DORSEY AND SPARKS BATTLE BACK FROM EARLY-ROUND STRUGGLES TO LEAD AT THE VALERO TEXAS OPEN JUNIOR SHOOTOUT PRESENTED BY PEPSI
Bretcher eagles her way into a share of the lead with Thomas
SAN ANTONIO — The old saying “it isn't about the way you start, but the way you finish” was especially pertinent Tuesday for Drew Dorsey of Edmond, Okla., and Hunter Sparks of Oklahoma City, as both stumbled out of the gates with opening-hole blunders, but rebounded nicely to post 3-under-par 69s and claim a two-shot first-round lead at the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout presented by Pepsi at The Dominion Country Club. Chelsea Bretcher of Austin, Texas, and Chessey Thomas of Spokane, Wash., used rounds of 1-over-par 73 to tie for the lead in the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout presented by Pepsi is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at The Dominion Country Club. The tournament field consists of 90 boys and 30 girls, ages 12 to 18, from 13 states, Mexico and Thailand. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 6,848 yards, while the Girls Division is playing the course at 6,164 yards.
Dorsey's round got off to a slow start, bogeying par-4 No. 1, but quickly returned to level par with a birdie on the par-4 No. 2 and followed with six more birdies on the day. Dorsey, who will tee it up for Texas Tech University in the fall, especially dominated the par-5s of The Dominion Country Club, making birdie on three of the courses' four, which contributed to the seven he made on the day.
“I started off kind of weird with five birdies on the front and bogeys on Nos. 1 and 5. I'd either hit it close or miss the green, but I'm happy with it,” Dorsey said. “Hopefully, I can keep it going for the rest of the week. I just have to keep hitting it in play and hit my wedges close because it's not that long.”
Sparks, who will play collegiate golf at Wichita State University in the fall, cruised through the first three holes at even-par before hitting a snag with a double bogey on No. 4. However, Sparks wouldn't let that stop him from posting an under-par round, as he went on to make three consecutive birdies on Nos. 7-9, which was highlighted by an iron shot to five inches on the par-3 No. 8, and two birdies on the back.
“I started off a little slow with a double bogey on No. 4, but I got a shot back on No. 7. Then, No. 8 was really key for me because I almost holed it to get back to even par, so that was probably the turning point of my round,” Sparks said. “I really hit the ball well today and didn't do any thing stupid, which is the key on this course because if you hit it in the fairway you can make some birdies.”
C.J. Kim of Chandler, Ariz., Wesley McClain of Diboll, Texas, and Chase Griggs of Edmond, Okla., round out the top five in a tie for 3rd at 1-under-par 71.
Bretcher got off to about the best start possible, holing out from the fairway on No. 1 for an eagle and quickly jumping to the top of the leaderboard. Although, she didn't see the eagle go in, it was just the confidence booster she needed for the remainder of the round, as she went on to make a bevy of pars and a birdie on No. 12, but she hit a snag with bogeys on Nos. 13, 15 and 18.
“I didn't hit a great drive, and I was in the rough about 150 yards away. I hit a great iron shot in, and I didn't see it go in, but it went in,” Bretcher said. “It gave me a lot of confidence, and I had a really solid front nine. On the back nine, I got a little lazy and tired on a few shots, but I think it was a good round overall.”
Thomas' round lacked the first-hole fireworks of Bretcher, but she played solid throughout the day, hitting 12 fairways and 16 greens and positioning herself in a two-way tie for first.
“I didn't do anything too great, but I did a lot of things pretty well,” Thomas said. “I played consistently all day, and I hit 16 greens and 12 fairways. I really minimized mistakes by only hitting driver four times all day.”
Although Thomas and Bretcher hold the first-round lead, they will have little breathing room when second-round play commences Wednesday as Marijosse Navarro of San Antonio, Desiree Dubreuil of Santa Ana, Calif., Regina Alonso of Huixquilucan, Mexico, and Sandra Lee of Carrollton, Texas, sit just one shot back of the two co-leaders at 2-over-par 74 and have their eyes set on the leaders.
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 50 states and more than 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 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 350 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.
The second-round of the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout presented by Pepsi begins Wednesday, July 8 with tee times running off the No. 1 tee from 7:30 a.m. — 2:00 p.m. For more information, please contact Tournament Director Courtney Jones at (678) 617-9406.