TEAMMATES KEARNEY, EPSTEIN LEAD CLUBCORP MISSION HILLS DESERT JUNIOR
Dubreuil, Lee both at even par to lead Girls at Mission Hills Country Club
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — La Costa Canyon High School teammates Steven Kearney and Jordan Epstein, both of Carlsbad, Calif., took the first-round lead at the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior at Mission Hills Country Club shooting 3-under-par 69s. The Girls Division also ended the first round in a tie with Desiree Dubreuil of Santa Ana, Calif., and Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., both carding even-par 72s.
The ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior is a 54-hole stroke play tournament conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Mission Hills Country Club — Dinah Shore Tournament Course. The tournament field consists of 57 boys and 21 girls, ages 12-18, from five states, including 70 from California. The Girls Division is playing the par-72 course at 6,141 yards while the Boys Division is playing at 7,049 yards.
Kearney and Epstein both scattered five birdies and two bogeys throughout the day.
Kearney credited his solid play to good ball-striking and solid iron shots on the par-3s.
“My strategy was to hit the greens, and when the pins were tucked, aim down the middle,” Kearney said. “It will stay the same tomorrow and I need to try and make more putts.”
Epstein's five birdies were aided by his exceptional putting game.
“My putts caught fire after the turn today,” Epstein said. “I just need to ride the putter momentum into tomorrow.”
Michael Jae Woo Im of Fullerton, Calif., shot a 2-under-par 70 to put him in third after the first round. Austin Green of Frisco, Texas, Alex Shi Yup Kim of Fullerton, Calif., and Alexander Forss of Temecula, Calif., all sit tied for fourth with 1-under-par 71s.
In the Girls Division, Dubreuil's play was sparked on the back nine as she birdied Nos. 15, 16, and 17.
“It was kind of a sporadic start for me today after I three-putted four holes on the front,” Dubreuil said. “I started a birdie streak on the back nine, and that definitely helped.”
Lee's day was highlighted by three birdies, including a chip-in on No. 11.
“I was about 15 feet out, and my chip shot hit the flagstick and bounced in,” Lee said. “It was a lucky shot, but it was very exciting to make birdie with it.”
Veronica Valerio of Temecula, Calif., and Rachel Morris of Carlsbad, Calif., both sit tied for third in the Girls Division with 1-over-par 73s.
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 49 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 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.
Second-round tee times for the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior will run from 6:30 — 8:18 a.m. Wednesday off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Mission Hills Country Club. For more information on the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (678) 571-7994.