Kelly Chinn of Great Falls, Virginia, fired an opening round 7-under-par 65 on the PGA National Resort & Spa - Fazio Course to take a one-stroke lead over the Boys Division at the Rolex Tournament of Champions. In the Girls Division, Charlotte Hillary of Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, Rose Zhang of Irvine, California, and Brooke Rivers of (Canada) Brampton, Ontario are tied for first at 1-under-par 71.
The 42nd edition of the Rolex Tournament of Champions features 144 of the best junior golfers in the world from 27 states and 18 countries. The tournament assembles the Rolex Junior All-Americans with the past year’s champions to create The Greatest Week in Junior Golf. There are 63 current or former Rolex Junior All-Americans in the field, with a total of 92 AJGA champions competing.
Past winners of the Rolex Tournament of Champions include Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Charles Howell, David Gossett, Webb Simpson, Sam Burns, Heather Farr, Kellee Booth, Inbee Park, Morgan Pressel and Alison Lee.
Chinn, a Duke verbal commit, started his round with pars on Nos. 10 and 11 before going on a tear over Nos. 12-14. He birdied all three holes, which consisted of a par-5, par-3 and par-4, in that order. Chinn gave a stroke back with a bogey on the par-4 No. 15, but he made up for it with a birdie on No. 18 to make the turn at 3-under-par 33. The 2019 Rolex Junior All-American proceeded to go bogey-free on his back nine, with a total of five birdies, four of which came in a row on Nos. 3-6.
Chinn is seeking his first AJGA victory. The 16-year-old finished T3 earlier this year at the Justin Thomas Junior Championship and reached the semifinals of the U.S. Junior Amateur. He is ranked No. 45 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Jimmy Zheng of Auckland, New Zealand, and Tyler Wilkes of Tampa, Florida, are T2 at 6-under-par 66. Both golfers carded bogey-free rounds with a total of six birdies each. Zheng, another Duke commit, won the 2018 Ryan Moore Junior Championship and is No. 47 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. Wilkes is committed to the University of Florida and has won three AJGA events.
Karl Vilips of (Australia) Wesley Chapel, Florida, is in fourth at 5-under-par 67. The Stanford University signee has won five AJGA events and is No. 1 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. He won the 2019 Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational.
Brett Roberts of Coral Springs, Florida, Brendan Valdes of Orlando, and Vishnu Sadagopan of Pearland, Texas, are T5 at 4-under-par 68.
Hillary, Zhang, and Rivers hold a two-stroke lead over the Girls Division after round one.
Hillary earned her first AJGA victory in August at the AJGA Junior at Big Sky. The Northwestern signee struggled out of the gate at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, carding one birdie to three bogeys in her first five holes. The senior rallied on her back nine however, firing four birdies, including three-straight on Nos. 16-18 to end her round at 1-under-par 71. Hillary was honored as the female recipient of the 2019 Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award at the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet.
Zhang, the 2019 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, had an up-and down round. The Stanford verbal commit posted five birdies to four bogeys. Zhang is seeking her seventh AJGA victory and fifth Invitational title. The 16-year-old won the 2019 Swinging Skirts AJGA Invitational for the second-straight year in August.
Rivers fired a bogey-free front nine with three birdies to make the turn at 3-under-par 33. She added another birdie on her back nine before posting three bogeys to finish at 1-under-par 71. Rivers is No. 64 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and won her first AJGA event earlier this year at the Coca-Cola Junior Championship at Boyne Highlands. Rivers is 14-years-old and has three top-3 finishes in 2019.
Second-round tee times run from 7:30 - 9:20 a.m. on Tuesday, November 26. The Girls Division will be competing on the Fazio Course, while the Boys Division will play the Champion.