MEXICO-NATIVE HERNANDEZ GRABS THREE-SHOT LEAD AT MAYAKOBA JUNIOR GOLF CLASSIC
Malagon, Jin share Girls Division lead at even par
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Quintana Roo, Mexico — Juan Pablo Hernandez of Mexico City, fired a second-round 4-under-par 66 to take a three-shot lead at 4-under-par 136 entering Monday's final round at the Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic. Alicia Malagon of Tampico, Mexico, and Pearl Jin of San Gabriel, Calif., are tied atop the Girls Division leaderboard and share a six-shot lead at even-par 142.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic is the AJGA's first Open event in Mexico. The field consists of 76 players, 19 of whom are from Mexico, as well as from 16 U.S. states and Canada. The 54-hole stroke play event is being held at El Camaleón Golf Club, which is being played at 6,911 yards, par 70 for the Boys Division and 6,047 yards, par 71 for the Girls Division. El Camaleón Golf Club is home to the PGA TOUR's Mayakoba Golf Classic, the first-ever TOUR event in Mexico.
Hernandez credited his short game as the key to his low round. Highlighted by a 70-foot birdie putt on No. 12, Hernandez carded five birdies on the day, including three on his final four holes.
“I'm hitting the ball pretty well and I'm not missing my short par putts,” Hernandez said. “This is different because it's the first AJGA Open in Mexico, and I'm really proud about leading.”
Hernandez has posted three top-10 finishes during the 2007 season, including a second-place finish at the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout and a fifth-place finish at the Lessing's AJGA Classic.
“I've been really close this summer, so it has to happen sometime,” said Hernandez, who is looking for his first AJGA victory.
First-round leader Eric Frazzetta of Long Beach, Calif., and Diego Castilla of Monterrey, Mexico, are tied for second place with 1-under-par 139s. Colby Smith of Auburn, Calif., sits in fourth place at even-par 140, while Sebastian Szirmak of Toronto, Ontario, is in fifth place at 1-over-par 141.
In the Girls Division, first-round leader Malagon said her lag putting and overall consistency has carried her to the 36-hole lead. Malagon's second-round 72 featured birdies on the par-5 eighth and 13th holes, which gives her a total of four birdies on the week.
“Tomorrow I'm just going to think like it's the first round, like nobody is winning or losing,” Malagon said. “I just want to play well and see the results in the end.”
Jin moved into a share of the lead after carding consecutive rounds of even-par 71. Playing in her first AJGA tournament, Jin said consistency with her approach shots has carried her to the top of the leaderboard.
“I kept the ball in play, and even after a bad hole I knew I could make it up,” said Jin, who turned 12 years old in June.
Stephanie Meadow of Hilton Head Island, S.C., Erynne Lee of Silverdale, Wash., and Lila Barton of Dallas, are tied for third place with 6-over-par 146 totals.
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 more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 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 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. 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, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
Monday's final round will be an 8 a.m. shotgun start at El Camaleón Golf Club. For more information about the Mayakoba Junior Golf Classic, please call tournament headquarters at (678) 425-1775.