STRAKA FLIES TO FIRST-ROUND LEAD AT WINDSTONE GOLF CLUB
Stackhouse leads Girls Division after shooting 68 at Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic
RINGGOLD, Ga. — Sam Straka, 16, of Valdosta, Ga., took advantage of both his power and finesse to go on a four-hole hot streak that included two eagles. He ultimately signed for a 6-under-par 64 to lead the Boys Division at the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic. Meanwhile, Mariah Stackhouse, 15, of Riverdale, Ga., carded a 2-under-par 68 to take an early lead in the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic is a 54-hole stroke play event held at WindStone Golf Club in Ringgold, Ga. The tournament field consists of 75 boys and 23 girls from 15 states and Venezuela, ages 12-18. The Boys Division is playing the par-70 WindStone Golf Club at 6,469 yards, while the Girls Division is playing at 5,797 yards.
Straka didn't start his day slow; after all, he stood at even-par after a front nine that included seven pars. However, things started heating up when he strode to the tee box and drove the green at the 290-yard par-4 14th. From there, he sank a 15-foot eagle putt and got rolling.
After following his first eagle at No. 14 with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, Straka blasted his drive deep into the fairway of No. 17, a 525-yard par five. After landing his five-iron on the green, Straka sank another eagle putt to secure the day's best round.
“It was really crazy,” Straka said. “I made a bunch of putts, a couple of long ones. I just hit perfect shots on those four holes.”
On Straka's heels in the Boys Division is James Monnerville of Vero Beach, Fla., who carded a 5-under-par 65. Chandler Rusk of Edmond, Okla., Kelby Burton and Cody Shafer, both of Evans, Ga., are tied for third after each carding a 4-under-par 66.
In the Girls Division, Stackhouse made the turn at 2-under-par and maintained that position through the back nine. Afterwards, she noted how playing in the qualifier on Sunday aided her first-round game Tuesday.
“I think it helped a lot because I had the pressure of certain tee boxes that are really tough and I knew I'd played a competitive round on here two days ago, and I hit good drives on them, so I knew I could do it now,” she said. “It made me more confident because I'd had the experience in a competitive round recently.”
Tied for second in the Girls Division are Isabelle Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., and Shannon Aubert of Orlando, Fla., who each carded a round of 1-over-par 71.
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 50 states and more than 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 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA tours and have compiled more than 350 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 Ringgold Telephone Company Junior Classic will run from 7:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at WindStone Golf Club. For more information, please call Tournament Headquarters at (706) 965-2541.