MCINERNEY HOLDS ON TO LEAD GOING INTO FINAL ROUND AT THE REFUGE GOLF CLUB
Kim, Bartell tied for lead in Girls Division at Junior All-Star at Lake Havasu.
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Defending champion AJ McInerney of Henderson, Nev., carded a two-round total of 9-under-par 135 to stay atop the Boys Division leaderboard going into Thursday's final round at the Junior All-Star at Lake Havasu. In the Girls Division, Lauren Kim of Los Altos, Calif., and Lily Bartell of Cave Creek, Ariz., are tied with a five-stroke lead with two day totals of 2-over-par 146.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Junior All-Star at Lake Havasu features 52 boys and 14 girls — ages 12-15 — from 15 states and Canada. The Boys Division is playing the course at 6,801 yards, while the girls are playing the course at 5,935 yards.
McInerney tallied five birdies on the day for a 3-under-par 69 Wednesday, keeping him in a comfortable position going into the final round. Despite posting a solid score and sinking a 15-foot putt on No. 18, McInerney made it clear that there was room for improvement.
“I didn't hit my driver as well as yesterday,” said McInerney. “I'm just trying to go as low as I can Thursday and not drop too far back in the field.”
With the talk of a possible repeat amidst the clubhouse, McInerney is trying to focus on each individual hole but admits that a win would be exciting. He is even looking ahead to 2009.
“I'd like to do it all three years that I'm in the Junior All-Star Series,” said McInerney. “It would be a lot of fun.”
Sitting two strokes behind McInerney is Jordan Gilmore of Sparks, Nev., who has a two-day total of 7-under-par 137. Michael Decker of Dallas, is in third with a 4-under-par 140. Alberto Sanchez of Nogales, Ariz., sits at 3-under-par 141 in fourth, and Sean Kelly of Bradenton, Fla., rounded out the top five with a 2-under-par 142.
Despite struggles with windy conditions and putting, Kim and Bartell are tied for first in the Girls Divison, five strokes ahead of the competition. Kim went into the second round with a one-stroke lead over Bartell and admits that her iron-play was better in the first round.
“Being from the Bay Area, I'm used to the wind, but it really impacted me on No. 18,” said Kim. “I just need to come out tomorrow focused on trying to hit straight shots and stay mentally ahead like I did today.”
“My putts were a lot worse today,” said Bartell. “I'm going back to the hotel to work on them tonight.”
Both girls played the first two rounds in the same pairing, and even though they went back and forth with scores, the two felt no pressure playing together.
“We like each other,” both girls said. “We've become good friends since we played together in the practice round.”
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.
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 for the Junior All-Star at Lake Havasu will run from 6:30 to 8 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at The Refuge Golf Club. For more information on the Junior All-Star at Lake Havasu, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (928) 764-4653.