COOVER CAPTURES FIRST ROUND
LEAD AT LAS VEGAS
Choe, Lee share top spot in Girls Division
BOULDER CITY, Nev. — Erik Coover
of Scottsdale, Ariz., raced to the opening-day lead in the
Boys Division at the Sprint Junior Golf Championship hosted
by the Las Vegas Founders with a 5-under-par 67. Esther Choe
of La Quinta, Calif., and Jennie Lee of Huntington Beach,
Calif., share the lead in the Girls Division, shooting 1-under-par
71s to gain a two-stroke lead over the field.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 54-hole event is being held at the par-72 Boulder Creek Golf Club. The field features 84 players, ages 13-18, from eight states, including 12 Las Vegas-area residents.
The 16-year-old Coover started strong, carding a birdie on the 378-yard, par-4 first hole and an eagle on the 508-yard, par-5 fifth hole to finish the front nine at 3-under-par. After hitting 17 greens in regulation and having only 32 putts for the day, Coover sits atop the leaderboard with a 67.
Coover qualified for the tournament on Sunday afternoon and looks to score his first top-10 finish this week in Boulder City.
"I've been playing really great the last couple of weeks," he said. "I'm really confident right now, so I'm looking forward to two more low rounds. You can go pretty low if the conditions are right and today we had perfect conditions."
Brett Kanda of La Crescenta, Calif., Chad Wilcox of Peoria, Ariz., and David McDaniel of Tucson, Ariz., are tied for second place with first-round scores of 68, trailing Coover by only one stroke.
Kanda had two birdies on the front nine and his highlight of the day came with an eagle on the 551-yard, par-5 13th hole.
"I played pretty solid. I had no three-putts, and I only missed one fairway. I didn't make many mistakes," Kanda said. "I want to play consistently tomorrow. I need to let it come to me, and not get too aggressive. I want to play just like today."
Wilcox had a hot streak on his back nine, carding birdies on Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 7, totaling six birdies for the day.
"This course will yield a lot of low scores," he said. "You can't afford to make many bogeys out here. I need to keep going low."
Also tied for second, McDaniel added first-round excitement with a hole-in-one on the 181-yard, par-3 12th hole en route to his 69 finish.
"I couldn't see it from the tee box," McDaniel said. "But I saw arms flying near the green and I knew it was great."
California natives, Tim Cha of Chino Hills, Ryan Block of Temecula, and Kyle Dowden of Somis, are tied for fifth place at 3-under-par 69.
In the Girls Division, Choe and Lee hold a two-stroke lead after first-round play.
Choe, 13, shaved four strokes off her Sunday qualifying-round score of 75 at Boulder Creek Golf Club. Choe played consistent golf Tuesday with only one bogey and two birdies.
"I am putting really well," Choe said. "I want to keep playing my game, hole-by-hole against the course."
Lee, 16, had four bogeys and five birdies Tuesday. Her 1-under-par round puts her in good position, but she still sees room for improvement.
"My score was okay, but I didn't play that great. I want to putt better, chip better, and just hit the ball better tomorrow," Lee said.
Tiffany Joh of San Diego, Calif., trails Choe and Lee in third place with a 1-over-par 73.
Second-round action continues at 7 a.m. Wednesday off the No. 1 and 10 tees at the Boulder Creek Golf Club. For more information about the AJGA Sprint Junior Golf Championship hosted by the Las Vegas Founders, please call tournament headquarters at (702) 294-6534 or visit ajga.org.
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