FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – Caroline Hwang of Orlando, is running away from the Girls Division at the Billy Horschel Junior Championship presented by Zurich, while Jackson Rivera of Rancho Santa Fe, California, and Brendan Valdes of Orlando, are tied atop the Boys Division after two rounds.
The tournament, held at Eagle Harbor Golf Club, is the only Stableford format event on the American Junior Golf Association’s annual schedule. Created in 2017 with the support of Billy and Brittany Horschel, both accomplished AJGA alumni, the modified format rewards risk-taking because birdies are two points while bogeys are punitive (-1). The worst score possible is double bogey (-3).
Hwang entered the second round with a three-point lead over the Girls Division at 16 points after posting eight birdies and zero bogeys in round one. She followed that performance with five more birdies in the second round to reach a total of 26 points. The high school junior has yet to make a bogey through 36 holes and leads by 10 points. Hwang is coming off a fifth-place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Junior honoring Jim Bell in July.
Casey Weidenfeld of Pembroke Pines, Florida, sits in second after bouncing back from her five-point total in round one with 11 points in round two. The Auburn verbal commit is a two-time AJGA champion who is currently No. 41 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. Weidenfeld finished second at this year’s Bass Pro Shops / Payne Stewart Junior Championship.
Mayumi Umezu of Port St Lucie, Florida, is in third with 15 points. This is Umezu’s fourth AJGA tournament with her best finish being T5 at the AJGA Junior at Naples earlier this year.
Rivera entered the day with a one-point lead after firing nine first-round birdies to reach 14 points. The USC verbal commit didn’t waste any time adding to his lead, opening his round with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 1 and 2. Those are two of three holes (No. 12) that he has birdied in both rounds. Rivera followed his birdies with seven-consecutive pars to make the turn at 2-under-par 34 with a total of four points on the day. The two-time Rolex Junior All-American would add three birdies and a bogey on his back nine to finish the day with nine points and a tournament total of 23. Rivera is seeking his first AJGA victory since the 2017 KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational.
Valdes finished the first round with nine points, though he stormed back in round two. The Auburn verbal commit fired seven birdies and zero bogeys for a 7-under-par 65 and a total of 14 points. He’s carded just one bogey to 12 birdies through 36 holes. The 2018 Rolex Junior All-American is No. 52 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and seeking his first AJGA victory.
Zikang Zhan of Beijing, China, sits just one-point back in third with a total of 22 points. He’s carded 12 birdies through two rounds. Zhan finished T11 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Junior honoring Jim Bell earlier this year.
Frankie Harris of Boca Raton, Florida, is in fourth with 21 points, while Adam Bratton of Newburgh, Indiana, rounds out the top five with 20 points.
Final-round tee times will run from 8:15 to 10:15 a.m. on Monday, October 14.
In addition to crowning champions of the event, the Horschels will dedicate event proceeds to support local charities and help endow an AJGA Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant.
The goal of the AJGA’s ACE Grant program is to give top-flight golf opportunities to young golfers regardless of financial resources. This program helps to fulfill the AJGA’s mission of developing young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf.
About the Horschels
Billy and Brittany have a deep connection to junior golf and the AJGA. In 2004 they met playing in the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic, now known as the Evitt Foundation RTC Junior All-Star. They went on to play in a total of four events together and eventually moved on to play collegiate golf at the University of Florida.
Billy’s AJGA career consisted of two top-10 finishes, with his best finish coming at the PING Junior at Mirasol. During her AJGA career, Brittany had seven top-10 finishes, including her best finish of third at the Fore!Kids Junior at TPC of Louisiana in 2004. On the PGA TOUR, Horschel has 37 top-10 finishes, including five victories. In 2014, he won two events and collected five top-10 finishes which led to him claiming the FedEx Cup. Billy also serves on the Foundation Board of Directors and is one of nearly 40 players who give back to the AJGA.