FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Reigning 2019 KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational Girls Division champion Leigh Chien of Irvine, Calif., shares a portion of the first-round lead at 3-under-par 69 with Caiyi (Flora) Zhang of (China) Bradenton, Florida. Byungho Lee of (South Korea) Houston paces the Boys Division by two strokes at 2-under-par 70.
The 54-hole stroke play event was founded by Stacy Lewis and partner KPMG in 2015 as a unique addition to the AJGA’s schedule designed to promote equity, friendly competition, and reinforce the importance of ethics, integrity and leadership in junior golf. The 56-player field consists of an equal number of top boys and girls, ages 12-15, from the around the world who compete in mixed twosomes. Past champions have earned Rolex Junior Player of the Year honors, top 25 Rolex AJGA Rankings status, and 39 AJGA wins.
Blessings Golf Club has hosted the event since its inception, other than its redesign year in 2017, as well as the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Individual and Team Championships.
Chien and Zhang recorded the event’s only rounds of the day in the 60s. Chien, No. 24 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, recorded both nines under par to earn a share of the lead. The 14-year-old finished runner-up June 25 at the 2020 Insperity Invitational / Patrick Reed AJGA Junior Championship in Texas.
Zhang combined a front-nine 1-over 37 with a back-nine 4-under-par 32 to climb the leaderboard. The 15-year-old rising high school sophomore medaled at her first AJGA event in 2019, the CBS Sports Preview at Forsgate (12-15). She compiled four top-seven finishes in 2019.
Mara Janess of Barrington, Ill., is two strokes off the lead at 1-under-par 71.
Lee took the lead in the Boys Division with three pars and two birdies in his final five holes of the day. The rising high school freshman – one of four Class of 2024 boys – is playing in his third season of national junior golf. He competed at the 2020 AJGA Thunderbird Junior All-Star one week ago in Phoenix and is seeking his first AJGA win.
Two strokes back and tied at even-par 72 are five players: Ben DeLaRosa of Dallas; Colton Cherry of Las Vegas; Jaivir Pande of Houston; Anawin Pikulthong of Gilbert, Ariz.; and Kush Arora of Pleasanton, Calif.
Returning 2019 KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational Boys Division champion You Seong Choi of (South Korea) Hacienda Heights, Calif., sits seven strokes off the lead at 5-over-par 77.
In addition to individual stroke play champions, a boys versus girls team champion is crowned each year by combined the top four boys and girls scores to determine the team winner. Boys lead the series 3-2, but the Girls captured the title in 2018 and 2019. The Girls lead by four strokes at 6-under-par 282 after the first round.
Second round KPMG Stacy Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational begin on Wednesday, July 1 at 7:00 a.m. off the No. 1 tee.
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