FUJIKAWA SAYS ALOHA TO MAGNOLIA GROVE; FIRES FIRST-ROUND 67
Defending champion Park gains one-shot advantage in Girls Division
MOBILE, Ala. Competing in just his second AJGA tournament, 14-year-old Tadd Fujikawa of Honolulu, Hawaii, took the Falls Course at Magnolia Grove Golf Club by storm Saturday, firing a 5-under-par 67 to take a four-shot lead heading into the second round at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior. In the Girls Division, defending champion Angela Park of Torrance, Calif., picked up where she left off in 2004, carding a 2-under-par 70 to take a one-shot advantage into Sunday's second round.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior is being played on the Falls and Crossings Courses at Magnolia Grove Golf Club. Eighty-four boys are competing on the Falls Course, while the Crossings Course is playing host to 50 girls. Twenty-five states and two foreign countries (Canada and China) are represented at the event. Originally scheduled for Sept. 2-5, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior was postponed due to Hurricane Katrina.
Fujikawa hit 12 of 14 fairways on the Falls Course Saturday, which served as a catalyst for what turned out to be the low round of the day. The Honolulu native went on a four-hole stretch that included two birdies and an eagle to finish his front nine with a 4-under-par 32.
I was hitting my driver really good, although my irons could have been a little better, Fujikawa said.
Fujikawa's strong play continued on the back nine, where he added three more birdies, bringing his total to six for the round. After finishing in the top-20 at the Hiwan Junior presented by Stonecreek Funding in June, he knows that there is still more work to do.
I just need to stay consistent, Fujikawa explained. I need to not get too high and keep scoring well.
Three players came in tied for second place after the opening round with matching 1-under-par 71s, including Mike Stern of Miami, Brian Kim of Yorba Linda, Calif., and Peter Uihlein of Bradenton, Fla. Jonathan Randolph of Brandon, Miss., Josh Jones of The Colony, Texas, and Philip Francis of Scottsdale, Ariz., are tied for fifth with even-par 72s.
Park, who defeated U.S. Amateur champion Morgan Pressel in a sudden-death playoff at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior in 2004, didn't pick up her first birdie until her sixth hole Saturday. However, the Californian built upon that momentum and ended the day one shot ahead of the pack.
The course seemed to be playing tougher than last year, Park said. The rough seemed a little longer and the wind picked up in the afternoon.
With a solid first round in the books, Park is looking forward to capturing the tournament title for the second consecutive year.
I feel like I have a little bit of a head start because I know the course so well, Park said.
Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif., recorded three consecutive birdies on Nos. 6, 7 and 8 and sits one shot back with a 1-under-par 71. Isabelle Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., is two shots back after carding an even-par 72.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501c(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 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 280 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Dottie Pepper, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
The second round of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday at Magnolia Grove Golf Club with the Boys starting off the No. 1 tee at the Falls Course and the Girls starting off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at the Crossings Course. For more information on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Junior, contact tournament headquarters at (251) 649-6111.