BOWLING GREEN, FLORIDA -- On his 18th birthday, Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut, celebrated with a Moving Day for the ages at the inaugural Team TaylorMade Invitational. He ended at 12-under-par 132 with a two-stroke lead and a round of 9-under-par 63, good for T9 on the all-time AJGA record book.
James went 7-under-par through 13 holes before play was suspended for weather at Streamsong Resort. The two-time Rolex Junior All-American birdied three consecutive holes on Nos. 1-3 and Nos. 5-7 to go bogey free 6-under-par 30 on the front nine. After a four-hour delay, James eagled the par 5 No. 14.
Ten days ago, James won the Scott Robertson Junior by five strokes. The AJGA champion is chasing his first career Invitational victory.
Coming in, I had a good warm-up. I started out well in my past couple tournaments and the putter's been hot the whole week, so I trusted that. Obviously I was very happy and I felt like my game was in a really good spot. I had to make a totally new game plan.
Ethan Gao of Alpharetta, Georgia, was bogey free at 8-under-par 64 and 10-under-par 134. The Rolex Junior All-American closed the second 18 holes with birdies on four of the last five holes (Nos. 14, 16-18). Gao won in 2020 (Callaway Golf Junior Classic presented by UHY) and 2019 (AJGA Junior All-Star at Quail Creek presented by City of Robinson), and had a top-four finish one month ago.
Maxwell Ford of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, sits three strokes back of the lead at 9-under-par 135. The high school senior shot a bogey free 5-under-par 67 in the second round to remain atop the leaderboard.
First-round co-leader Mehrbaan Singh of Ashburn, Virginia, is four strokes from the lead at 8-under-par 136.
In a three-way tie for fifth at 7-under-par 137 are Caleb Surratt of Indian Trail, North Carolina, Bryan Lee of Fairfax, Virginia, Sihan Sandhu of Pinehurst, North Carolina, and Jackson Norwich of El Paso, Texas.
Norwich shot a bogey free 7-under-par 65 to move into contention for the first time at an AJGA Invitational. He gained entry into the field just two days before the official practice round and is unsigned to a college just 10 days before his graduation at Coronado High School. The 18-year-old nearly jarred a hole-in-one on the par 3 No. 16 with a 5 iron and made four birdies on the back nine.
About Team TaylorMade
TaylorMade has been involved with the AJGA as a product supplier and partner for more than 25 years, joining as an Official Partner in 2011 and investing fully as a National Sponsor in 2016. The Official Golf Ball of the AJGA, Team TaylorMade athletes Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa, Sierra Brooks, Maria Fassi, Sung Hyun Park, and Charley Hull all have ties to the AJGA as player alumni, tournament hosts or program supporters.
About TaylorMade Golf Company
Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, TaylorMade Golf is a leading manufacturer of high performance golf equipment, golf balls and accessories with industry-leading innovative products like SIM2 metalwoods, SIM2 irons, P Series irons, TP5/TP5X golf balls and Spider putters. A major force across the world's professional tours, TaylorMade has an unrivaled athlete portfolio that includes Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Matthew Wolff, Collin Morikawa, Harry Higgs, SH Park, Charley Hull, Maria Fassi and Sierra Brooks.