HWANG CHARGES TO THREE-SHOT LEAD WITH SECOND-ROUND 69
Green and Goodspeed neck-and-neck heading into final round
ABILENE, Texas — Stephanie Hwang of Heath, Texas, hit 11 greens and made four birdies to overtake Rachel Morris of Carlsbad, Calif., for the lead in the Girls Division Thursday with a two-day score of 142. Andrew Green of Edmond, Okla., eagled No. 9 and added two birdies on the back side, while Guy Goodspeed of Del Rio, Texas, birdied six holes, each carding a two-day total of 139 and taking a two-stroke lead.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Dodge/Bob Estes Abilene Junior is being held at Fairway Oaks Country Club. The tournament is celebrating its 26th anniversary, and is being held at Fairway Oaks for the 16th year. The par-72 course was set up at 7,005 yards for the Boys Division and 6,042 yards for the Girls Division. The tournament field consists of 90 boys and 30 girls, ages 12-18, from 16 states, Ecuador and Indonesia. The field includes 77 Texas residents, six of which reside in Abilene.
Hwang improved by four strokes the second day of play, shooting even-par on the front side and 3-under-par on the back side, for a round total of 69. Hwang, who counts on her chipping week after week, said that her all-around game was right on target.
“Everything was working well, and a lot better than usual,” said Hwang. “I made a lot of unbelievable putts and even though I got into the sand a lot, those shots came out well and the ball landed close to the flagstick.”
As for the final round of the tournament, Hwang has feelings of both excitement and surprise wrapped up into one.
“I'm surprised. I didn't expect to shoot a 69 today because on the second day I tend to shoot a higher score,” said Hwang. “As for tomorrow, I try not to think about my place in the tournament and instead pray a lot and go with the flow.”
Three girls stand tied for second after 36 holes at Fairway Oaks Country Club. Morris, who shot 67 in the first round, shot 3-over-par on the front and back sides to total 78 and 145 for the tournament. Chandra Alexander of Snyder, Texas, and Diane Kwon of Fremont, Calif., also stand three strokes off the leader after firing 74 and 71, respectively, and 145 after two rounds.
Green held strong in the Boys Division, carding a 1-over-par 37 on the front nine and 2-under-par 34 on the back nine for a 1-under-par 71 total. The 16-year-old, who hopes to continue golf in college, said that his ability to hit the fairways and to get up and down on the greens he missed, helped position him above the other competitors after two rounds.
“I putted well both days,” Green said. “It saved me on a couple of holes today.”
In addition, Green said that he has been reading the greens well, stating that he has good speed overall and hopes to continue the same patterns for the final round on Friday.
Goodspeed, on the other hand, credited the 3-under-par 69 to driving the ball deep and hitting it close to the flagstick, especially on the par-3 holes.
“I was driving it long and straight,” said Goodspeed. “What really helped out was having birdies on three of the four par-3s and putting consistently. I had 25 putts in the first round and 26 today.”
In the Boys Division, Cory Whitsett of Houston, Texas, charged up the rankings for a third place tie with Phillip Weaver of Tuscaloosa, Ala., after carding the low round of the day at 5-under-par 67 for a two-day score of 141. Weaver also recorded a two-day total of 141 after recording a 2-under-par 70 in the second round. Rounding out the leader boys was Jeff Campbell of Conway, Ark., who stands in fifth place after shooting a 1-over-par 73 and two-day score of 142.
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.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which enters 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, Candie Kung, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer.
Final-round tee times will run from 7 a.m. — 12:51 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Fairway Oaks Country Club on Friday. For more information on the Dodge/Bob Estes Abilene Junior, please call AJGA tournament headquarters at (325) 698-4971, ext. 218, or visit ajga.org.