TRACY, HALEY, JR., TIED FOR LEAD AT SAP JUNIOR OPEN
Lavin only girl to break par at Red Tail Golf Club
AVON, Ohio — Ethan Tracy and David Haley, Jr., both of Hilliard, Ohio, fired opening-round 3-under-par 69s to take a share of the lead in the SAP Junior Open Tuesday. In the Girls Division, Jamie Lavin of Deerfield, Ill., took the golf course by storm, draining an uncanny six birdies on her way to a first-round score of 1-under-par 71.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the SAP Junior Open is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Red Tail Golf Club. The 120-player field features players ages 12-18 from 16 states and Canada. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 6,918 yards while the Girls Division is playing at 6,106 yards.
Haley, Jr., 18, and Tracy, 18, high-school teammates at nearby Hilliard Darby High School, took different paths to get to their final scores. Haley, who will be playing golf for the University of Minnesota in the fall, played under par from the second hole onwards with birdies on Nos. 2, 3 and 4 setting the tone for his day. He meticulously managed the greens all morning and a birdie on No. 18, where he sank a difficult putt, cemented his place among the leaders for the day.
“The conditions were absolutely perfect today,” Haley said. “The greens were rolling really fast, and that helped me play as well as I did.”
For Tracy, who will be an Arkansas Razorback come September, it took a spectacular eagle on the par-5 No. 13 to vault him to the top of the leader board.
“I hit a 3-wood off the tee, and then a 5-iron from 200 yards out,” Tracy said. “I put it within 5 feet and made the putt. It really set the tone for the rest of my round.”
Trailing the two leaders in the Boys Division in third place is Chad Merzbacher of Dublin, Ohio, who shot an opening-round 1-under-par 71. Richard Lamb of South Bend, Ind., Sean Lombardo of Dublin, Ohio, and Aaron Pontsler of Monclova, Ohio, are in fourth place after firing even-par 72s.
Sitting atop the leader board in the Girls Division is Lavin, 17, who has one top-five finish in her AJGA career. Being familiar with this course has seemingly had a big impact on the scores thus far, as Lavin can attest to. Having won the Qualifier for the SAP Junior Open in 2007, Lavin was well aware of the multiple hazards and bevy of bunkers awaiting the competitors. If she goes on to win the tournament, Lavin's front nine will be remembered as the one that helped give her the momentum to do so. Her five birdies led to a 2-under-par 34, a fantastic score given the difficulty of the course.
“I have never had a start like that in my life,” Lavin said. “I was dialing into the distances really well, and my alignment is what helped me score so well.
Also in the top three in the Girls Division are Kristina Wong of Bradenton, Fla., who shot an even-par 72, and Nikki Koller of Lewisburg, Ky., and Alexis Holmes of West Chester, Pa., both of whom carded 1-over-par 73s.
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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 AJGA, the largest Association of its kind, has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 25 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.
Second-round tee times for the SAP Junior Open will run from 7 a.m. — 12:51 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Red Tail Golf Club Wednesday. For more information, please contact Tournament Director Jeremy Freyman at (678) 617-9917.