Bogey-free 67 gives Puyat two-shot lead at Thunderbird International Junior
Karen Chung, Simin Feng lead Girls Division after Saturday's first round
BRASELTON, Ga. — Marcel Puyat of Indio, Calif., carded five birdies during an opening-round 67 and leads by two shots after the first round of the Thunderbird International Junior. In the Girls Division, Simin Feng of Orlando, Fla., and Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J., recorded matching 68s and share the lead entering Sunday's second round at Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 12th annual Thunderbird International Junior is a 54-hole stroke play event being played at Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course. The 78-player field features 48 boys and 30 girls, ages 12-18, from 17 states and 16 countries. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 layout at 7,112 yards and the Girls Division is playing at 6,275 yards.
An honorable mention Rolex Junior All-American in 2010, Puyat said course knowledge helped him post his round of 67, the lowest of his AJGA career.
“I'm definitely happy to put up this round, especially for a first round,” said Puyat, who finished T31 at the 2010 Thunderbird International Junior. “I didn't expect to play this well but I'll take it, I'm really happy with the score I posted today.”
Grayson Murray of Raleigh, N.C., and Jay Hwang of San Diego are tied for second after carding rounds of 69, while five players are tied for fourth at 1-under-par 71, four shots off the pace.
In the Girls Division, Simin Feng has returned to Grayhawk Golf Club with a vengeance. After finishing 29th in 2010, Feng finds herself at the other end of the leaderboard following seven birdies during her round of 68.
“Last year was really tough for me, especially after this tournament,” Feng said. “My confidence level is really high now and I really could become better and better in the next couple months, and I'm excited to see what I do.”
Feng said that she learned a lot in March at the Queen Sirikit Cup, a women's amateur team event held in India where her Chinese-Taipei team finished third.
“I really learned more strategy. At that tournament, I learned how to put my shots where it's best for me,” Feng said, who will travel back home to China at the conclusion of this event.
Chung, a three-time Rolex Junior All-American, shares the lead and is seeking her fourth career AJGA victory. Lurking two shots back is two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year Victoria Tanco of Bradenton, Fla., as well as Ashlan Ramsey of Milledgeville, Ga., and Kendall Prince of Lake Oswego, Ore.
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.
As in the past, Callaway Golf will lend its support to the event. Other major sponsors are the Thunderbirds, the Phil and Amy Mickelson Charitable Fund, Grayhawk Golf Club.
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.
Second-round tee times will run from 7:15 — 9:15 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course. For more information, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (480) 502-3181, or visit ajga.org.