Wu, Walker Share Lead in Boys Division at Junior All-Star at Eagle Ridge
LaBarbera holds one-stroke lead at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa - South Course
GALENA, Ill. — A pair of AJGA first-timers find themselves tied for the lead at the Junior All-Star at Eagle Ridge as Brandon Wu of Livermore, Calif., and Matthew Walker of Ottumwa, Iowa, each carded an opening round 1-over-par 73. In the Girls Division, Jordan LaBarbera of Allen, Texas, leads the pack after posting a 5-over-par 77.
The Junior All-Star at Eagle Ridge is one of 10 events in the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series. Specifically designed for boys and girls ages 12-15, the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series presents opportunities for younger players to develop their skills and earn entry into AJGA Open tournaments. The Series concludes with the Montverde Academy Junior All-Star Invitational over Columbus Day weekend for winners and top finishers in Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy All-Star Series events. The tournament field includes 74 boys and 25 girls, ages 12-15 from 26 states, Thailand, China, Ecuador and Mexico. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 6,578 yards and the Girls Division is playing at 5,855 yards.
Wu carded back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12, which got him back on track and gave him confidence heading to the back nine.
“I wasn't doing very well on the front nine,” Wu said. “However, being able to birdie Nos. 11 and 12 gave me some momentum as I felt myself begin to play better and push forward a little bit.”
Walker highlighted his first round on No. 6 as he recorded an eagle on the 505-yard, par-5. The 14-year-old reached the green in two shots before sinking a 15-foot putt drawing him back to even-par.
“It feels good to hold a share of the lead after the first round,” Walker said. “I have been playing pretty good lately but I wasn't sure how I would do in my first AJGA event. It's definitely a good feeling to be in this position.”
Currently tied for third place after carding a 2-over-par 74 are Jeremy Ball of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Shintaro Ban of San Jose, Calif. Tied for fifth place with a score of 3-over-par 75 were Zachary Hoskins of Orlando, Fla., Matthew Weber of Saint Charles, Ill., Payton Taylor of Vero Beach, Fla., Hudson Luthringshausen of Kildeer, Ill., and Tripp French of Dayton, Ohio.
LaBarbera, who is playing in her first ever AJGA event, leads the Girls Division by a single stroke after posting a 5-over-par 77. LaBarbera didn't get out to the start she imagined, but recovered nicely on Nos. 4 — 6 as she recorded three consecutive birdies.
“Scoring three straight birdies really helped build my confidence,” LaBarbera said. “I'm very excited to get back out and play tomorrow and I hope that I can carry over that kind of play into the second round.”
Trailing by one-stroke heading into Wednesday's second round are Abbey Carlson of Lake Mary, Fla., Bing Singhsumalee of Naperville, Ill., and Joo Youn Seo of Laguna Niguel, Calif., who all posted a 6-over-par 78.
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 more than 40 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, 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 500 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel.
Second-round tee times for the Junior All-Star at Eagle Ridge will run from 7 a.m. — 12:30 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa — South Course. For more information about the Junior All-Star at Eagle Ridge contact Tournament Director A.J. Donaldson at (678) 386-1487.