BECK BOASTS EARLY LEAD WITH 4-UNDER-PAR 68 AT ANNIKA INVITATIONAL
Chen trails by one shot at Reunion Resort's Independence Course
REUNION, Fla. — Laetitia Beck of Caesarea, Israel, fired a 4-under-par 68 in windy conditions to hold the top spot on the leaderboard after the first round of the second-annual ANNIKA Invitational. Doris Chen of Bradenton, Fla., sits one shot back after recording a 3-under-par 69 on the Independence (Watson) Course at Reunion Resort.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the ANNIKA Invitational is a 54-hole stroke play event being played at Reunion Resort, home of the ANNIKA Academy. The girls-only field is playing the par-72 Independence (Watson) Course at 6,420 yards. The 72-player field features 21 Rolex Junior All-Americans and players from 14 states and eight foreign countries.
Beck posted five birdies on her way to matching 2-under-par 34s on the front and back nine. Successfully draining her first putt on nine holes, the second-team Rolex Junior All-American credited the day's success to her putting. Ranked No. 15 in the Polo Golf Rankings, Beck finished fourth in last year's event but didn't return to the tournament with any expectations.
“Every tournament is special,” Beck said. “I'm trying to win every single time I'm there. I don't try to put pressure on myself, I know it's a big event, there are a lot of girls and Annika, but I'm just trying to play my game and trying to win.”
No. 10 in the Polo Golf Rankings, Chen had strong iron play during the round and said focusing on course management helped her score low despite the cold weather. Chen's plan is to play consistent in the second round to remain near the top of an event she's excited about.
“This tournament is very special to me,” Chen said. “I really like Annika, she's my favorite player.”
Shannon Aubert of Orlando, Fla., holds the third spot at 1-under-par 71. Suzie Lee of East Northport, N.Y., Tiffany Lim of San Jose, Calif., and Victoria Tanco of Bradenton, Fla., each posted a 1-over-par 73 to sit tied for fourth.
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 ANNIKA Foundation teaches children the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle through fitness and nutrition, and offers aspiring junior golfers opportunities to pursue their dreams. A primary focus for the ANNIKA Foundation is to identify the greatest needs and opportunities to make an impact by developing sports and physical fitness programs for kids. A key focus is to provide resources that increase participation and access where it is not currently available or affordable, and promote awareness for the importance of leading a healthy, active lifestyle.
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 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 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 will run from 8-9:39 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees Sunday, February 14, at Reunion Resort's Independence (Watson) Course. For more information about the ANNIKA Invitational, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (586) 295-4470.