Sonoma Ranch Golf Course
Las Cruces, N.M. • June 5 - 8

Montoya off to a quick start at her second AJGA tournament

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — With the Nike Golf Junior at Las Cruces under way JJ Brown of Austin, Texas, fired a 3-under-par 69 to lead by one stroke in the Boys Division. In the Girls Division, Mariah Montoya of Lubbock, Texas, shot a 1-under-par 71 to take an early lead.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Nike Golf Junior at Las Cruces is being played at the Sonoma Ranch Golf Course. Seventy-eight boys and girls, ages 12 — 15, are competing on the par-72 layout.

Brown started off strong making two birdies on the front nine Tuesday. The high school junior-to-be went on to card an eagle on the 337-yard, par-4, No. 13.

“I had every expectation of finishing in the top five,” Brown said. “It's a very comfortable feeling.”

Brown said he prepared for the tournament by playing everyday and practicing with his dad, who does double-duty as his coach. Brown was able to achieve his score with a solid performance on the greens, needing only 27 putts for the round.

“It was a low-stress round,” he said. “I couldn't think of a better day to play golf.”

Three players tied for second with 2-under-par 70s including Juan Pablo Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico, Taylor Meadows of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, and Edward Waller of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. In a tie for fifth place, Darren Saqui of Cerritos, Calif., Neil Dufford of Midland, Texas, and Zahkai Brown of Arvada, Colo., shot 1-under-par 71s.

Hayden McClelland of Olney, Texas, had an exciting surprise on No. 8 when he made a hole-in-one on the 164-yard, par-3.

In the Girls Division, 14-year-old Montoya had three birdies to lead by two strokes.

“I just hit the ball well and my putting was on today,” she said. “I'm just going to try to hold onto it, not think about it, and play my game.”

After tying for fourth place at her first tournament, the Nike Golf Junior at South Padre Island, Montoya came to Las Cruces with one goal in mind.

“To play the best I can and be happy with what I shoot,” she said.

Pamela Burneski of Surrey, B.C., is currently in second with a 73 in the Girls Division while Lindsey Weaver of Scottsdale, Ariz., stands in third with a 74. Tied for fourth place with 75s are Doris Chen of Bradenton, Fla., and Sinae Montoya of Lubbock, Texas.

The Nike Golf Junior at Las Cruces is part of the Nike Golf Junior All-Star Series. The Series is a collection of 10 events specifically designed for boys and girls ages 12 - 15 years old. The Series concludes with an invitation-only Nike Golf Junior Championship, Sept. 1 - 3, 2006.

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 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 is in 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, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung and Paula Creamer.

The second round of the Nike Golf Junior at Las Cruces begins at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at Sonoma Ranch Golf Course. For more information on the Nike Golf Junior at Las Cruces, contact tournament headquarters at (505) 521-1818.

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