ROLEX PLAYER OF THE YEAR UIHLEIN CONTINUES SOLID PLAY WITH 67
Donovan and Kim tied at top of Girls Division after first round of medal play
SEA ISLAND, Ga. — Rolex Junior Player of the Year Peter Uihlein of Bradenton, Fla., opened the Polo Golf Junior Classic with a bang Monday, overcoming windy conditions to record a 5-under-par 67 and grab a two-shot lead after the first round of medal play. In the Girls Division, Kimberly Donovan of Hopkinton, Mass., and In-Kyung Kim of Hilton Head Island, S.C., share the first-round lead with matching 2-under-par 68s.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Polo Golf Junior Classic, which has been conducted annually since 1978, marks the first tournament of the AJGA's 2006 season. The 159-player invitation-only field is made up of 87 boys and 72 girls, ages 12-18, from 28 states and six foreign countries (Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden).
The event consists of 36 holes of stroke play, after which the field is cut to the top 32 boys and 32 girls. Match play then decides the champion in each division. Sea Island's Seaside (par 70) and Plantation (par 72) courses will be used during the stroke play rounds and the first round of match play. The Seaside will be the lone course utilized during the final four rounds of match play competition.
The list of former champions at the Polo Golf Junior Classic is one of the most impressive on the AJGA's schedule of 74 events. Morgan Pressel (2004), Brian Harman (2003), Paula Creamer (2002), Nick Dougherty (1999), Hunter Mahan (1998), Beth Bauer (1995, 1997), Trevor Immelman (1995), Grace Park (1994, 1996), Tiger Woods (1991) and Stewart Cink (1989) all won the prestigious title during their careers with the AJGA.
Uihlein, who won three national junior golf tournaments in 2005, came out firing on the front nine of the Plantation Course. The 16-year-old made consecutive birdies on Nos. 5, 6 and 7, including holing out from greenside bunkers on Nos. 6 and 7 en route to a 33. He continued his strong play on the back nine to finish the day at 5-under-par.
“I scrambled really well all day long and got away with a lot of things,” Uihlein said. “Today just felt like an even-par day with a bunch of lucky breaks.”
Drew Kittleson of Scottsdale, Ariz., who won the Heather Farr Classic in March, sits alone in second place after carding a 3-under-par 69. Tyler Morris of Encinitas, Calif., and Philip Francis of Scottsdale, are tied for third with matching 2-under-par 70s. Six players are tied for fifth place with 1-under-par 71s. They include Matthew Pierce, Jr. of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Kyle Stanley of Gig Harbor, Wash., Jeffrey Edelman of Southlake, Texas, Shunsuke Sonoda of Tokyo, Japan, Eugene Wong of North Vancouver, British Columbia, and Richard Lee of Vancouver, British Columbia.
In the Girls Division, Kimberly Donovan, champion of the Mizuno Junior at Chateau Elan and the 22nd Annual Scott Robertson Memorial, started out her first round with an impressive chip-in on the first hole on the Seaside Course for birdie. She kept that momentum going throughout the day, hitting 14 greens and notching two more birdies while shooting a 2-under-par 68.
“I putted well today and had lots of pars,” Donovan said. “I'm confident in my game right now and hope to keep it up.”
Kim, winner of the U.S. Girls' Junior and the Hargray Junior Classic, wasn't quite as consistent as Donovan in her first round, but still managed to end up in a tie for first place with a 68. Kim's round included six birdies, three on each side.
“I played pretty good on the front side but felt much more comfortable on the back nine,” Kim said. “I really like the Seaside Course and feel comfortable on the greens.”
Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Ariz., shot an even-par 70 to finish the first round tied for third. Marika Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., runner-up at the 2004 Polo Golf Junior Classic, is tied with Karle going into the final day of medal play.
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 has a 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.
Second round tee times begin at 7:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at the Seaside and Plantation Courses. For more information about the Polo Golf Junior Classic, contact Steve Ethun at (678) 571-7994.