LOVEMARK HOLDS LEAD AND THREATENING TOURNAMENT RECORD
Munoz ascends to top of leaderboard with second-round 68
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., carded a second consecutive 6-under-par 66 en route to increasing his lead to four strokes following two rounds at the Thunderbird International Junior. In the Girls Division, Azahara Munoz of San Pedro De Alcantara, Spain, grabbed the lead following Sunday's 4-under-par 68.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the sixth annual Thunderbird International Junior is being held on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club. The tournament field is comprised of 84 boys and girls ages 12-18 from 16 states and 12 foreign countries.
The Thunderbird International Junior annually attracts the top junior golfers in the world with 50 Rolex Junior All-Americans present this year. Past champions of the event include Virada Nirapathpongporn, Ryan Moore, Casey Wittenberg, Brittany Lang and Rob Grube. Last year's Girls Division champion Belen Mozo of Cadiz, Spain, returns in 2005 to defend her title.
Lovemark's round included seven birdies and was highlighted by a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 14 after just missing a 3-foot putt for par on No. 13 and a birdie on No. 7 after punching out of the desert from his knees.
I only hit it in the desert once today, on No. 7, Lovemark said. It was really hard getting under that tree and on my knees. I was really happy to make birdie from there.
The Rolex Junior All-American hit 12 fairways and 14 greens with 26 putts during his round of 66.
I played better today, the senior-to-be remarked, despite matching 66s. I hit my irons a lot closer and had a couple of tap-in birdies; it just seemed a lot easier.
Lovemark will be looking to best Ryan Moore's tournament record 14-under-par 202 in tomorrow's final round.
The golf course is really in pristine condition, Lovemark said. It's awesome to be in the lead at such a great tournament and great venue; I really hope I don't mess it up.
Trailing Lovemark by four shots and currently in second is Roberto Galletti, Jr.of Clayton, Calif., with rounds of 67-69136. Erik Flores of Grass Valley, Calif., Kyle Stanley of Gig Harbor, Wash., and Randy Lowry of Spring, Texas, are tied for third with matching tournament totals of 7-under-par 137.
In the Girls Division, 17-year-old Munoz trailed by one stroke entering Sunday's second round.
I hit my irons close and I putted really well today, Munoz said. I hit the ball great today, but I know I can do better.
Munoz, who carded five birdies, is very excited to be atop the leaderboard at one of the elite junior golf tournaments in the world.
Tomorrow I'm going to need to improve my approach shots if I want to stay at the top, Munoz remarked. I just need to stay consistent.
First-round leader Juliana Murcia of Bogota, Columbia stands in second, one stroke behind Munoz, with rounds of 69-70139. Rolex Junior All-American Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla., is tied for second with Murcia following rounds of 70-69139.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The largest Association of its kind, the AJGA has a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
Final-round tee times will run from 7-8:57 a.m., off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees on the Raptor Course. For more information about the Thunderbird International Junior, please contact tournament headquarters at (480) 502-1800. Follow the action live at ajga.org.