GRILLO, SPIETH SHARE FIRST-ROUND LEAD AT POLO GOLF JUNIOR CLASSIC
Johnson, Kim lead Girls Division at Ginn Reunion Resort
REUNION, Fla. — Emiliano Grillo of Resistencia, Argentina, and Jordan Spieth of Dallas, claimed a share of the lead Monday when they each shot an 8-under-par 64 in the first round of action at the Polo Golf Junior Classic. A two-way tie in the Girls Division left Jennifer Johnson of La Quinta, Calif., and Stephanie Kim of Orlando, Fla., tied for the lead, each with a 3-under-par 69.
The Polo Golf Junior Classic, which has been conducted annually since 1978, marks the first tournament of the American Junior Golf Association's 2009 season. The 156-player invitation-only field is made up of boys and girls, ages 12-18, from 25 states and 12 foreign countries. Former champions include Stewart Cink (1989), Trevor Immelman (1995), Tiger Woods (1991), Paula Creamer (2002), Grace Park (1994, 1996) and Morgan Pressel (2004).
Grillo's bogey-free round contained six birdies and was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 No. 15. A picture of consistency, the 16-year-old hit every green and is using his recent experience in a match play event to stimulate his play at the Polo Golf Junior Classic.
“My game was pretty good in the match play championship event I was playing in before this so I'm glad it's stayed that way,” Grillo said. “I've been hitting the ball well and I hope to do that again tomorrow.”
Spieth came out of the day carding a total of nine birdies, bogeying only the par-4 No. 12 in his quest for the lead. He shined on the front nine, never going above par and recording birdies on five holes. He quickly recovered from his bogey by recording a par, then back-to-back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14-16.
“You only have these days every once in a while,” Spieth said. “Days when everything is working and putts are falling is something exciting. I was getting more lucky breaks than unlucky ones.”
Lucky breaks seem to be coming often for Spieth, who was named champion of The PING Invitational at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., at the AJGA's last event in October. In his last two rounds of AJGA play, he has recorded 15 birdies.
In a tie for third are Cory Whitsett of Houston, and Evan Beck of Virginia Beach, Va., each having recorded a 7-under-par 65. Rounding out the top five are Phillip Choi of Orlando, Fla., and Patrick Winther of Rungsted Kyst, Denmark, each carding a 5-under-par 67.
In the Girls Division, Johnson started her day strong, carding birdies on the first two holes. One more birdie on the front nine left her 3-under-par at the turn. After trading bogey for birdie once on the back nine, the 17-year-old finished the round with four strong pars to take a 3-under-par 69 into the clubhouse.
“My course management was good today,” said the recent champion of the California State Women's Amateur, which plays the same format as the Polo Golf Junior Classic. “I was hitting some close approach shots and giving myself birdie opportunities.”
Kim began her day much like Johnson, carding two birdies early in her round. She saved her third and final birdie for the par-5 No. 14, never going above par throughout the round. With only 26 putts, the 17-year-old's putting proved to be the strongest element of her game.
“I just tried to play one hole at a time today. I seemed to be getting up and down from everywhere,” Kim said. “During stroke play, I'm just trying to learn the course, so I will play the same way tomorrow and try to stay smart.”
In a tie for third in the Girls Division, each having carded a 2-under-par 70, are Lauren Weaver of Scottsdale, Ariz., Jane Rah of Torrance, Calif., and Victoria Kiser of Orlando, Fla.
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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 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.
Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation (NYSE: RL) is a leader in the design, marketing and distribution of premium lifestyle products in four categories: apparel, home, accessories and fragrances. For more than 40 years, Polo's reputation and distinctive image have been consistently developed across an expanding number of products, brands and international markets. The Company's brand names, which include “Polo by Ralph Lauren”, “Ralph Lauren Purple Label”, “Ralph Lauren Collection”, “Black Label”, “Blue Label”, “Lauren by Ralph Lauren”, “Polo Jeans Co.”, “RRL”, “RLX”, “Rugby”, “Ralph Lauren Childrenswear”, “American Living”, “Chaps”, and “Club Monaco” among others, constitute one of the world's most widely recognized families of consumer brands. For more information, go to http://investor.ralphlauren.com.
Second-round play will continue Tuesday, Nov. 25 with tee times running from 7:30-9:18 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees of the Legacy (Palmer) and Independence (Watson) Courses at Ginn Reunion Resort. For more information about the Polo Golf Junior Classic, please contact Tournament Director Andrew Greenfield at (770) 601-8922.