Butler Records Lowest Round of Field to Start AJGA Junior at Steelwood presented by AT&T
Boys Division locked in a four-way tie after first round
LOXLEY, Ala. — Michelle Butler of Dunedin, Fla., jumped ahead to an early first-round lead, shooting 4-under-par 68 on the day. Myles Lewis of New Orleans, Jake McBride of Hartville, Ohio, Michael Pisciotta of Alpharetta, Ga., and Robby Prater of Birmingham, Ala., share the lead in the Boys Division, all at 2-under-par 70.
The AJGA Junior at Steelwood Presented by AT&T is a 54-hole stroke play event conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Steelwood Country Club in Loxley, Ala. The tournament field boasts 72 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 10 states and two countries. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 6,995 yards and the Girls Division is playing at 5,932 yards.
Butler, who started her round with five birdies on the front nine, is playing in this tournament for her third consecutive year. Starting at the University of Missouri in the fall, this is her last summer of AJGA eligibility.
“I just have to keep playing my own game,” Butler said. “I'm not going to worry about the other scores and what other girls are doing. I just wanted to shoot a low score.”
Rounding out the top three for the girls were Katie Page of Louisville, Ky., with an even-par 72, and Lauren Salazar of Santa Clara, Calif., with a 1-over-par 73.
In the Boys Division, the competition was close. Lewis had four total birdies on the day.
“I really just wanted to keep it in play,” Lewis said. “This is a demanding course, and I was happy that I didn't have too many mistakes.”
McBride hit an eagle on No. 9 to sneak back into contention and really got his momentum going heading into the back nine.
“I was one over going into No. 9, then got the eagle on 9 and it just turned the day around for me,” McBride said. “It feels pretty special [to be in the lead.] I know that there are a lot of really great golfers out here, so to be on top really means something.”
Pisciotta also had four birdies. His last finish in AJGA competition was when he placed third at the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Junior All-Star at Château Élan. “This is my first AJGA Open event. I worked really hard for it, and it feels great,” Piscotta said. “My goal was to shoot under par all three days. I hope to continue, keep it going, and do better.”
Prater birdied his last two holes of the round to move into the four-way tie atop the leaderboard.
“On No. 17, I hit the best 4-iron shot that I've ever hit, which put me about 15 feet from the hole. That is a narrow and tough green, and I was happy to make the putt,” Prater said. “I feel really great. I've never been leading an AJGA event, and they are the best tournaments in the country, so it is a good feeling.”
Tied for fifth in the Boys Division, are A.J. Crouch of Jacksonville, Fla., and Wesley Gosselin of Knoxville, Tenn., with a 1-under-par 71.
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 about the AJGA Junior at Steelwood Presented by AT&T, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (678) 315-3446.