McInerney fires second-round 69 to take command at The PING Invitational
Kim birdies four of final five holes to take over Girls Division lead at Karsten Creek
STILLWATER, Okla. — AJ McInerney of Henderson, Nev., and Kyung Kim of Chandler, Ariz., surged into the lead after a rainy, but wind-free, second round at The PING Invitational.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, The PING Invitational is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla. The 72-player field features players from 21 states, Colombia, France, Thailand, China, South Korea, Sweden, Hong Kong and Mexico. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 layout at 7,388 yards, while the Girls Division is playing at 6,291 yards.
After a windy opening round saw higher-than-normal scores, a calmer morning with intermittent rain showers provided more hospitable scoring conditions in the second round. McInerney took advantage, firing the day's low round, making four birdies en route to a 3-under-par 69.
“I hit it close on No. 1 and made the putt, and I made a 15-footer on 9, so I birdied both the par 5s on the front,” McInerney said. “Then I made a 20-footer on 16 and two-putted for birdie on 18 (after reaching the par 5 in two).”
With rounds of 74-69, McInerney was one of the few players able to put together good scores in both the windy first round and rainy second round.
“I think over the summer I got used to playing in the rain (Rolex Tournament of Champions and U.S. Junior Amateur), because I was never used to playing in the rain back home,” he said. “And it's windy everyday in Vegas, so I'm used to that.”
With a two-day total of 1-under-par 143, McInerney holds a four-stroke lead over Taylor Moore of Edmond, Okla., and Matthew NeSmith of North Augusta, S.C., who stand at 3-over-par 147. A three-way tie for fourth includes first-round leader Wyndham Clark, who followed up his 3-under-par 69 in the first round with an 8-over-par 80. Also tied for fourth are Vincent Martino of Southlake, Texas, and Shun Yat Hak of Hong Kong.
In the Girls Division, Kyung Kim saved her best for the end, as she reeled off four birdies over the final five holes to vault into a one-shot lead over two other players. It is familiar territory for Kim, who led after the first and second rounds at the 2010 PING Invitational before finishing in a tie for second place.
“Yesterday was tough, club selection-wise,” Kim said regarding the 20-30 mph winds. The favorable change in weather enabled her to “definitely go for the pin.” Even so, it wasn't until No. 14 before she sank her first birdie putt. After that she was lights out, making her final birdie on the par-5 18th to claim a one-shot lead over Gabriella Then of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Jaye Marie Green of Boca Raton, Fla. If Kim is to win her first AJGA Invitational, she will need to fend off a pair of major champions, as Then won the 2011 Rolex Tournament of Champions, and Green won the 2010 Polo Golf Junior Classic.
Final-round tee times run 8-9:50 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Karsten Creek. For more information on The PING Invitational, please contact AJGA Tournament Headquarters at (405) 533-8181.
The tournament title partner, PING, designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. The family-owned company was founded in 1959 by the late Karsten Solheim. Solheim is the only person to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a golf club manufacturer. Today, the Phoenix-based company is under the direction of Solheim's youngest son, John A. Solheim. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.ping.com.
About the American Junior Golf Association
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.
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.