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Château Élan Golf Club
Braselton, Ga. • April 5 - 8

Four players tied atop Boys Division after windy opening day

BRASELTON, Ga. — Courtney Ellenbogen of Blacksburg, Va., fired an opening-round 69 under windy conditions Friday to take a one-shot lead in the Girls Division at the Mizuno Junior at Chateau Elan. In the Boys Division, four players share the lead at 1-under-par after first-round 70s, while four more players are tied for fifth at even-par 71.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Mizuno Junior at Chateau Elan features 87 boys and 45 girls — ages 12-18 — from 24 states and six foreign countries. The par-71 course is set up at 7,050 yards for the Boys Division and 6,080 yards for the Girls Division.

Despite unseasonably cool and windy conditions, Ellenbogen got off to a steady start and recorded pars on her first nine holes. On the day, Ellenbogen carded three birdies, all on her back nine, and tallied just one bogey.

“The wind wasn't blowing that hard on my first nine, so I was able to get in a good rhythm,” Ellenbogen said. “I was playing well, and I was able to continue to play well on the back nine.”

Sally Watson of South Queensferry, Scotland, was the only other girl to card a sub-par round, shooting a 1-under-par 70. Evan Jensen of Belleair, Fla., recorded a 73, placing her in third place entering Saturday's second round.

The Boys Division leaderboard is crowded at the top, as eight players notched first-round scores of par or better. The four leaders at 1-under-par are Brinson Paolini of Virginia Beach, Va., Wesley Graham of Port Orange, Fla., Drew Ernst of Seneca, S.C., and Hojin Kang of Longwood, Fla.

For Ernst, he started the round with a pair of birdies on his front nine before recording three bogeys midway through his round. However, Ernst closed with birdies on his final two holes and said he'll be able to feed off that in the second round.

“I was able to set a good pace for the rest of the tournament,” Ernst said. “I made a couple of key putts early — some 10-footers for par and some four-footers. There's still plenty of golf left, so I just have to keep going after it.”

Paolini posted a third-place finish at last year's Mizuno Junior at Chateau Elan and carded five birdies en route to his first-round 70. Kang used three birdies on the front nine to propel him to his 70, while Graham is ranked 15th in the Polo Golf Rankings and is the highest-ranked player in the field.

Seth Reeves of Duluth, Ga., Jake An of Centreville, Va., John Popeck of Washington, Pa., and Brewer Bradshaw of Columbia, S.C., enter the second round tied for fifth at even-par 71.

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 largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 foreign countries.

Mizuno Corporation is one of the world's largest specialty sporting goods manufacturers. Mizuno manufactures and distributes golf, baseball, softball, running, track & field, and volleyball equipment, apparel and footwear for international markets. Mizuno USA is based in Norcross, Ga.

AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Brittany Lincicome, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.

Due to an expected morning freeze, second-round tee times will be delayed until 11 a.m. The second round will be shortened to nine holes. For more information on the Mizuno Junior at Chateau Elan, please call tournament headquarters at (678) 425-1704.