Abilene Country Club
Abilene, Texas • July 13 - 16

Grice stays steady, breaking away from the field for five-shot lead in the Girls Division

ABILENE, Texas β€” Michael Schoolcraft of Englewood, Colo., took the coveted position at the top of a crowded leaderboard on Thursday after shooting a 1-under-par 71 to take a one-shot lead at the Bob Estes Abilene Junior with a 2-under-par 142 tournament total. Casey Grice of College Station, Texas, battled the consistent, morning Texas gusts to shoot an even-par 72 in the second round Wednesday, surging out to a five-shot lead in the Girls Division at Abilene Country Club β€” Fairway Course.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Bob Estes Abilene Junior is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Abilene Country Club β€” Fairway Course. The tournament field consists of 101 boys and 39 girls, ages 13 to 18, from 14 states, Thailand, New Zealand, and Mexico. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 7,076 yards, while the Girls Division is playing the course at 6,147 yards.

Despite steadily climbing up the leaderboard throughout the day to secure the second-round lead, Schoolcraft couldn't help walking off the golf course with a bitter taste in his mouth. That is because following a birdie on the par-4 No. 7, he entered his final two holes at 4-under-par but finished with a four-putt for a double bogey on No. 8 and a bogey on the par-5 No. 9, nullifying three of the five birdies he made on the day. Combine the three-over-par two-hole stretch with a missed two-foot par putt on his opening hole, No. 10 in the two-tee start, and Schoolcraft believes he gave away four shots on the day, which he says will give him increased motivation as he enters the final round on Thursday.

β€œJust the way I finished, I'm not too pleased, but overall, I'm happy with my overall score,” Schoolcraft said. β€œI played pretty consistently until the end, and I'll definitely use those last two holes as added motivation for the final round.”

Thursday's final round won't be easy for Schoolcraft, though, as Curtis Reed of Castroville, Texas, John Antle of Graham, Texas, and Ben Bankhead of McKinney, Texas, loom just one shot back of Schoolcraft in a tie for second at 1-under-par 143 and are eager to gain their first AJGA title. Kyle Westmoreland of Katy, Texas, and Taylor Moore of Edmond, Okla., are within striking distance of Schoolcraft, just two shots back in a tie for fifth at even-par 144.

All day Grice used her length to drive it over the doglegs, leaving her with short wedges into the holes and numerous short birdie opportunities. Although Grice believes she could have scored better, her even-par round, complete with two birdies and two bogeys, was the second best round of the day in the Girls Division and helped her to gain the five-shot lead she owns entering the final round on Thursday.

β€œIt was a solid round today. I felt like I was kind of fighting it, and I was never in a groove. I did not hit the ball as well as I did yesterday, but I made a couple of good birdies and up and downs,” Grice said. β€œI had lots of opportunities to score today, and I probably didn't score as well as I could have, but I was steady all day.”

Ryanne Haddow of Sugar Land, Texas, made a substantial move up the leaderboard on Tuesday, posting the only under-par round of the day in the Girls Division - 1-under-par 71 - to climb into a tie for second with Kaylin Terry of Austin, Texas, at 5-over-par 149 for the tournament.

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.

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Final-round tee times for the Bob Estes Abilene Junior will run off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees from 7:00 a.m.- 8:30 a.m. For more information about the Bob Estes Abilene Junior, please contact Tournament Director A.J. Donaldson at (678) 386-1487.

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