WRIGHT, DRAKE SHOOT 68; LEAD BOYS DIVISION AT AJGA ANDOVER OPEN
Belcher hits 14 fairways and 16 greens; leads Girls Division by three strokes
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Chase Wright of Muncie, Ind., who qualified for the AJGA Andover Open just two days ago, is tied for the lead after the first round with Steven Drake of Findlay, Ohio, with matching 4-under-par 68s. Kellye Belcher of Bartlett, Tenn., leads the Girls Divison with a 2-under-par 70. She set the pace for the girls with four birdies and two bogeys during the first round of play.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Andover Open is being held at the Andover Golf & Country Club. Ninety-nine junior golfers from 16 states, 25 from Kentucky, are competing in the 54-hole stroke-play event.
Wright said he played consistently throughout the round, helping him score birdies on Nos. 2, 8, 11, 13 and 17. He said he came out hoping to stay within reach of the first-round leaders, not expecting to be one of them.
“I tried not to take myself out of it after the first day,” Wright said. “It feels pretty good to be leading — I've always had to come from behind — but I played pretty solid all day. It was consistent, and I was rolling the ball pretty well.”
Drake managed to birdie every par-5 during the round due, in some part, to his hitting every green on the front nine.
“Lately, I've been striking the ball as good as I ever have,” he said. “It's easier that way instead of grinding to get up and down.”
Kent Bulle of Glasgow, Ky., came in third with a 3-under-par 69. Tied for fourth are Joseph Barr of Versailles, Ky., Alex Volpenhein of Edgewood, Ky., Kyle Thomas of Fishers, Ind., and Zach Spees of Centreville, Va., with 2-under-par 70s.
In the Girls Division, Belcher relied on consistency off the tee and in the fairways to jumpstart her to an early first-round lead. She and her father have a saying: ‘If you never miss a fairway, never miss a green and never miss a putt — you should play pretty well.' Belcher did not play far from it as she hit 14 fairways, 16 greens and had 32 putts.
“It makes me feel like I should be able to come and shoot lower the next two days,” she said. “I just want to keep improving my score every day.”
Belcher, who tied for eighth in last year's Andover Open, said she was also pleased overall with her putting during the round.
“I was here at 5:15 this morning working on my putting,” she said. “I didn't expect to play well until I got out here.”
Tied for second in the Girls Divison with 1-over-par 73s are Kayla Stewart of Cookeville, Tenn., Courtney Ellenbogen of Blacksburg, Va., and Jessica Smith of Louisville, Ky.
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 AJGA, the largest Association of its kind, has a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of 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, Dottie Pepper, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
Second-round tee times will begin Wednesday at 7 a.m. The girls will tee off first, followed by the boys who start at 8:12 a.m. For more information about the AJGA Andover Open, call tournament headquarters at (859) 263-4335.