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Arizona National
Tucson, Arizona
July 7-10, 2003

Smith tops Girls Division

TUCSON, Ariz. - Max Schechter of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Danny Buell of San Carlos, Calif., sit atop the leaderboard of the Boys Division following first-round scores of 5-under-par 66 at the I.R.I. Golf Group Arizona National. Nicole Smith of Riverside, Calif., leads the Girls Division with a 3-under-par 68.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 54-hole event is being held at the par-71 Arizona National. The field features 84 players, ages 13-18, from seven states and Mexico, and includes 10 Tucson residents.

16-year-old Schechter carded an eagle and five birdies, compared to only two bogeys, good for a 66 in his first AJGA event.

"I played steadily on my front nine and then went birdie, eagle, birdie on my back to really get me going," commented Schechter.
"After that I realized that I might be leading an AJGA event and that was really cool, yet a little scary."

Buell, a Fresno State signee, shares the lead with Schechter following a tournament personal best 66. Buell's round included an eagle, six birdies, 30 putts and 16 greens in regulation.

"I was striking my irons really well," remarked Buell. "I felt like if I had an iron in my hand I had a chance at birdie."

In his sixth AJGA event, Buell is looking for his best finish.

"It feels good, but you can't win a tournament in one day," Buell said. "I really hope I can build on this tomorrow."

Cameron Tringale of Laguna Niguel, Calif., trails Schechter and Buell in third place after a 3-under-par 68.

Tringale is followed in fourth by eight juniors with rounds of 2-under-par. Kyle Dowden of Somis, Calif., Jonathan Taruc of Las Vegas, Daniel Lim of Gilroy, Calif., Kevin Chappell of Fresno, Calif., Heejoo Son of Carson, Calif., John Wisner of Tucson, Donnie Nielson of El Dorado Hills, Calif., and Dan Saltz of Scottsdale, Ariz., all carded 69s.

In the Girls Division, Nicole Smith tops the leaderboard with a 3-under-par 68. The 16-year-old's round included six birdies with only three bogeys.

"I just tried to stay calm all day and hit the fairways," commented Smith. "It worked well trying to play it safe today because I didn't get in much trouble in the desert."

Smith is looking to improve on a career-best fourth place finish at Morgan Run in 2002.

"I'll probably play a little more aggressive Wednesday and Thursday, but still play safely," remarked Smith. "I'm definitely looking forward to the next two rounds."

Smith is followed closely by 13-year-old Esther Choe of La Quinta, Calif. Choe carded a 2-under-par 69 with three birdies and only one bogey.

"I played consistently and hit almost all of the greens, but some of my putts just weren't falling," Choe said. "Hopefully Wednesday I will play like today; shot by shot, consistent golf."

Sommer Scholl of Riverside, Calif., and Ki-Shui Liao of Alameda, Calif. are tied in third place following matching rounds of 1-under-par 70.

Second-round action begins at 7 a.m. PDT Wednesday off Nos. 1 and 10 at Arizona National. For more information about the AJGA I.R.I Golf Group Arizona National, please call tournament headquarters at (520) 749-3636 (ext. 23).

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