.C. — Patrick Winther of Rungsted Kyst, Denmark, fired an opening round 6-under-par 66 to claim the top of the leaderboard in the Boys Division at the AJGA Cliffs Championship Saturday. In the Girls Division, Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale, Ga., will take a two-shot lead into the final round after posting a 2-under-par 70.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Cliffs Championship is a 36-hole stroke play event being held at the Cliffs at Keowee Falls. The tournament field consists of 51 boys and 27 girls, ages 12 to 18, from 18 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Northern Ireland and Denmark. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 layout at 6,808 yards, while the Girls Division is playing the course at 5,969 yards.
Starting on No. 10, the 15-year-old Winther ran off a streak of four consecutive birdies, from Nos. 11 to 14, en route to an opening-nine total of 4-under-par 32. He credited the hot start as the confidence boost he needed to post a low number.
“I usually have some problems with bad starts,” Winther said. “At the beginning of the round, I hit some good shots and I felt more positive. After that I made some putts and just kept going from there.”
After a bogey on No. 1, his 10th hole of the day, Winther rebounded with birdies on Nos. 2 and 5 for a second-nine 2-under-par 34. Playing in just his third AJGA event, Winther has more than his lead to prepare for heading into the final round.
“I need to do some homework tonight,” Winther said. “I'm a little bit behind on school because I missed a week of classes.”
T.J. Vogel of Cooper City, Fla., sits alone in second after a 4-under-par 68. Richard Werenski of South Hadley, Mass., is third at 3-under-par 69. Justin Thomas of Goshen, Ky., and Philip Choi of Orlando, Fla., round out the top five after 1-under-par 71s.
Stackhouse, an alternate into the field, found out on Thursday morning that she would have the opportunity to play this weekend. Competing in her first open event, Stackhouse opened with a birdie on the first hole and carded a bogey-free front-nine total of 2-under-par 34.
“I had been practicing six-foot putts on the green before the round and only had eight feet left on No. 1,” Stackhouse said. “I hit it just like I had practiced and it fell for me.”
After making the turn in red figures, Stackhouse relied on her putter to get her into the clubhouse with the first-round lead, closing with six straight pars for an even-par 36 on the back nine.
“I made a lot of par putts between three and five feet,” Stackhouse said. “It was one of those days where you make some putts and it builds confidence. I had confidence early and the putts fell.”
Casey Ann Kennedy of Venice, Fla., and Annie Park of Levittown, N.Y., are two shots back and share second after opening rounds of even-par 72.
After Saturday's first round, The Cliffs Communities donated $5,000 to the AJGA's Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant. This is in addition to the monies raised during Friday's Junior-Am Fundraising Tournament, which paired local amateur golfers with one of the talented juniors competing in the 36-hole weekend championship. As a result of the AJGA Cliffs Championship Junior-Am, Zest Quest, Linking Girls to Golf and the ACE Grant shared $20,000.
The Cliffs at Keowee Falls is the second Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and one of eight courses in The Cliffs' collection. Located at the southernmost edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the shores of Lake Keowee, the 160-acre Keowee Falls golf course features rolling, mountainous terrain and spectacular views and marries a challenging par-72, 7,171-yard layout with the incomparable aesthetics of a pure, core golf experience.
Named the “World's Best International Development” by the CNBC International Property Awards, The Cliffs is a collection of eight luxury communities in the Carolina Preserve, a region that enjoys a mild, four-season climate and encompasses hundreds of thousands of acres of protected parklands at the southernmost edge of The Blue Ridge Mountains between Asheville, N.C., and Greenville, S.C. The Cliffs are known for their renowned golf course designs and a unique membership that offers an unequaled variety of amenities, programs, services and opportunities in the Carolinas as well as at The Cliffs' destination properties around the world. Founded on enduring principles of stewardship, their communities create an atmosphere of conservation, philanthropy and wellness that results in a partnership between The Cliffs' associates and property owners.
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 AJGA, the largest Association of its kind, has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 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 is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
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, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
Final-round tee times for the AJGA Cliffs Championship will run from 8 a.m. to 9:48 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information, please call AJGA Tournament Headquarters at (864) 944-5855 or visit the AJGA Web site ajga.org.