LIU, VALDER, NEGRI CLAIM BOYS DIVISION MEDALIST HONORS AT HANMI BANK JUNIOR OPEN QUALIFIER
Liu and Villarreal Earn Medalist Honors in Girls Division
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Seiji Liu of Bradenton, Fla., Preston Valder of Yorba Linda, Calif., and Matthew Negri of El Cajon, Calif., all carded an even-par 72 in the Hanmi Bank Junior Open Qualifier Sunday to earn medalist honors in the Boys Division. Marika Liu of Bradenton, and Monica Villarreal of Yorba Linda, both posted a 4-over-par 76 to claim the top spots in the Girls Division at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club - Valley Course.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Qualifier was held at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club's Valley Course. The tournament field consisted of 80 boys and 20 girls, ages 12-18, from 9 states, New Zealand and Taiwan. Eighty-six hailed from the home state of California. The Boys Division played the par-72 layout at 6,831 yards, while the Girls Division played at 6,040 yards.
Seiji Liu recorded one eagle and four birdies on the day. His highlight came on the par-4 tenth hole when he made a 155-foot shot for eagle.
“It was into the wind and I was able to hole out for the eagle,” Liu said. “I just kind of played it safe all day and that hole kept me going.”
Valder, who felt confident coming into the round, was able to card three birdies on the day including one on the par-4 fifth hole.
“I was able to make a 15-foot putt for birdie that helped me reach even-par,” Valder said. “I like the course a lot and I think it sets up well for me.”
Negri, who opted to take one tournament exemption in lieu of this week's event, shot a 2-under-par 35 on the front nine and birdied Nos. 5 and 13.
“I hit lots of greens and fairways today and didn't lose any balls,” Negri said.
Qualifying for the Hanmi Bank Junior Open were Marco Fortades of Glendale, Calif., Raymond Gillip II of Las Vegas, Jeff Wibawa of Encino, Calif., Brian Alle of Pacific Palisades, Calif., Gregory Petchakan of Encino, Calif., Preston Walker of Oak Park, Calif., Lawrence Ree of Redondo Beach, Calif., Todd Baek of Auckland, New Zealand, and Jacob Gralitzer of Agoura Hills, Calif.
Also qualifying but opting to take a tournament exemption were Jordan Cuthbert of Camarillo, Calif., Joseph Ovalle of Brea, Calif., Alex Bungert of Orange, Calif., and Richard Sunghee Jeong of Arcadia, Calif.
In the Girls Division, Marika Liu was able to card two consecutive birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 to share medalist honors with her brother.
“I set par for my standard today and if I birdied, then it was a bonus,” Liu said. “I played not to be greedy and if something went well it was even better.”
Villarreal's highlight came on the par-3 No. 14 when she was able to save par with a 20-foot putt.
“I thought I was going to three putt because the ball was way above the hole and I was excited to save par,” Villarreal said. “I'm playing in the tournament because it's my last season to play and I'm trying to get as much golf in as possible.”
T.J. Kliebphipat of Panorama City, Calif., qualified but chose to take the tournament exemption.
Also qualifying in the Girls Division was Tarah Taylor of Mission Viejo, Calif.
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 49 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 AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
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 Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
Tee times for first-round of the Hanmi Bank Junior Open will run from 7 a.m. — 12:20 p.m. Tuesday off the No. 1 tee at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club - Valley Course. For more information please call Tournament Director Tommy Tangtiphaiboontana at (678) 617-2424.