Cimarron Golf Resort
Cathedral City, California
July 14-17, 2003

Mabanta leads the Girls Division

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Jason Kang, 15, of Torrance, Calif., Tim McKenney, 15, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Brian Kim, 15, of Cerritos, Calif., share the lead in the Boys Division of the Nike Golf Junior All-Star Classic at Cimarron after firing 3-under-par 68s Tuesday. In the Girls Division, Melissa Mabanta, 14, of Phoenix, carded an even-par 71 and sits in first.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 54-hole event is being held at the par-71 Cimarron Golf Resort. The field features 74 players, ages 13-15, from 12 states, including 44 California residents, and Canada.

The Junior All-Star Series was started by the AJGA in 1998 with Ty Tryon winning the inaugural event in Kissimmee, Fla. The series has since grown annually and continues to feature top juniors from around the country, ages 13-15.

Kim carded six birdies en route to his first round of 3-under-par.

"Everything went smoothly today," remarked Kim. "I made a couple of mistakes by missing two birdie putts, but I did hit 11 greens in regulation and finished well."

Kim wants to continue playing well the final two rounds with hopes of victory.

"I want to lead all three days," Kim said.

McKenney got off to a shaky start Tuesday as he was 2-over-par through six holes, however bounced back with an eagle on hole 6 where he holed-out from 250 yards away.

"The eagle really bolted me to greatness," McKenney commented. "I stayed in the fairways all day. Hopefully this continues tomorrow because there is still a long way to go."

Kang's round was also highlighted by an eagle on the par-5, 500-yard sixth hole.

"I drove into the fairway and then hit my 5-wood 30 feet from the cup," Kang said. "It felt great."

Kang went on to drain the 30-foot putt for eagle and also converted three birdie attempts in the round.

"My putting was on today," commented Kang. "Hopefully I continue to putt well and keep hitting the ball well because I want to go lower. I've been in this position before; this time I want to stay here."

Daniel Miller of Santa Maria, Calif., Roberto Galletti Jr. of Vallejo, Calif., Acer Chen of Walnut, Calif., and Brad Nicholson of Chandler, Ariz., are all tied for fourth place after carding 2-under-par 69s.

In the Girls Division, Mabanta carded three birdies and three bogeys to finish even-par for the day.

"I hit most of the fairways and only missed two greens," Mabanta said. "If I would've putted better I think that I would have gone really low."

Mabanta looks to continue her strong play and improve on her best AJGA finish, eighth place at the 2003 Nike Junior All-Star at Ames.

"I plan on keeping calm and cool and continuing to play well", Mabanta remarked.

Mabanta is followed in second by Lila Barton of Dallas, and Kimberly Punyasavatsut of Anaheim, who carded matching rounds of 74.

Second-round action begins at 6:30 a.m. PDT Wednesday off Nos. 1 and 10 at Cimarron Golf Resort. For more information about the AJGA Nike Golf Junior All-Star Classic at Cimarron, please call tournament headquarters at (760) 770-6060.

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