Rodgers Jumps to the Lead at Rolex Tournament of Champions
Hole-in-one helps Park maintain lead in Girls Division at Blessings Golf Club
JOHNSON, Ark. — Patrick Rodgers of Avon, Ind., recorded a 3-under-par 69 to take over the lead Thursday at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, bringing his three-day tournament total to 2-under-par 214. Kristen Park of Buena Park, Calif., shot a 1-over-par 73 to stay atop the Girls Division with a three-day total of 219.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Rolex Tournament of Champions is a 72-hole stroke play event held at Blessings Golf Club. The 132-player field features 72 boys and 60 girls from 28 states, Colombia, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand and the Philippines. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 7,235 yards and the Girls Division is playing at 6,133 yards.
Despite the difficult course, Rodgers came into the third round determined to stay on par for each hole. He exceeded that expectation by scoring three birdies on the front nine.
“It's the toughest course I've ever seen, but you have to be patient around here,” Rodgers said. “You have to realize that you can't avoid bogeys, but you have to stay positive.”
Anthony Paolucci of Del Mar, Calif., trails closely behind in second place at 1-under-par 215. Drew Czuchry of Auburn, Ga., is in third place at even-par 216, followed by Will Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, at 2-over-par 218. Tied for fifth place at 5-over-par 221 are David Lee of Houston, Texas, and Gavin Hall of Pittsford, N.Y.
In the Girls Division, Park approached the 15th tee with a one-stroke lead, but carded her first competitive hole-in-one. With her 6-iron in hand, Park's aim on the 160-yard par 3 was right on target.
“The green was sloped so I had to hit it a little right of the pin,” Park said. “I hit it perfectly and it just rolled in.”
When Park closed out her round with her third consecutive 73, she held a two-stroke lead over Emily Tubert of Burbank, Calif., and Rachel Morris of Carlsbad, Calif., who are tied for second place at 5-over-par 221.
Moriya Jutanugarn fired the day's low round, a 5-under-par 67, lifting her up to fourth place entering Friday's final round.
Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. Along with sponsoring the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Rolex is also the title partner of the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the proprietors of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams.
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 provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. 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. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
Final-round tee times will run from 7 — 10:40 a.m. off No. 1 tee. For more information about the Rolex Tournament of Champions, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (678) 617-9917, or visit the AJGA website at ajga.org.