PARK ACCELERATES PAST FIELD AT RANDY WISE JUNIOR OPEN
Meier capitalizes on chances, leads Girls Division at Spring Meadows Country Club
LINDEN, Mich. — On a day filled with low scores, Brandon Park went lowest of them all. The 17-year-old from Weston, Fla., followed a respectable 1-over-par 37 on the front nine with a spectacular 6-under-par 30 on the back to seize the first-round lead at the Randy Wise Junior Open. Earlier in the day, it was Christine Meier of Rochester Hills, Mich., who claimed the lead in the Girls Division after recording a 2-over-par 74. Her two early birdies and 10 pars helped propel her to the top of the leaderboard where she sits alone in first place.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Randy Wise Junior Open is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Spring Meadows Country Club. The 96-player field features players from 13 states and Poland. The Boys Division is playing from 6,918 yards, while the Girls Division is being played at 6,168 yards.
Park's steadily-improving game was on display Tuesday after carding his career-best round in an AJGA event at 5-under-par 67. Park has seen a steady rise in his consistency over the summer, in turn producing consistently lower scores. Tuesday's round certainly validated that sentiment and with a fresh mindset and growing confidence from an impressive up and down on No. 9, Park went 6-under through the first six holes on the back. That staggering number included an impressive eagle on the par-5 No. 11 where he bombed a 6-iron from 200 yards out to within 8 feet of the flagstick. He closed out his round with three pars and came out of the scoring tent in sole possession of first place.
“I really wasn't trying to do anything special today,” Park insisted. “I just wanted to get it on the green, not be too aggressive but pick my spots when to take chances, and just focus on what I could control.”
Lurking two strokes behind Park in second place is seasoned AJGA veteran Kyle Kmiecik of Avon, Ohio, champion of this summer's Midwest Junior Players Championship. Kmiecik's 3-under-par 69 included a meager 24 putts, one of the most impressive performances seen on the green this summer.
Rounding out the top five in the Boys Division are James Dewling of Brighton, Mich., Brenden Beeg of Littleton, Col., Mac McLaughlin of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Wesley Gates of Novi, Mich., all having shot a 2-under-par 70.
In the Girls Division, Meier, 16, had a promising beginning to her round, going 1-under through her first three holes. After staying at that score through her next three, the par-4 No. 7 helped give her the boost needed to maintain her solid play.
“I hit a great drive, which you really need to do on that hole if you want a chance to birdie it,” Meier said. “I used my 8-iron on my approach and stuck it to about one foot, and was able to sink the putt for birdie. That was definitely the biggest moment in my round.”
Meier used the momentum garnered from that hole to continue her play to the back nine. Having played in Rolex Tournament of Champions and the McDonald's Betsy Rawls Girls Championship, Meier is no stranger to top competition at the golf course. Her past experiences noticeably played a role in her success, as her cool and relaxed nature on the course helped her maintain composure after a bogey, such as the one recorded on the par-4 No. 16. She rebounded from that hole with a birdie on No. 17, helping to end her round with momentum heading to Wednesday's second round.
Also in the top three of the Girls Division are Elizabeth Nagel of DeWitt, Mich., and Jaclyn Shepherd of Delafield, Wis., each with 3-over-par 75s.
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 Randy Wise Junior Open will run from 7 — 11:48 a.m. off the No. 1 tee at the Spring Meadows Country Club. For more information, please contact Tournament Director Jonah Beck at (810) 735-4363 or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.