BIDDLE LEADS JUNIOR ALL-STAR CHAMPIONSHIP AT 3-UNDER-PAR
Fontaine cards only round under par to take Girls Division lead
PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Wanting to validate an opening-round 69, Blake Biddle of St. Charles, Ill., carded a 1-under-par 70 and took a two-shot lead at the Junior All-Star Championship after Sunday's second round. Valentina Fontaine of Hilton Head Island, S.C., stormed to the top of the Girls Division leaderboard and owns a one-shot lead at 78-70 — 148 after 36 holes.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Junior All-Star Championship is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at the Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club's Copperhead Course. The 71-player field features players from 25 states, China and Mexico. The par-71 course is being played at 7,018 yards for the Boys Division, and 6,045 yards for the Girls Division.
Coming into the week, Biddle knew Innisbrook's five par 3s would pose a challenge and be a key to the tournament. He has responded with good iron play and is 3-under-par on the par 3s this week, including three birdies on the par 3s in today's round of 70.
“I knew I'd play well because distance control is important, and I felt like I was in control,” said Biddle, who has three top-10 finishes in this year's Junior All-Star series. “I've played well in my high school matches this year and I've learned how to score, and I've brought that into this week.”
First-round leader Nicholas Austin of Midlothian, Va., is the only other player under par and sits in second place at 67-74 — 141. Jordan Spieth of Dallas is in third at 73-72 — 145, while Blake Olson of Pensacola, Fla., is in fourth at 69-77 — 146. Larry Han of Raleigh, N.C., Payne Denman of Riverwatch, Tenn., and Kramer Hickok of Plano, Texas are tied for fifth with two-round totals of 147.
In the Girls Division, Fontaine carded the only round under par behind the strength of her putter. She admits that she's not the longest player in the field, but she's confident that her short game is more than enough to win her first AJGA tournament.
“I'm not as experienced as some of the other players, but now I'm happy with my game and I'm confident,” Fontaine said. “Although this is a long course, I now know that I can shoot under par. If I feel good and I'm confident, I can do it.”
Tied for second place in the Girls Division are Grace Na of Oakland, Calif., and first-round leader Hannah Collier of Birmingham, Ala., at 7-over-par 149.
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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
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 Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
Final-round tee times will run from 7:30 — 9:12 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at the Innisbrook Resort & Golf Club's Copperhead Course. For more information about the Junior All-Star Championship, please contact tournament headquarters at (727) 942-2000.