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Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate
Overland Park, Kansas
July 27, 2003

Atkinson, Barton and Hoeper take top spots

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Bradley Atkinson of Rantoul, Ill., Ellen Hoeper of Kansas City, Mo., and Lila Barton of Dallas managed to go low despite the sweltering Kansas City heat, shooting 69 and 72s respectively. Atkinson took top honors in the Boys Division; while Hoeper and Barton shared the top spot in the Girls Division. Nine boys and three girls join Atkinson, Hoeper and Barton as they move into tournament play Tuesday.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, Sunday's shotgun qualifier featured a field of 78 boys and 13 girls from thirteen states.

Atkinson, 17, carded four birdies compared to one bogey en route to his 3-under-par 69.

Atkinson credits his iron-play for his success Sunday. With bunker shots on Nos. 1, 7, 15, 16 and 18, Atkinson says he was hitting the greens from every angle.

"I was making great contact with the ball today," Atkinson said. "I think I hit every green, even from the sand."

In his second career AJGA event, Atkinson looks to maintain his position.

"My goal is to keep it around par," Atkinson said. "I think I could go lower if I make a few more putts, but I'm not going to push it. I just want to play well this week."

Josh Bain of Abilene, Texas, Sasan Shahi of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and KeeDae Lee of Plano, Texas, finished tied for second after posting matching rounds of 1-under-par 71.

Fifth place went to five boys who shot even-par 72: Matthew Gencarelli of Leawood, Kan., Dan Swomley of Hudson, Iowa, John Sutko of Omaha, Neb., Linc Townsend of Stillwater, Okla., and Charlie Hendrickson of Galloway, Ohio. Ben Fox of Studio City, Calif., earned the final qualifying spot via a 2-hole sudden-death playoff with five other competitors.

In the Girls Division, putting was the name of the game for 13-year-old Lila Barton and 16-year-old Ellen Hoeper who tied for top honors at even-par 72.

Barton carded three birdies despite one bogey and a double, and says her game is really intact right now.

"My short game was working today-- actually, I played solid all-around," Barton said. "I sunk a lot of putts on the front and I was sticking it close to the pin all day. I'm so excited about my putting, I think that's what really made the difference today."

Coming off a second-place finish at the Nike Golf Junior All-Star Classic at Cimarron, Barton looks to capitalize on her strengths as she attacks the course throughout the week.

"I can play the course really well because it seems to fit my game." Barton said. "I think I can do well in this tournament."

Hoeper seemed unaffected by the heat and humidity as she carded four birdies and four bogeys en route to a 72 finish.

Hoeper says her straight play in the fairways and putting kept her low Sunday.

"I feel great going into the tournament," Hoeper said. "I want to keep putting well and stay consistent."

Elisa Gomez of Carrollton, Texas shot a 4-over-par 76 for second place, while the last spot went to Kelsey Kurtz of Edmond, Okla., who won a sudden-death playoff after firing an 82.

The first round of the Lockton Kansas City Junior begins Tuesday with tee times starting at 7 a.m. off the first tee.
For more information on the Lockton Kansas City Junior, please contact tournament headquarters at (913) 402-1000.