CLEMENS, TUJAGUE CLAIM LEAD AT PING PHOENIX JUNIOR
Okada leads Girls Division at Moon Valley Country Club
PHOENIX - On a day where the temperature was high, scores were low Tuesday at the first round of the PING Phoenix Junior. Mario Clemens of Beverly Hills, Calif., and Landon Tujague of Dallas, each fired 5-under-par 67 to claim an early lead in the Boys Division while Elyse Okada shot a 2-under-par 70 to take the lead in the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the PING Phoenix Junior is a 54-hole stroke play event held at Moon Valley Country Club. The tournament field features 51 boys and 27 girls, ages 12-18, from 11 states, Mexico, and Taiwan. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 7,163 yards, while the Girls Division is playing the course at 6,417 yards.
Clemens, a 17-year-old rising senior, shot an even-par 36 on the front nine, trading bogey for birdie twice. It was on the back nine that Clemens came alive, beginning with an eagle on the par-5 No. 10. Three more birdies came consecutively for Clemens on Nos. 12 through 14 to give him a 5-uner-par 31 on the back nine. The constant reminders he gave himself throughout the day helped him stay calm and collected.
“I kept telling myself to play one shot at a time,” Clemens said. “I think I told myself that 200 times over the day while I was walking down the fairway and standing over a putt.”
Also with a 5-under-par 67 is Tujague, who recorded eight birdies to three bogeys on the day. The highlight of his day was four consecutive birdies over Nos. 17 through 2, after beginning the day on No. 10. Tujague credits his superb round to his short game, only counting 26 putts on the day.
“Tomorrow, I just want to stay positive and hit one shot at a time,” Tujague said. “I just tried to not get ahead of myself and now I need to do the same thing tomorrow.”
In third, one shot behind the leaders with a 4-under-par 68 is Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos, Calif. Tied for fourth are Juan Pablo Hernandez of Mexico City, John Catlin of Carmichael, Calif., and Ryan Kelley of The Woodlands, Texas, each recording 3-under-par 69s.
In the Girls Division, Okada holds a one-stroke lead after the first round of play. The PING Phoenix Junior will be the recent graduate's final AJGA event before moving on to collegiate play. She began the day with an inauspicious bogey on the par-4 No.1, but quickly bounced back, carding birdies on four holes throughout the day.
“That first birdie putt really got me excited,” the Oregon State commit said. “It really helped me build my confidence to know that I can play really well after starting with a bogey.”
Tied for second, one stroke behind Okada are Kyung Kim of Chandler, Ariz., and Danielle Kang of Oak Park, Calif., each having carded a 1-under-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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 foreign countries.
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.
The second round of the PING Phoenix Junior will be Wednesday, August 13 with tee times running of the Nos. 1 and 10 tees from 6:30 — 8:18 a.m. For more information about the PING Phoenix Junior, please contact Tournament Director Preston Etheridge at (602) 942-0000 ext. 4422.