FRANCIS CONTINUES TO SHINE DURING RAIN-FILLED ROUND TO LEAD ROLEX TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Simon increases lead to five stroke in Girls Division
EVERGREEN, Colo. -With rain engulfing most of Saturday's third round, Philip Francis of Scottsdale, Ariz., finished with a 2-under-par 208 to give him a one stroke lead heading into the final round Sunday. Ashleigh Simon of Johannesburg, South Africa, increased her lead in the Girls Division to five strokes by carding three-day total of 211.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Rolex Tournament of Champions is a 72-hole stroke-play event with a cut in both divisions after two rounds. The 144-player field features 67 Rolex Junior All-Americans and players from 30 states and five countries. After Friday's round, the field was cut to 77 players with the cut line at 7-over-par, 147, in the Boys Division and 15-over-par, 155, in the Girls Division. In the event's 29th year, the Rolex Tournament of Champions is one of 10 Invitationals on the AJGA schedule and is the longest running AJGA tournament.
Carding two birdies and 12 pars, Francis kept his lead in the Boys Division by finishing with a third- round score of 72. Francis explained that his success was due to staying true to his game.
â€śI wanted to play solid golf against the field,â€ť Francis said. â€śIt's easy to lose ground, but it is hard to make it up, so I just wanted to play my own game.â€ť
While playing his round during the rainy weather, Francis explained how the rain was a beneficial factor towards his game.
â€śThe rain eliminates half the field, the players that play bad in the rain and the players that want to win,â€ť Francis said.
Only one stroke behind the leader, Andrew Yun of Tacoma, Wash. finished with a score of 209 to move him into second place. In third-place honors were Steve Ziegler of Broomfield, Colo., and Peter Uihlein, both finishing with 210s. Finishing in fifth place was Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., by turning in a three-day score of 211.
Carrying over from the second round, Simon used her confidence to put her in a good position for the final round after finishing with a third-round score of 70.
â€śI wanted to play level golf, just trying to make as many birdies as possible,â€ť Simon said. â€śI really hit my fairways and got up and down on the front nine well.â€ť
Tied with second-place honors were Taylore Karle and Esther Choe, both of Scottsdale, Ariz., finishing with 216s. Carding three-day totals of 217, Stephanie Kono of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Lizette Salas of Azusa, Calif., are tied for fourth place after the third round.
Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. Along with sponsoring the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, Rolex is also the title partner of the Rolex Tournament of Champions and the proprietors of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams.
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 an annual 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, which is in its third decade of support, 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, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung and Paula Creamer.
The final-round starting times of the Rolex Tournament of Champions will begin at 7 a.m. Sunday, July 9 off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Hiwan Golf Club. For more information, contact tournament headquarters at (303) 674-3366.