Jay Leng Jr of San Diego, California, leads the Boys Division by one stroke after the first round of The PING Invitational. Thanana Kotchasanmanee of Rome, Georgia, and Angela (Yilin) Liu of Irvine, California, share the Girls Division lead at 3-under-par 69.
The 16th 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 21 Rolex Junior All-Americans and 52 AJGA champions in the field. In addition, there are 39 college commits and 11 players hailing from eight international countries.
Leng Jr had a hot start by making a birdie on the par-5 No. 1. He made three pars before making his first of two bogeys on No. 5. Jay made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7 and 8. His second bogey of the day came on No. 10 but he bounced back with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14. Leng Jr finished the first round with a 3-under-par 69. This is his first appearance at The PING Invitational.
I hit the ball incredible today. I made a couple of long putts that includes an 80-foot-putt on No. 8. Hopefully I can keep it up the next two days.
Leng Jr is a Stanford University commit. He won the UHY St. Louis Junior this past summer and is currently No. 25 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Jack Roberts of Saint Marys, Georgia, is one-stroke back after shooting a 2-under-par 70. His round included three back-to-back birdies in his opening holes and two additional birdies on the back nine. Roberts ultimately closed with bogeys on Nos. 17 and 18.
There are five players tied for third. Ethan Gao of Alpharetta, Georgia, Byungho Lee of Plano, Texas, PJ Maybank of Cheboygan, Michigan, Carson Kim of Yorba Linda, California, and Preston Stout of Richardson, Texas, are all in the hunt to win. They are all currently sitting three back of the leader.
Kotchasanmanee and Liu lead the Girls Division by two strokes at 3-under-par 69. Both players carded six birdies total and had to overcome tough scores on the first hole. Kotchasanmanee made a bogey on No. 1 to start her round. She proceeded to make two birdies and two more bogeys on the front nine to make the turn at 1-over-par 37. Kotchasanmanee had a strong back nine by making four birdies and five pars to end the day under par. Liu started with a double-bogey on No. 1. She did not let that deter her from making four birdies before the turn. Starting the back nine at 2-under-par 34, Liu made two more birdies to finish the day on top of the leaderboard.
Kotchasanmanee owns a runner-up finish at the 2022 Rome Junior Classic presented by Piedmont Bank and a runner-up finish at the 2021 Matthew NeSmith Junior Championship. She is currently ranked No. 35 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Karsten Creek is similar to the course that I practice at in my hometown. I really love it here, and it makes me miss Thailand.
Liu has posted multiple wins this year. She won The Rochford Foundation / Dave Stockton Junior Championship and the PGA WEST Junior Championship. She is No. 47 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
My putting was my strong suit today and that helped me a lot. My plan for tomorrow is to keep hitting fairways and keep hitting greens. It would mean a lot to win this tournament because it's so iconic.
Megan Meng of Pennington, New Jersey, and Siuue Wu of Reunion, Florida, are T3 at 1-under-par 71.
Defending champion, Gianna Clemente of Estero, Florida, and Jasmine Koo of Cerritos, California round out the top five at even-par 72.
Second-round tee times run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. off No. 1 on Sunday, October 9, 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:
2021 - Benjamin James and Gianna Clemente
2020 - Kelly Chinn and Rose Zhang
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.