Billy Horschel Junior Championship presented by Zurich
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Billy Horschel Junior Championship presented by Zurich

Rivera, Hwang take early lead at Billy Horschel AJGA event

The second round starts Sunday morning at 8:15 a.m.

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. — Jackson Rivera of Rancho Santa Fe, California, and Caroline Hwang of Orlando, lead the first round of the third annual Billy Horschel Junior Championship presented by Zurich.

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).

Rivera leads the Boys Division by a slim margin with 14 points thanks to nine birdies (Nos. 1-4, 8-9, 12, 14 and 18). The Torrey Pines High School junior is a two-time Rolex Junior All-American making his first appearance at the Stableford tournament. So far in 2019, the USC verbal commit finished 15th at the C.T. Pan Junior Championship.

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Trailing by a point is Zikang Zhan of Beijing, China, at 13 points. The 16-year-old secured his AJGA career-best finish of T11 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Junior honoring Jim Bell in July.

Alexander Gibalevich of Studio City, California, sits in third with 12 points. He finished T20 at the Sergio and Angela Garcia Foundation Junior Championship presented by Callaway Golf in April.

Hwang paces the Girls Division by three points after an opening round that included a 6-under-par 30 on the front nine with six birdies. The 16-year-old has collected nine top-10 finishes in four seasons of national junior golf including a pair of fifth-place finishes in 2019. The Olympia High School junior competed in the 2017 Billy Horschel Junior Championship presented by Zurich.

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Mayumi Umezu of Port St. Lucie, Florida, sits in second and is playing in her fourth AJGA tournament in her first season of national junior golf. The 16-year-old finished T5 at the AJGA Junior at Naples in July.

Sophia Burnett of Bluffton, South Carolina, is looking for her first AJGA victory. The Furman verbal commit had three top-five finishes in June and July, including a runner-up at the Stewart Cink Championship by Transamerica.

Second-round tee times will run from 8:15 to 10:15 a.m. on Sunday, October 13.

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 (ACE) Grant.

The goal of the AJGA’s Achieving Competitive Excellence (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.