Bruce Murphy of Johns Creek, Georgia, fired an opening round of 7-under-par 65 on the PGA National Resort & Spa – Fazio Course to take a two-stroke lead over the Boys Division at the Rolex Tournament of Champions. In the Girls Division, two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year Rose Zhang of Irvine, California, leads the field by two strokes after recording a 2-under-par 70 on the Champion Course.
The 43rd edition of the Rolex Tournament of Champions features 144 of the best junior golfers in the world from 26 states and seven 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 81 current or former Rolex Junior All-Americans in the field, with a total of 91 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.
Murphy, a University of Tennessee verbal commit, started his round with an eagle on the par-4 No. 2 and birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 to close out his front nine. His back nine included birdies on Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 18. The two-time AJGA Champion is looking for his first AJGA Invitational title this week in his first Invitational start. Murphy finished inside the top six in all five of his AJGA starts during the 2020 season.
Two strokes back of Murphy in solo second is fellow Georgia native, William Love of Atlanta. Love recorded a bogey-free round that included five birdies for a 5-under-par 67. The Duke University verbal commit and AJGA Champion is also in pursuit of his first AJGA Invitational win.
Nine boys sit in third at 4-under-par 68:
- Sean-Karl Dobson of Austin, Texas
- Anawin Pikulthong of Gilbert, Arizona
- J. Holland Humphries of Austin, Texas
- Zach Heffernan of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas
- Thomas Morrison of Dallas, Texas
- Keaton Vo of Austin, Texas
- Bryan Lee of Fairfax, Virginia
- Brendan Valdes of Orlando, Florida
- Kiko Francisco Coelho of (Portugal) Lake Mary, Florida
Zhang is defending her Rolex Tournament of Champions title this week. She started her defense with a bogey-free round of 2-under-par 70 that included two birdies on Nos. 10 and 12. The reigning two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year has gone her last 79 holes at the Rolex Tournament of Champions without registering a single bogey. Her last bogey came on hole No. 11 of the Champion Course during the first round of the 2019 tournament.
The Stanford verbal commit is already a two-time AJGA Invitational champion this year with wins at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and The PING Invitational. Zhang also won the U.S. Women’s Amateur and finished T11 at the ANA Inspiration.
Hyo Joon Jang of Seoul, South Korea, sits in solo second at even-par 72. The No. 64 player in the Rolex AJGA Rankings finished T2 at the AJGA Girls Championship and third at the AJGA Junior at Oldfield.
Five girls share third on the leaderboard at 1-over-par 73:
- Amanda Sambach of Davidson, North Carolina
- Faith Choi of Frederick, Maryland
- Xin (Cindy) Kou of (China) Whittier, California
- Lucy Yuan of (Canada) San Diego, California
- Izzy M. Pellot of Altamonte Springs, Florida
Second-round tee times run from 7:30 - 9:20 a.m. on Thursday, November 26. The Girls Division will be competing on the Fazio Course, while the Boys Division will play the Champion.
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Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. It's Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. The word “Perpetual” is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 500 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Furthermore, Rolex is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.