MERKULOV GOES LOW, LEADS AFTER FIRST ROUND OF LESSING'S AJGA CLASSIC
Kamelgarn leads Girls Division at Island Hills Golf Club
SAYVILLE, N.Y. — Yaroslav Merkulov of Penfield, N.Y. shot a first-round total of 4-under-par 67 to capture the lead after day one of the Lessing's AJGA Classic at Island Hills Golf Club. In the Girls Division, Marisa Kamelgarn of Mahopac, N.Y., was the only girl to break par when she carded a 2-under-par 69.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Lessing's AJGA Classic is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Island Hills Golf Club. The 99-player field features players from 15 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and Mexico. The Boys Division is being played at 6,469 yards, while the Girls Division is being played at 6,003 yards.
Merkulov, 16, had a rollercoaster front nine, trading birdie for bogey before carding birdies on two of the final three holes of the front half. Those holes set the tone for the rest of his round and he recorded two more birdies on the back nine.
“Early on, I missed an easy putt and in the past I would have blown up and let it affect me,” Merkulov said. “Today I just told myself to keep plugging and forget about it and it helped convince me to play my game.”
On Merkulov's heels is Andrew Lane of Fairport, N.Y. with a 3-under-par 68. In a four-way tie for third are Ford Fischer of Dallas, Texas, Luke Feehan of Carmel, N.Y., Alex Edfort of Somerset, N.Y., Jonathan Renza of Cortlandt Manor, N.Y. and local golfer Michael Furci of Sayville, N.Y. each having recorded a 2-under-par 69.
Kamelgarn, 16, began the day much like Merkulov, shooting 2-under-par 34 on the front nine. She traded birdie for bogey twice during the back nine, finishing the last half with an even-par 35. Her superb round was highlighted by a birdie on the par-4 No. 18. After hitting her second shot to within 10 feet of the flagstick, Kamelgarn sank the putt to cement an under-par performance and the first-round lead.
“Everything was good today. I hit a lot of fairways and my putting was great,” Kamelgarn said. “I don't want to change anything tomorrow, I just want to stay positive and concentrate on each shot as it comes.”
Two strokes behind Kamelgarn is Kristin Allard of Porterville, Calif., who recorded an even-par 71. Tied for third are Isabel Han of Lake Mary, Fla., and Brittany Altomare of Shrewsbury, Mass., each having shot a 1-over-par 72.
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 25 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.
Second-round tee times for the Lessing's AJGA Classic will run from 7 a.m. — 12:20 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Island Hills Golf Club. For more information, please contact Tournament Director Greg Sanfilippo at (678) 936-0163 or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.