FIVE BOYS TAKE EARLY LEAD AT THE ROLEX TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Ernst and McCloskey establish women's course record at Victoria National Golf Club
NEWBURGH, Ind. — Two-under-par 70 was the theme of the day as Cameron Peck of Olympia, Wash., Chan Kim of Chandler, Ariz., Byeong-hun An of Seoul, South Korea, Leon Knoll of Pretoria, South Africa, and Michael Hebert of Orlando, Fla., all finished atop the leaderboard in a five-way tie for first place in the Boys Division after the first round of play at the Rolex Tournament of Champions Tuesday. In the Girls Division, Lisa McCloskey of Montgomery, Texas and Austin Ernst of Seneca, S.C., sit tied for the lead, also at 2-under-par 70.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Rolex Tournament of Champions is a 72-hole stroke play event being held at Victoria National Golf Club. The 141-player field features players from 26 states and seven foreign countries. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 Victoria National Golf Club at 7,169 yards, while the Girls Division is playing it at 6,375 yards. This year marks the 31st edition of the AJGA's flagship tournament. Past champions of this event include Esther Choe, Philip Francis, Charles Howell III, Jamie Lovemark, Phil Mickelson, Grace Park and Morgan Pressel.
Both An and Knoll traveled a great distance to participate in the Rolex Tournament of Champions, and the event has proven to be worth the journey.
“It's a great course, it's great to be here and real fun to play,” An said.
“Everything [you do] has to be good to win here.”
“The level [of competition] is much higher than we are used to in South Africa,” Knoll said. “It's a tough course and the winner will have to earn it on Friday.”
Luke Guthrie of Quincy, Ill., and Tommy Chung Hao Mou of Bradenton, Fla., sit tied for sixth at 1-under-par 71 and five others are tied for eighth at even-par 72.
Despite the challenge that narrow fairways and high rough posed during the round, McCloskey managed to card six birdies.
“The course is extremely hard, especially the rough on No. 9 and anytime you don't hit the fairway it's a bogey,” McCloskey said. “But, I can't tell you how good I was playing [today]. Every single shot was right by the flagstick.”
Ernst carded five birdies for the day and said momentum from last week helped her on the course.
“I have been playing real well,” Ernst said. “I just came off a [final-round] 66 and win at the AJGA's Burgett H. Mooney, Jr. Rome Classic.”
Rounding out the top of the leaderboard are Stephanie Kim of Orlando, Fla., Allie White of Lancaster, Ohio, and Jennifer Johnson of La Quinta, Calif., all tied for third after posting scores of even-par 72.
Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. Along with sponsoring the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Rolex is also the title partner of the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the proprietors of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams.
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.
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.
The second round of the Rolex Tournament of Champions is Wednesday, July 2 with tee times running off Nos. 1 and 10 tee from 7 — 8:48 a.m. and noon — 1:30 p.m. at Victoria National Golf Club and will be available in real-time through FootJoy Live Scoring. For more information about the Rolex Tournament of Champions, please contact Steve Ethun at 678-571-7994.