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West Lake Country Club
Augusta, Ga. • July 6 - 9

Kim leads Girls Division of Charles Howell III Junior Championship by four strokes

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Blake Soni of Bradenton, Fla., Carl Jonson of Bainbridge Island, Wash., and Zi Ting Wang of Champions Gate, Fla., all share the lead after one round of the Charles Howell III Junior Championship after each carded a 3-under-par 69. Anna Kim of Chandler, Ariz., fired a 5-under-par 68 to lead the Girls Division by four strokes.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Charles Howell III Junior Championship is a 54-hole stroke-play event being held at West Lake Country Club in Augusta, Ga. The tournament field consists of 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 18 states as well as Mexico and South Africa. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 West Lake Country Club course at 6,849 yards, and the Girls Division is playing the course at 6,149 yards, par-73.

Soni started slow but caught fire as he was closing out his front nine.

“I was kind of just playing decent for the first seven holes, and then I birdied eight and got a good break on nine when I kicked onto the green in two. I made eagle at nine to go to 2-under,” Soni said. “Then I birdied 10 and eagled 11 to go from 1-over to 5-under real quick.”

Jonson had a less dramatic round, as he notched 15 pars and three birdies. One of those pars was on the day's most difficult hole, the 470-yard, par-4 No. 15.

“I hit driver, and then I hit my 7-iron just barely over the green,” Jonson said. “Then I chipped up to about five or six feet and hit a par putt.”

Wang joined Soni in the multiple-eagle club, as he eagled Nos. 2 and 16 Tuesday. “On 16, I was at 122 yards out and I hit my pitching wedge in the hole,” Wang said. “I couldn't see anything, and the guy who was playing with me said I hit it in the hole. I didn't really know, but when I walked on the green, it wasn't on the green, it was in the hole…I've never done that before, having two eagles in one round, so that's pretty awesome.”

Tied for fourth in the Boys Division behind Jonson, Soni and Wang are Jerry Ruiz of Puebla, Mexico, and Tyler Smith of Brentwood, Tenn. Ruiz and Smith each signed for a round of 2-under-par 70.

In the Girls Division, Kim mixed six birdies and a bogey to get out to an early four-stroke lead. The 15-year-old was around the hole all day with her approach play, making for an easy day on the greens.

“My approach shots were really good, so I kept making all the putts,” Kim said. “And my putting was good, so every hole was either a birdie or par save.”

Kim ended her round with just 28 putts.

Taylor Ramsey of Augusta, Ga., is in second place after shooting a 1-under-par 72 on her home course, while Ally McDonald of Fulton, Miss., is in third with an even-par 73.

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.

Second-round tee times for the Charles Howell III Junior Championship will run from 7:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m. Wednesday at West Lake Country Club. For more information, please call Tournament Headquarters at (678) 425-4976.