DEFENDING CHAMPION TOLAN
GRASPS FIRST ROUND LEAD
Cavener takes three-shot lead in Girls Division
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Defending AJGA Southwestern Junior Classic champion Derek Tolan of Highlands Ranch, Colo., fired a 4-under-par 68 in the first round of the annual event held Wednesday. Michaela Cavener of Ponca City, Okla., leads the Girls Division after one round.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Southwestern Junior Classic features 102 players representing 20 states, Canada, Peru and Puerto Rico. The 54-hole tournament is being contested at the par-72 Isleta Eagle Golf Course in Albuquerque May 27-30.
Tolan, who qualified for the 2002 U.S. Open, holds a one-shot lead over Chase Watkins of Fort Collins, Colo. The defending champion, who admitted he has struggled with his game as of late, said he was pleased after Wednesday's strong showing.
"I told myself, no matter what I have to do I am just going to put the ball in the hole with whatever I have," said Tolan shortly after completing the first round of his title defense. "I started hitting some good shots, started getting some confidence, and started to feel more comfortable."
A solid cast of characters looms behind Tolan going into the second round, including the aforementioned Watkins, who took Isleta Eagle by storm firing a 32 on the front nine. Watkins went on to finish with a 3-under-par 69. Two more players are lurking just two shots behind Tolan, including Will Osborne of Wichita Falls, Texas and Chad Wilcox of Peoria, Ariz. Wilcox, who won the Scott Robertson Memorial earlier this month, began his round with three consecutive birdies en route to a round of 2-under-par 70.
In the Girls Division, Cavener darted out to a 3-shot lead after carding a 3-under-par 69. Cavener recorded three consecutive birdies on hole Nos. 4, 5 and 6, serving as a catalyst for the rest of her first round.
"I was making putts that I normally don't, but it compensated for me not hitting my driver good," Cavener said. "I never hit one solid drive the whole round."
Among those trailing Cavener include Kelly Nakashima of Wailuku, Hawaii, who fired an even-par 72. Santa Fe native Alyssa Otero, who finished in the top 10 at this event in each of the last four years, completed the first round tied for third place with four others after shooting a 1-over-par 73.
Second-round tee times will begin Thursday at 7 a.m. For more information on the AJGA Southwestern Juinior Classic, please contact tournament headquarters at (505) 869-0950.