KROPP, LUA TAKE LEAD INTO FINAL ROUND AT THUNDERBIRD INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR
Both shoot second-round 2-under-par 70s at Grayhawk Golf Club
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — William Kropp of Edmond, Okla., will take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Thunderbird International Junior after shooting a 2-under-par 70 on Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course Sunday. In the Girls Division, Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif., also shot a 2-under-par 70 for a three-shot lead going into Monday.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Thunderbird International Junior features 78 players from 17 states and 11 foreign countries. The field consists of 48 boys and 30 girls, ages 12-18, and includes 45 Rolex Junior All-Americans. Played on Grayhawk Golf Club, home of the PGA TOUR's Frys.com Open, the par-72 course measures 7,112 yards for the boys and 6,275 yards for the girls.
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 73rd year. The FBR Open recently raised more than $7 million for charity in just one year.
Kropp began his day on No. 10 with a birdie but was not able to turn that into lasting momentum. He made the turn at 34 after carding two additional birdies and one bogey. After completing his final nine holes at even-par, Kropp sits at 6-under-par 138 for the tournament.
“I wasn't able to get my momentum going,” said the three-time Rolex Junior All-American. “On the par-4, No. 15, I hit my drive to within eight feet for an eagle opportunity. I was sure I was going to get something going at that point, but then left it three feet short.”
Playing in his last AJGA event before attending the University of Georgia in the fall, Kropp saved par after chipping his third shot to four feet on his final hole of the day.
“My chipping helped me a lot today,” Kropp said. “Tomorrow I'm hoping to go out and act like I'm starting from scratch. Tomorrow is a new round with no added pressure.”
In a three-way tie for second are Matthew Haines of Chatham, England, Mu Hu of Shen Zhen, China, and Jordan Spieth of Dallas, who all played in the same pairing Sunday. They are all two shots back of Kropp with a 4-under-par 140 tournament total. In a tie for fifth are Pontus Widegren of Danderyd, Sweden, and first-round leader Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., with 3-under-par 141s. Widegren fired a 5-under-par 67 Sunday, to tie the low round for the day in the Boys Division.
In the Girls Division, Lua practiced patience on the front nine and was 2-under-par after 10 holes. She had a slight misstep on No. 11, carding a double bogey, but made up for it with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14. In her first event back after taking some time off, Lua was pleased with her success thus far.
“I sprained my ankle and haven't played in about a month,” said the three-time Rolex Junior All-American. “I am very surprised about how I'm playing, but am excited about it.”
First-round leader Marika Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., and Stacey Kim of Columbus, Ga., played in the same pairing with Lua. All three traded the lead throughout the day.
“It was really exciting going back and forth all day,” said Lua. “I really enjoyed playing in a group with good players. They made the day interesting.”
Lendl shares second place with Stephanie Kono of Honolulu. They will tee off in the final Girls Division group Monday with Lua after firing 1-over-par 145s.
Final-round tee times will begin off the first and 10th tees at 7:15 a.m. The leader group of boys will tee off No. 1 at 9:03 a.m. while girls' leaders begin at 8 a.m. off No. 1.
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 junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 foreign countries.
As in the past, Callaway Golf will lend its support to the event. Other major sponsors are the Thunderbirds, the Phil and Amy Mickelson Charitable Fund, Grayhawk Golf Club and the FBR Open.
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.