Kelly Chinn of Great Falls, Virginia, leads the Boys Division by one stroke after the first round of The PING Invitational. Sophie Zhang-Murphy of Saratoga, California, and Catherine Rao of Camarillo, California, share the Girls Division lead at 3-under-par 69.
The 14th PING Invitational showcases the best of the next generation of future college and professional stars. The tournament is hosted at Karsten Creek, home to the Oklahoma State University Men's and Women's Golf teams.
There are 22 Rolex Junior All-Americans and 52 AJGA champions in the field. In addition, there are 44 college commits and five players hailing from four international countries.
Chinn got off to an up-and-down start with two bogeys and a birdie on his opening nine. The 2019 Rolex Junior All-American bounced back on his back nine however, carding a 3-under-par 33 to take the tournament lead at 2-under-par 70. This is his first appearance at The PING Invitational.
My number one goal is to finish the year off with a win. That would be really special to start my season with a win at the Rolex Tournament of Champions and then end it here with another one at Karsten Creek.
Chinn is a Duke University commit. His lone AJGA victory came at the 2019 Rolex Tournament of Champions.
Luke Potter of Encinitas, California, Gordon Sargent of Birmingham, Alabama, and Cayden Pope of Lexington, Kentucky, are T2 at 1-under-par 71. The trio combined for nine birdies and an eagle.
David Ford of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, and Keaton Vo of Austin, Texas, are T5 at even-par 72. Ford is seeking his third AJGA Invitational of the year, after winning the AJGA Invitational at Sedgefield and The Junior PLAYERS Championship.
Zhang-Murphy and Rao lead the Girls Division by one stroke at 3-under-par 69. Zhang-Murphy carded six birdies, with four of those coming over a span of five holes (Nos. 10-14). Rao posted a bogey-free back nine that featured three birdies. Both golfers are competing at The PING Invitational for the first time.
Zhang-Murphy owns four AJGA victories. Of her seven AJGA appearances this year, Zhang-Murphy owns five top-6 finishes and two wins. The high school junior is No. 12 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
I've played well this year through some swing changes and my putting was working really well today. I was hitting a lot of fairways and I hope to keep that up the rest of the weekend.
Rao won the 2018 AJGA Junior All-Star at Wood Ranch. She's earned three top-10 finishes this year. Rao was recently honored as a member of the 2020 AJGA Junior All-Star Team. She's No. 23 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
I was making a lot of good putts and that was really saving me out there. Combining that with a stronger mental game and giving myself a positive focus led to a really great round.
Rose Zhang and Leigh Chien, both from Irvine, California, are T3 at 2-under-par 70. Zhang is the reigning 2019 Rolex Junior Player of the Year with two Invitational wins already this season.
Paris Hilinski of Los Angeles, Frances Kim of Rolling Hills Estate, California, Kyung Eun Lee of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Alexa Pano of Lake Worth, Florida, are T5 at 1-under-par 71.
Second-round tee times run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:40 p.m. off No. 1 on Sunday, October 11, at Karsten Creek.
The PING Invitational History
The inaugural PING Invitational took place in 2006. The first edition of the tournament was won by 5-time Rolex Junior All-American Andrew Yun and four-time Rolex Junior All-American Esther Choe. In addition to her victory at The PING Invitational, Choe also won the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the Polo Golf Junior Classic that year.
Jordan Spieth is the only two-time champion in tournament history (2008 and 2010). Canon Claycomb broke Spieth's 54-hole scoring record in 2017 when he eagled the final hole of the tournament to reach 9-under-par 207.
Past champions are listed below:
2018 - Michael Thorbjornsen and Rose Zhang
2017 - Canon Claycomb and Lucy Li
2016 - Noah Norton and Paphangkorn Tavatanakit
2015 - Spencer Soosman and Nelly Korda
2014 - Donnie Trosper and Kaitlyn Papp
2013 - Brad Dalke and Megan Khang
2012 - Gavin Hall and Alison Lee
2011 - A.J. McInerney and Jaye Marie Green
2010 - Jordan Spieth and Kristen Park
2009 - Emiliano Grillo and Rachel Morris
2008 - Jordan Spieth and Victoria Tanco
2007 - Gregor Main and Vicky Hurst
2006 - Andrew Yun and Esther Choe
PING, a golf club manufacturer with the goal to help golfers play their best, has been an AJGA supporter since 1990 and began supporting the PING Phoenix Junior in 1991. The PING Invitational, one of the AJGA's top Invitationals held over Columbus Day weekend, began in 2006 at Karsten Creek. The PING Junior Solheim Cup, the all-girls match play biennial event, has received worldwide recognition and many participants are able to say they played for their country as a junior and professional.
PING, an Official Partner since 2002, sponsors PING College Golf Signing Day and in 2009, became "The Official Bag of the AJGA." In 2010, PING debuted golf bags for all AJGA champions.
About Karsten Creek Golf Club
Former Oklahoma State University head golf coach and current Athletic Director Mike Holder first envisioned Karsten Creek Golf Club in the 1970's. His goal was to create a sanctuary for college golf. With the help of renowned golf course designer Tom Fazio, that dream took shape over the next two decades.
On May 9th, 1994, Karsten Creek Golf Club officially opened, and was named "Best New Course" in the country by Golf Digest.
The course was named in honor of the late Karsten Solheim, founder of Karsten Manufacturing (PING). Lake Louise, featured on the finishing holes, was named in honor of Karsten's wife.
Karsten Creek Golf Club is home to the Oklahoma State Men's and Women's golf programs.