Gonzalez, Bateman Share Boys' Lead at Puerto Rico Junior Open
Puerto Rico's Garcia tied with Sealy, Maymon atop girls' leaderboard
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico — Eloy Gonzalez of Laredo, Texas, and Wilson Bateman of Spruce Grove, Alberta, each fired a 4-under-par 68 Saturday to claim the boys' first-round lead at the Puerto Rico Junior Open, while Patricia Garcia of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Monifa Sealy of Trinidad & Tobago, and Giovana Maymon of Huixquilucan, Mexico, share the girls' lead at 1-over-par 73.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Trump International Golf Club — Championship Course, the Puerto Rico Junior Open is a 54-hole stroke play competition. The field features 78 juniors from 16 countries and 15 U.S. states, as well as 10 players from Puerto Rico. The par-72 Championship Course plays to 7,198 yards for the boys and 6,087 yards for the girls.
Gonzalez drew the day's first tee time and set the bar for the boys' field by posting a 4-under-par 68. After making bogey on his first hole, he rallied with five birdies throughout the remainder of his round.
“It's a big accomplishment for me,” Gonzalez said of sharing the first-round lead. “I'll get a lot of confidence from this. I'll stay with my routine tomorrow and be aggressive when I can be.”
Bateman matched Gonzalez's score after firing a bogey-free round with four birdies.
Trailing by one stroke is James Yoon of Paraguay at 3-under-par 69. Tied for fourth place at 1-under-par 71 are George Cunningham of Litchfield Park, Ariz., Byoung Jun Chung of Rosario, Argentina, Harrison Winger of Orlando, Fla., and Ryan Jahn of Jupiter, Fla.
Puerto Rico's Garcia shares the lead among the girls at 1-over-par 73, thanks to three birdies in her opening round.
“It's an honor to be leading a tournament in my home,” she said. “It's an incredible opportunity for Puerto Rico to have the AJGA here.”
Garcia's first birdie of the day came at the 165-yard, par-3 eighth hole, where she nearly made a hole-in-one and left herself with a three-foot putt.
Maymon shares the lead after making three birdies in a row on Nos. 13, 14 and 15.
“I wasn't playing too great on the front nine, but I just calmed down a little, started thinking positive and hitting more greens,” Maymon said.
Sealy also made three birdies, but said she lost opportunities for more by missing some short putts. With a pair of late birdies on 15 and 16, she received a shot of confidence for the second round.
Garcia, Maymon and Sealy lead by one shot over Kailey Walsh of Boca Raton, Fla., and Nicole Quinn of Windermere, Fla., who are tied for fourth at 2-over-par 74.
Following Saturday's first round, players were treated to a clinic by Chi Chi Rodriguez, one of golf's most beloved players, and a Puerto Rico native.
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 provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
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. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
Second-round tee times run from 8 — 9:48 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Trump International Golf Club — Championship Course. For more information regarding the Puerto Rico Junior Open, contact the Tournament Headquarters at (678) 617-2424.