Grayhawk Golf Club, Raptor Course
Scottsdale, Arizona
May 24-27, 2002

Pressel leads Girls Division with 2-under-par 70

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Jay Choi and Casey Wittenberg scorched the Raptor Course Saturday at the third annual Thunderbird International Junior for 7-under-par 65s to tie the competitive course record. Morgan Pressel has a one-shot lead in the Girls Division after firing a 2-under-par 70.

The 54-hole event, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, is being held on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club and features 90 players representing 24 states and six foreign countries. Seventy Polo Golf Junior All-Americans, including the 2001 Polo Golf Junior Players of the Year, are competing this weekend.

Choi, of Cerritos, Calif., and Wittenberg, of Memphis, Tenn., are three strokes ahead of the field heading into the second round after tying Tom Lehman's competitive course record of 65.

After starting on No. 10, Choi carded five straight birdies on holes 3-7 for a 6-under-par 30 on the front nine. He finished with seven birdies after firing nines of 30-35.

"I could not make a putt on the back nine, but I had an awesome front nine," Choi said. "My putting struggled in the beginning, but on the sixth hole my stroke clicked and I had confidence.

An honorable mention Polo Golf Junior All-American, Choi is looking for his first AJGA victory.

"I've never won an AJGA event and I feel lucky to be here," Choi, 17, said. "I don't want to lose this chance and I hope to make the most of it."

Wittenberg, the 2001 Polo Golf Boys Junior Player of the Year, got off to a good start with birdies on his first two holes. He finished with seven birdies on the day after firing 33-32-65.

"Today everything was going well," Wittenberg said. "I hit it well and I made some good putts. I had a good day and I hope to carry this momentum into the next two rounds."

Three shots off the pace is Miami's James Vargas at 4-under-par 68, while Randy Lowry of Spring, Texas, carded a 3-under-par 69. Five are tied for fifth at 2-under-par 70: Matthew Rosenfeld of Plano, Texas; Joseph Sykora of Daphne, Ala.; Niklas Lemke of Linkoping, Sweden; Lenny Park of Rowland Heights, Calif.; and Kevin Larsen of Santa Barbara, Calif.

In the Girls Division, the 14-year-old Pressel, who became the youngest-ever qualifier for the U.S. Women's Open a year ago, carries a one-shot lead into day two after carding three birdies.

"I had a solid round," the honorable mention Polo Golf Junior All-American from Boca Raton, Fla., said. "The key to my round was my consistent wedge play. I hit my wedges to within three feet for all of my birdies. I also did not make any careless mistakes today."

On Pressel's heels at 1-under-par 71 are Nicole Hage of Coral Springs, Fla., Therese Nilsson of Vellinge, Sweden, and In-Bee Park of Eustis, Fla.



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