Rivercut Golf Course
Springfield, Mo. • July 27 - 30

Choi steals lead away from three, leads Girls Division at Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Harry Higgs of Overland Park, Kan., and Hunter Kraus of Germantown, Tenn., have officially made the top of the Boys Division leaderboard a crowded room by joining the sole round-one occupant, Reid Holly of Madison, Miss., at 7-under-par 137 through two rounds of competition. A Ram Choi of Surrey, British Columbia, stole the lead from the three first-round co-leaders when she brought a 2-under-par 70 to the scoring tent and signed for a two round total of even-par 144.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Rivercut Golf Course in Springfield, Mo. The tournament field consists of 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 20 states and Canada. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 Rivercut Golf Course at 6,962 yards and the Girls Division is playing at 6,010 yards.

Though Higgs birdied Nos. 1 and 3 to open Wednesday's second round, he wasn't too thrilled with himself after three-putting from eight feet on the par-3 No. 6. The bogey dropped him back to even-par on the day.

“I was a little frustrated, angry at myself there [after No. 6],” Higgs said. “I settled down a little bit and I remembered I'm still under par for the round.”

The deep breaths seemed to give him a lift as he watched his marker's pencil turn red on his scorecard for Nos. 9, 17 and 18 en route to signing for a 3-under-par 69.

Kraus took advantage of one of his better drives of the tournament when he followed his straight-and-long tee shot with a beautiful approach that left him five feet for eagle on the par-5 No. 5. He took the momentum to the back nine where he found four birdies on Nos. 10, 11, 13 and 16, allowing him to sign for a 4-under-par 68. However, he's not writing an acceptance speech just yet.

“I'm just going to take it shot by shot,” Kraus said. “I've never been in this situation before at this kind of an event.”

Reid continued his merciless attack on the Rivercut Golf Course greens, hitting 13 in regulation and putting only 29 times. In doing so, he picked up four birdies and carded a 2-under-par 70. Like Kraus, though, he's not willing to get ahead of himself.

“I'm not really a big scoreboard watcher,” Reid said. “I'm just going to go out and beat the course again. I think three rounds under par would be outstanding.”

Alone in fourth is Matthew Mabrey of Little Rock, Ark., who sits two shots off the pace at 5-under-par 139. Tied for fifth at 4-under-par 140 are Jeffrey Lee of Overland Park, Kan., and Ian Vandersee of West Des Moines, Iowa.

In the Girls Division, Choi used precision with her woods and irons, hitting 12 fairways and 15 greens in regulation. Unlike Tuesday, when Choi struggled to finish her birdie chances, she capitalized on four during her second round.

“I had a lot of birdie chances yesterday that I couldn't make,” Choi said. “Today, I could — I was more confident from practicing (for 45 minutes) in the morning.”

Trailing by only one stroke at 1-over-par 145 is Devon Brown of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Gabriella Then of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is in the clubhouse at 3-over-par 147 and sits alone in third.

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.

Final-round tee times for the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship will run from 7:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. off the No.1 tee Thursday, July 30, at Rivercut Golf Course. For more information, please call Tournament Headquarters at (678) 617-9406.

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