FOWLER, KIM CARD 3-UNDER-PAR 69s TO SHARE LEAD AT THE INAUGURAL PING INVITATIONAL
Choe shoots course record 4-under-par 68 at Karsten Creek Golf Club to lead Girls Division by two strokes
STILLWATER, Okla. β Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, Calif., and Sihwan Kim of Buena Park, Calif., fought windy conditions to shoot 3-under-par 69s for a first-place tie in the Boys Division at The PING Invitational Saturday. Esther Choe of Scottsdale, Ariz., fired an opening round 4-under-par 68, a new competitive course record for Karsten Creek Golf Club, to take a two-stroke lead in the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the inaugural PING Invitational is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The 85-player field features players from 21 states, Sweden and Australia. The Girls Division is playing Karsten Creek Golf Club at 6,252 yards, while the Boys Division is playing at 7,221 yards.
Fowler carded a 1-under-par 35 on his first nine and followed with a 2-under-par 34 on his second nine. The 17-year-old high school senior has verbally committed to play for Oklahoma State University for 2007 and knew the key to success on his future home course would be to play well on the greens.
βIt was tough today and the greens were good, but fast,β Fowler said. βYou had to read them well and have the right speed to make it.β
Fowler did just that on No. 11, his second hole of the day. He made a 10-foot putt from the right side of the green and said the putt showed him he could handle the greens for the rest of the round. His goal for Sunday is to manage the course as he did on Saturday, with one exception.
βI need to get rid of the bogeys,β Fowler said. βThen I'm looking good.β
Kim also started the day intent on making sure he got his ball to a good position on the green. The 17-year-old, who has given a verbal commitment to play for Stanford University beginning in the fall of 2007, accomplished his goal and did not have one three putt the entire round.
βI tried to leave the ball short of the pin so I had no downhill putts,β Kim said. βI was able to just tap most of my second putts in.β
Kim also felt his driver was strong today and was pleased with his short game. On No. 13, he chipped in his third shot for birdie. The chip-in gave him a boost of confidence for his final holes and he carded two more birdies to close with a back-nine 3-under-par 33.
Andrew Yun of Tacoma, Wash., and Tadd Fujikawa of Honolulu, Hawaii, shot opening rounds of 2-under-par 70 to tie for third place. William Kropp of Edmond, Okla., carded an even-par 72 to stand alone in fifth place.
In the Girls Division, Choe played consistently throughout her record-breaking round, carding a 1-under-par 35 on the front nine and a 3-under-par 33 on the back side. Like her male counterparts, Choe was determined to play smart and place the ball in the right spot on the greens.
βThis is an amazing course and the conditions were perfect,β Choe said. βI knew I would be all right if I went out and hit the greens.β
The 17-year-old, who has verbally committed to the University of Arizona in the fall of 2007, was also satisfied with her solid iron play. Choe hit 15 greens on the day and was particularly pleased with her second shot on No. 11, which set her up for a good birdie opportunity. Choe drained the putt, which gave her confidence to handle the difficult back nine. For Sunday's second round, Choe is looking to continue her first-round strategy.
βI just want to keep going out, hitting greens and making birdies,β Choe said.
Sydney Burlison of Salinas, Calif., carded a 2-under-par 70 to stand alone in second. Isabelle Lendl and Kristina Wong, both of Bradenton, Fla., shot 1-under-par 71s to tie for third.
This week's tournament title partner, PING, designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. The family-owned company was founded in 1959 by the late Karsten Solheim. Solheim is the only person to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a golf club manufacturer. Today, the Phoenix-based company is under the direction of Solheim's youngest son, John A. Solheim. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.pinggolf.com.
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, the largest Association of its kind, has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 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 support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
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 and Morgan Pressel.
Second-round tee times will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Karsten Creek Golf Club. For more information on The PING Invitational, please contact tournament headquarters at (405) 743-4830.