Diablo Grande, Ranch Course
Patterson, California
March 1-3, 2002

Hirahatake sits one shot off the pace

PATTERSON, Calif. - Rob Grube of Hinsdale, Ill., fired a 4-under-par 68 Saturday in the first round to sit atop the leaderboard at the AJGA Preseason Junior at Diablo Grande.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, this event features 85 junior golfers from 13 states. The two-day, 36-hole tournament is being played on the par-72 Ranch Course at Diablo Grande, one of Northern California's premier golf courses.

The Preseason Junior at Diablo Grande is one of eight events in the AJGA Preseason/Postseason Series, a boys-only series, designed to provide playing opportunities to juniors who have not yet played in an AJGA tournament.

"I played solid, hit a lot of greens and did not do anything stupid today," the 16-year-old Grube said. "I made everything inside six feet and I did not have any long putts. Tomorrow I need to hit more fairways because today I hit a lot in the rough. Overall, I am very happy with my round today."

Grube jumpstarted his round by making a seven-footer for par on his first hole and had confidence for the rest of his round. With nines of 34-34, he carded five birdies and one bogey on the day.

"This course sets up well for my game," Grube continued. "It involves basically hitting greens, which is my strong point."

One shot off the pace is Christopher Hirahatake of Tustin, Calif., with a 3-under-par 69.

The 17-year-old carded a 32 on the back nine, which included two birdies and an eagle.

"My driver was not too good today, but I kept it out of trouble," Hirahatake said. "My up-and-downs were essential. I left all my putts either five feet short or five feet long. I could not judge the putts, but I made everything coming back."

Tied for third place at even-par 72 is Ryan Thornberry of Ceres, Calif., and Kevin Chappell of Fresno, Calif. Danny Buell of San Carlos, Calif., rounds out the top-five with a 73.

The top-15 finishers in the event will receive one automatic entry into an AJGA Open event, while those who finish in the top five will pick up two automatic entries. The medalist will gain three automatic entries into AJGA Open events for the 2002 season.

AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 140 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 250 Tour victories. AJGA Alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, David Duval, Justin Leonard, Kim Furyk, Kelly Robbins, Dottie Pepper, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Kelli Kuehne.

Final-round action will begin Sunday with tee times off the No. 1 and 10 tees from 9:30 - 11:36 a.m.

For more information about the AJGA Preseason Junior at Diablo Grande, or any other information about the AJGA, call tournament headquarters at (209) 892-4653.

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