MAIN, LENDL LEAD THUNDERBIRD INTERNATIONAL JUNIOR
Main sets pace in Boys Division at 5-under-par 67
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. â€” Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., and Marika Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., each carded sub-par rounds Saturday on Grayhawk Golf Club's Raptor Course to claim the first-round lead at the ninth annual Thunderbird International Junior. Main, at 5-under-par 67, and Lendl, at 1-under-par 71, each lead their respective divisions by one heading into the second round Sunday.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Thunderbird International Junior features 78 players from 17 states and 11 foreign countries. The field consists of 48 boys and 30 girls, ages 12-18, and includes 45 Rolex Junior All-Americans. Played on Grayhawk Golf Club, home of the PGA TOUR's Fry's.com Open, the par-72 course measures 7,112 yards for the boys and 6,275 yards for the girls.
Several past participants of the Thunderbird International Junior have gone to play in the FBR Open, the PGA TOUR event sponsored by The Thunderbirds each year. Ryan Moore, Anthony Kim, Hunter Mahan and Kevin Na all competed in the FBR Open, which is currently in its 73rd year. The FBR Open recently raised more than $7 million for charity in just one year.
Despite three bogeys on his round, Main, a two-time Rolex Junior All-American, countered with six birdies and an eagle.
His eagle came on the 502-yard, par-5 seventh hole. After hitting the green in two, Main sunk an uphill, right-to-left breaking putt from 30 feet.
What kept him going, he said, was a string of birdies on Nos. 10-12 after a disappointing bogey on the ninth.
â€śThat really got my momentum back,â€ť the UCLA commit explained. â€śAt that point, I knew I was doing well and tried not to look at the leaderboards, but I ended up looking at them all day.â€ť
Main is playing in his second Thunderbird International Junior. He finished in the 20th position in 2007 after posting a 71-72-78-221 tournament total. By winning the 2007 PING Invitational, however, he does have experience at the top of AJGA Invitational leaderboards.
â€śYou just have to play your game and not worry about the other guys,â€ť Main said.
He will be joined in the lead group Sunday by William Kropp of Edmond, Okla, and Josh Jones of The Colony, Texas, who posted 4-under-par 68s. Chan Kim of Chandler, Ariz., is alone in fourth at 3-under-par 69. Seven others are tied for fifth after recording rounds of 2-under-par 70.
In the Girls Division, Lendl, who started on No. 10, had two bogeys and three birdies during her opening nine and made the turn at 1-under-par 35. She remained consistent on the front with two more bogeys and birdies to close out her round at 1-under-par 71.
â€śIt was an up-and-down round,â€ť Lendl said. â€śI was a little nervous at first and made a couple bogeys, but I got lucky on No. 12 and chipped in (for birdie) when I was completely short-sided â€” it was going off the green â€” but that put me in gear and I played solid from there.â€ť
Lendl, a three-time Rolex Junior All-American and University of Central Florida commitment, is playing in her third Thunderbird International Junior. Last year, she opened with an even-par 72 before finishing the event in 15th with a 72-75-76-223 total.
â€śI practiced for eight hours a day for a while,â€ť Lendl said of regaining her All-America form of 2004, 2005 and 2006. â€śEverything in my life stopped and I just started focusing on golf, and it's really paying off now. Hopefully I can keep it going.â€ť
Sitting one stroke back from Lendl is Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif., and Stacey Kim of Columbus, Ga., at even-par 72.
Second-round tee times will begin off the first and 10th tees at 7:15 a.m. The leader group of boys will tee off No. 10 at 9:03 a.m. while girls' leaders begin at 9:03 a.m. off No. 1.
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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 foreign countries.
As in the past, Callaway Golf will lend its support to the event. Other major sponsors are the Thunderbirds, the Phil and Amy Mickelson Charitable Fund, Grayhawk Golf Club and the FBR Open.
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.
For more information about the Thunderbird International Junior, please contact tournament headquarters at (480) 502-3181.