HP BOYS JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge
July 26-30, 2004
Woltman and Leong tied for second at even-par 216
ORLANDO, Fla. – Samuel Saunders of Windermere, Fla., battled bogeys throughout Thursday’s third round, but still managed to increase his lead by one stroke to take a two-shot advantage going into the final round of the HP Boy Junior Championship. Daniel Woltman of Beaver Dam, Wis., and Ben Leong of Orlando, Fla., are currently tied for second and trail Saunders by two strokes.
The HP Boys Junior Championship, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, features 82 boys, ages 12-18, from 24 states, Chile, China and Japan. The 72-hole stroke play event is being held at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, site of the PGA TOUR’s annual Bay Hill Invitational. Past champions of the HP Boys Junior Championship include Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and David Duval. Highlighting the 2004 field are 14 Rolex Junior All-Americans and 13 2004 AJGA tournament champions. The tournament field was cut to the top 50 players including ties following the second round.
Saunders, the grandson of golf legend and Bay Hill President Arnold Palmer, will enter Friday’s final round with a two-stroke lead following an even-par 72 that brought his three round total to 2-under-par 214. Saunders walked on to No. 18 at 4-under par with a four-stroke lead. However, a drive that landed out of bounds led to a double bogey for Saunders.
“I was happy with my round today,” Saunders said. “I’m just not very pleased that it ended on such a sour note. I’m still happy with a two-stroke lead though.”
Saunders, playing at his home course, said he believes that the tournament isn’t over yet.
“All these guys that play out here are very good,” Saunders said. “The conditions here are great and with calm winds, anyone can go low.”
Saunders will be looking to combine his 17th birthday with his first AJGA title on Friday.
“I think that someone is gong to have to shoot under par tomorrow,” Saunders commented. “I hope that I can win. This would be the most important tournament that I have ever won. It’d be even more special because it’s on my home course, in front of my family and on my birthday.”
Woltman, whose best AJGA finish came at this year’s Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior and at the 2003 AJGA Chicago Junior at Bolingbrook, placing fifth both times, entered Thursday one stroke back of the leader, Saunders. His round of 1-over-par 73 included three bogeys and two birdies and pushed his tournament total to 216. Like Saunders, Woltman’s round also ended on a sour note with missed chances for birdie on Nos. 17 and 18.
“It was a disappointing finish for me today,” the seventeen-year-old Woltman commented. “I know that I can strike back with a good round Friday. My goal was to shoot 68 everyday. I think that’s what I’ll need to contend for the championship tomorrow.”
Unlike his counterparts Saunders and Woltman, Leong carded a birdie on No. 18 to bounce back from a bogey on No. 17.
“Making birdie on No. 18 will give me a huge boost and a lot of confidence tomorrow,” the 18-year-old said.
Leong, a University of Central Florida signee, carded an even-par round 72 that brought his three-day total to 216.
“It feels great to be towards the top of the leaderboard,” Leong said. “I can’t wait for tomorrow. Everyone stands a chance. Whoever reads the greens and putts well will win tomorrow.”
Rory Hie of Lakewood, Calif., and Robert Gates, Jr. of Gainesville, Fla., carded matching rounds of 2-over-par 74 to bring their tournament totals to 217, which puts them in a tie for fourth place entering final-round action.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA has a membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA’s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association’s success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
Final-round tee times at Bay Hill will begin Friday at 7 a.m. and conclude at 8:48 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information about the HP Boys Junior Championship, please contact tournament headquarters at (407) 876-8095.