McDaniel and Valentino tied for first, Mao up by two strokes
Early birdies enough to hang onto first round lead
RINGGOLD, Ga. — Tyler McDaniel of Manchester, Ky., and Albano Valentino of San Juan, Argentina, both posted a 3-under-par 67 to share the lead after the first round of the Evitt Foundation RTC Junior All-Star in Ringgold, Ga. Janet Mao of Johns Creek, Ga., shot a 1-over-par 71 to lead the Girls Division.
The Evitt Foundation RTC Junior All-Star is one of 10 events in the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series. Specifically designed for boys and girls ages 12-15, the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series presents opportunities for younger members to develop their skills and earn entry into AJGA Open tournaments. The Series concludes with the Montverde Academy Junior All-Star Invitational over Columbus Day weekend for winners and top finishers in Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series events. The 95-player field features 72 boys and 23 girls from 16 states, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina. The Boys Division is playing the par-70 layout at 6,349 yards and the Girls Division is playing at 5,660 yards.
Valentino started off strong, birdying two of his first four holes.
“That was wonderful,” he said. “I played good, but I was very lucky today.”
McDaniel birdied his first two holes and finished with three birdies total, but his eagle on the front nine was his shining moment.
“I played No. 9 very well,” he said. “I didn't really go for much, I just played conservative. I can't believe I tapped in an eagle.”
Tied for third place are Bernardo Curbelo from Bradenton, Fla., Sam Burns of Shreveport, La., William Martinez of Austin, Texas, and William Register of Burlington, N.C., who all carded a 2-under-par 68.
Mao also began the first round with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 1 and 2, when she sank her putts from just off the putting green.
“Those birdies were really unexpected,” she said. “I just wanted to get in close. I never expected to do anything like that.”
In second place is Taylor Tomlinson of Gainesville, Fla., with a 3-over-par 73. In a five-way tie for third place are Bailey Tardy of Norcross, Ga., Kaley In of Bakersfield, Calif., Payton Schanen of Kennesaw, Ga., Sabrina Long of Alpharetta, Ga., and Christina Yang of Suwanee, Ga., each with a 4-over-par 74.
GARY GILCHRIST GOLF ACADEMY, a full-time signature golf instruction program located in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., began as an Official Partner of the AJGA in 2009. The partnership features an endowment of an Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant and naming rights to the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series for juniors ages 12-15.
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 more than 40 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. Rolex, 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. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 500 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel.
For more information on the Evitt Foundation RTC Junior All-Star, please contact AJGA National Headquarters at (770) 868-4200.