ANTLE SHOOTS 68 TO LEAD IN THE FIRST ROUND
Lopez and Grice both shoot even on the front and back for the lead
ABILENE, Texas — John Antle of Graham, Texas shot 4-under-par 68 to lead after the first round of the Bob Estes Abilene Junior. Casey Grice of College Station, Texas and Gabriela Lopez of Mexico City shot even-par 72s to share the lead in the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Bob Estes Abilene Junior is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Abilene Country Club — Fairway Course. The tournament field consists of 101 boys and 39 girls, ages 13 to 18, from 14 states, Mexico, Thailand and New Zealand. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 7,076 yards, while the Girls Division is playing the course at 6,147 yards.
Antle hit his tee shot into the hazard on No. 5, but rebounded, using a 54-degree sand wedge to get out of the hazard and into a birdie opportunity. Carding five birdies total, Antle continued to play well with 2-under-par 34s on the front and back nines. Returning from a white water rafting trip recently, Antle believes that his week of relaxation and the break from competitive golf prepared him for this tournament.
“I was really relaxed today,” Antle said. “It was a decent putting day, but I hit almost every fairway.”
Rounding out the top five in the Boy Division in second place is Taylor Moore of Edmond, Okla., Tied for third with 1-under-par 71s are Ben Bankhead of McKinney, Texas, Michael Schoolcraft of Englewood, Colo., Lane Hulse, Fordyce, Ark., Connor Black of Katy, Texas, Brian Smith of Corpus Christi, Texas, Scott McAlpine of Auckland, New Zealand, and Tyson Turnbow of Muleshoe, Texas.
Grice played a consistent round, trading all her bogeys for birdies to walk out of the scoring tent with an even-par 72. The countless hours she has put into her short game this season seemed worth the effort when she sank a 12-foot putt for birdie on No. 15 to card five birdies on the day. Grice felt confident going into the back nine, with the mindset that she controlled her game.
“I was hitting driver well and my short game was really on,” Grice said. “I was confident that if I were to get into trouble, I could get myself out of it.”
Trouble never came for Grice as she finished the back nine with one less bogey than on the front.
Lopez, who changed her putter yesterday, believes that the change is the reason for her single-bogey round. Lopez only needed 29 putts on the day and did not have a single three putt. Lopez made the turn looking forward to the back nine where she likes the straight fairways and had the confidence from shooting even-par on the front.
“I was thinking fairway, green, two-putt, fairway, green, two-putt,” Lopez said. “I was really happy with my new putter.”
Rounding out the top three in the Girls Division and tied for third with 1-over-par 73s are Emily Collins of Colleyville, Texas and Grace Choi of Dallas.
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 Bob Estes Abilene Junior 7:00 a.m.- 8:39 a.m. and noon-1:39 p.m. For more information about the Bob Estes Abilene Junior, please contact Tournament Director AJ Donaldson at (678) 386-1487.