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Sweetwater Country Club
Sugar Land, Texas • August 9 - 12

Benitez Continues to Shine at AJGA Houston Junior
Wu shakes off rocky start to maintain lead on Sweetwater Country Club's Pecan Course

SUGAR LAND, Texas — While temperatures soared to the 100's for the second straight day, Juan Benitez of Puebla, Mexico, kept his cool, shooting an even-par 72, bringing his tournament total to 4-under-par 140. After sharing the leaderboard after round one, Bethany Wu of Diamond Bar, Calif., stands alone atop the Girls Division after shooting 1-over-par 73 to bring her tournament total to 3-over-par 147.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Houston Junior is a 54-hole stroke play event, held at Sweetwater Country Club's Pecan Course in Sugar Land, Texas. The 98-player field features 75 boys and 23 girls from 11 states, as well as Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Guatemala, Colombia, China and Australia. The boys are playing the course at 7,052 yards, and the girls are playing the course at 6,233 yards.

After shooting 4-under in the first round, Benitez followed up with extremely consistent play, shooting even par on the day to lead the Boys Division for the second round in a row.

“I only made one birdie today and yesterday I had seven,” Benitez said. “My putter just wasn't working like it was yesterday. I played a good, solid round today, though. Besides my one bogey I had par or better on every hole.”

Headed into the final round, Benitez is hoping to maintain his high level of play without taking too many unnecessary risks.

“I don't want to play really aggressive tomorrow,” Benitez said. “I just want to hit all the greens and hopefully shoot one or two under tomorrow. If I can do that I should be in good shape.”

Sitting one shot behind Benitez tied in second place are Jeffrey Merrell of Aledo, Texas, and Andrew Rostek of Sugar Land, Texas, with 3-under-par 141 tournament totals. In third place with a 2-under-par 142 is Matthew Rushton of Cape Town, South Africa. Rounding out the Boys Division leaderboard with a 1-under-par 143 is Roman Robledo of Harlingen, Texas.

Wu's second round started off shaky as she bogeyed her first hole. Wu would go on to bogey Nos. 17 and 18, but raised her level of play once she made the turn, carding birdies on Nos. 1 and 8.

“No. 1 really raised my confidence,” Wu said. “I had a 20 foot birdie putt that I thought was going to miss, but it just sneaked in.”

Headed into the final round, Wu admitted that she is feeling some pressure to perform well after leading through the first two rounds.

“There is always a little pressure,” Wu said. “I admit I was thinking about my scores and what Courtney [Ferguson] shot too much those last few holes. If I don't think about it and just focus on my game, especially my putting, I think I can hold strong tomorrow.”

After sharing the leaderboard with Wu through the first round, Courtney Ferguson of Houston dropped to second place with a tournament total 5-over-par 149. Tied for third place are Samantha Marks of Maitland, Fla., and Tezira Abe of Angleton, Texas, with 7-over-par 151 tournament totals.

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 provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.

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. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.

Final round tee times for the AJGA Houston Junior will run from 7:20 - 9:20 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at the Sweetwater Country Club's Pecan Course. For more information about the AJGA Houston Junior, please contact Tournament Director Jeremy Freyman at (678) 617-9917.