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Arizona National
Tucson, Arizona
July 7-10, 2003

Choe tops Girls Division

TUCSON, Ariz. - Kyle Dowden of Somis, Calif., carded a 65 Wednesday and leads the Boys Division of the I.R.I. Golf Group Arizona National with an 8-under-par 134 following the second-round. Esther Choe of La Quinta, Calif., took a commanding lead the Girls Division at 3-under-par 139.

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.

Wednesday's round of 65 marks Dowden's personal best competitive round.

"My goal was to have no bogeys today, and I did that," Dowden said. "I felt great out there today; everything was working."

Leading the field by one-stroke, Dowden looks to capitalize on his strong play in the final round.

"A score like today's gives me a lot of confidence," Dowden said. "Tomorrow I have to take it one stroke at a time, like I did today. I just want to play well and try not to get too caught up in my score."

Max Schechter of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., carded four birdies compared to only two bogeys en route to a 2-under-par 69. Schechter now stands in second place with a two-round total of 135. Schechter says he is pleasantly surprised with his position going into the final round of his first AJGA event.

"I am very happy with my play," remarked Schechter, who on Tuesday shot a 5-under-par 66 and shared the lead after the first-round. "I am looking at tomorrow as a whole new round, rather than the last of three. I'll try not to think about the last two days during the final round, I just want to relax and play good golf."

Fresno State signee, Danny Buell of San Carlos, Calif., and Indiana University bound Andrew Temple of Berkley, Calif., are currently tied for third. Buell shot 1-under-par 70 while Temple shot a personal best 6-under-par 65, bringing their two-round totals to 136. Cameron Tringale of Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Daniel Lim of Gilroy, Calif., carded a 69 and 68, respectively, totaling 140 for the tournament and now stand tied for fifth place.

Esther Choe shot a 1-under-par 70 and currently holds an 8-stroke lead in the Girls Division. The highlight of Choe's day came with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 6 and 7, after carding her only bogey on No. 3. Choe played consistently Tuesday, finishing the round with a flawless back nine at even-par.

"I'm hitting fairways and greens, but I didn't make as many putts as I wanted today," remarked 13-year-old Choe. "If I keep hitting the ball like today and yesterday, it will be good. I just want my putts to fall."

Choe looks to finish strong tomorrow and take home her first AJGA victory.

"I've been in the final group twice before, but I wasn't ready to win then," Choe said. "I think I'm ready now."

Riverside, Calif., natives Nicole Smith and Sommer Scholl are currently tied for second place with a two-round total of 147.

The final round of the I.R.I Golf Group Arizona National begins Thursday with tee times starting at 7 a.m. off the first and 10th tees.

For more information about the AJGA I.R.I Golf Group Arizona National, please call tournament headquarters at (520) 749-3636 (ext. 23).