HP BOYS JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
Arnold Palmerâ€™s Bay Hill Club and Lodge
July 26-30, 2004
SAUNDERS CLINGS TO ONE-SHOT LEAD AT BAY HILL
Five players deadlocked in a tie for second place
ORLANDO, Fla. â€“ As a barrage of players took their shots at the top of the leaderboard, Samuel Saunders of Windermere, Fla., was able to hold on to a one-shot advantage heading into the third round of the HP Boys Junior Championship. Five players trail Saunders by one shot with tournament totals of 1-under-par 143.
The HP Boys Junior Championship, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, features 82 boys, ages 12-18, from 24 states, Chile, China and Japan. The 72-hole stroke play event is being held at Arnold Palmerâ€™s Bay Hill Club and Lodge, site of the PGA TOURâ€™s annual Bay Hill Invitational. Past champions include Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and David Duval. Highlighting the 2004 field are 14 Rolex Junior All-Americans and 13 2004 AJGA tournament champions. The field was cut to the top 50 players and ties following the second round.
Although Saunders carded an even-par 72 to stay in sole possession of first place, he still felt there was room for improvement.
â€śToday I just hung in there,â€ť Saunders said. â€śI had a lot of opportunities on the front (Saundersâ€™ second nine), but didnâ€™t take advantage of them.â€ť
Going into the third round, Saunders said he knows he has a slight advantage since Bay Hill is his home course. However, he said he feels that the other players are becoming familiar with the course quickly.
â€śObviously, itâ€™s an advantage to a point,â€ť Saunders said. â€śI know where to hit it, but these guys are good enough that after playing here a couple times, they know (Bay Hill) as well as I do.â€ť
Leading the charge toward the top of the leaderboard was Michael Green of Augusta, Ga., whose 4-under-par 68 tied the low round of the day with Ben Leong of Orlando.
â€śI tried to hit as many fairways and greens as I could and I kept plugging away and made some birdies in the process,â€ť Green said.
Rory Hie of Lakewood, Calif., who shot a 3-under-par 69, said that his round could have been even better had a few more putts fallen. Hie said he is looking forward to the rest of the week and having the opportunity to make a run at the championship.
â€śI just need to do what I did today,â€ť Hie said. â€śI donâ€™t have any expectations, I just need to go work on my putting,â€ť Hie said, laughing.
Three players fired rounds of 2-under-par 70 Wednesday to join the five-way tie for second. One of these players, Robert Gates Jr. of Gainesville, Fla., took advantage of a break on the 11th hole to gain momentum.
â€śI pulled my second shot a little and thought it went in the water,â€ť Gates said. â€śBut the ball stopped three feet short of the water and I chipped it in for birdie.â€ť
Santiago Russi of Santiago, Chile, also made a charge on the back nine, making birdies on Nos. 11, 13, and 17 en route to a 2-under-par 70. Russi said he is confident that he can continue his solid play and have a chance at winning his first AJGA title.
â€śItâ€™s a good feeling to be at the top of the leaderboard,â€ť Russi said. â€śI feel pretty comfortable about this course. If I play well tomorrow, I think I can win the tournament.â€ť
Rounding out the second-place logjam is Daniel Woltman of Beaver Dam, Wis., who also captured three birdies on the back nine.
â€śI made a great sand save on the last hole,â€ť Woltman said. â€śIt feels pretty good to be at the top and hopefully I can play well and finish it out.â€ť
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 has a membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGAâ€™s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Associationâ€™s success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
Third-round tee times will begin Thursday at 7 a.m. and conclude at 8:48 a.m. off of the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information about the HP Boys Junior Championship, please contact tournament headquarters at (407) 876-8095 or visit ajga.org.