STRAKA MAINTAINS LEAD ADMIST WINDSTONE GOLF CLUB'S FAST GREENS
Lendl joins Stackhouse in leading Girls Division
RINGGOLD, Ga. — Sam Straka, 16, of Valdosta, Ga., is less than thrilled with his underwhelming scorecard from the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic second round, however, he still leads the pack in the Boys Division through two days at 5-under-par 135. Isabelle Lendl, 17, of Bradenton, Fla., is now tied atop the Girls Division with Mariah Stackhouse, 15, of Riverdale, Ga., at 1-over-par 141 after their rounds of even-par 70 and 3-over-par 73, respectively.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic is a 54-hole stroke play event held at WindStone Golf Club in Ringgold, Ga. The tournament field consists of 75 boys and 23 girls from 15 states and Venezuela, ages 12-18. The Boys Division is playing the par-70 WindStone Golf Club at 6,469 yards, while the Girls Division is playing at 5,797 yards.
Opposed to day one, the greens at WindStone Golf Club were firm Wednesday, providing a slick, fast surface for the players to putt on. This presented problems for Straka, especially on Nos. 17 and 18, where he found himself doing the three-step on each dance floor.
“I had a downhill flop shot coming back (on No. 18) and these greens are like glass, it's hard to stop it,” Straka winced while recalling the strokes. “Then I just killed my return putt coming back, and then missed another putt. From there I luckily made my putt for double bogey.”
Still, behind the frustration lies confidence and composure because Straka believes this is his tournament to lose, as he continues to wear down his opponents.
“I'm still in the lead, they're still chasing me,” Straka said. “I'm just playing good right now; I'm not making many mistakes.”
Closely following in second place at 3-under-par is James Monnerville of Vero Beach, Fla., while Kelby Burton of Evans, Ga., Zach Estep of Lawrenceville, Ga., and Jordan Jennings of Jefferson City, Tenn., are all tied at 2-under-par 138 and sit in third.
It will be experience versus youth in the Girls Division on the final day after Lendl rode the momentum of her steady round to spring a deadlock with Stackhouse.
Already the owner of two AJGA tournament crowns, it's hard for Lendl to hide her glowing confidence.
“There's always pressure playing with the leaders but it's self-imposed,” Lendl said. “This is what you practice for, to be in the final group. You don't practice to be three groups back from the leaders. I've put myself in a good position for tomorrow.”
On the other side, Stackhouse watched as her three-stroke lead evaporated at the hands of her struggling putter, causing her scorecard to increase by five strokes, as she carded a 3-over-par 73. Oddly enough, Stackhouse opened the day with a chip-in birdie.
“Pretty much the same story all day, I got my birdie putts close but couldn't drop them,” Stackhouse said.
That includes a nine-footer on No. 18 that lipped out.
While less experienced than Lendl, Stackhouse has been in this position before. Last year at the AJGA Cliffs Championship in Keowee Falls, S.C., she led after round one, only to fall in the final round by 2-strokes. She'll look to reverse that trend tomorrow.
Chasing the leaders in third place are Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J., and Shannon Aubert of Orlando, Fla., who finished the second round with a two-day total of 2-over-par 142.
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 50 states and more than 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 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA tours and have compiled more than 350 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 final-round of the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic will be an 8:30 a.m. shotgun at WindStone Golf Club. For more information, please call Tournament Headquarters at (706) 965-2541, or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.