PRATT LEGENDARY ON SOUTH COURSE, DROPS RECORD 62 AT VANDERBILT
Newell, Martindale share lead in Girls Division heading into final round
FRANKLIN, Tenn. — In a flawless display of golf, Conner Pratt of Birmingham, Ala., fired a course-record 9-under-par 62 Wednesday to take a commanding lead in the AJGA Southeast Junior Open, heading into the final round eight strokes ahead of the field at 10-under-par 132. In the Girls Division, A.J. Newell of Tampa, Fla., and Kendall Martindale of Jefferson City, Tenn., sit tied for the lead with two-day totals of 1-under-par 143, heading into the final round.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Southeast Junior Open is a 54-hole stroke play event held at the Vanderbilt Legends Club — South Course. The tournament field features 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 20 states and China. The Boys Division is playing the par-71 course at 7,059 yards, while the Girls Division is playing the layout at par-72, 6,089 yards.
Beginning his day with three straight pars, Pratt found his rhythm on No. 4, carding a birdie there and another at the seventh. Finishing the front with pars, Pratt cited good drives and an excellent short game as keys to the first half of his day.
“My irons weren't quite there in the beginning,” Pratt said. “But after No. 3 my irons turned on and my putting was unbelievable. I'm not really sure where it came from.”
While his solid front side left him at 2-under going into the turn, it was Pratt's back nine that would truly define his day. Opening with birdies in two of his first three holes, Pratt began to piece together his record round.
An eagle at the par-5, 14th placed Pratt at six-under, but the 2010 graduate wasn't done yet. Birdies on 15, 17 and 18 would leave him with an inward nine of 7-under-par 29, securing Pratt a spot in the record books.
“You never expect that,” Pratt said about his round. “Someone told me when I was younger to never stop wanting birdies. Today my irons were on so I just kept firing at pins.”
The Coastal Carolina commit finished his day with seven birdies, zero bogeys, an eagle and a card that registered only one score more than four. He landed himself in a five-way tie for the second lowest round in the AJGA records, behind only James White's 2007 round of 61.
Motin Yeung of Orlando, Fla., who played with Pratt throughout the first two rounds, currently sits in second at 2-under-par 140, eight shots back. Fletcher Johnson of Belden, Miss., is in third with a two-day total of 1-under-par 141, while Max Van Dresser of Alpharetta, Ga., and Ben Dowling of Southlake, Texas, are tied for fourth at even-par 142.
Also notable for the day was a hole-in-one on the 165-yard, par-3 11th from Michael Johnson of Birmingham, Ala.
In the Girls Division, first-round leader Newell continued her steady play, carding nines of 37-35 to finish at even-par 72.
“My irons have been great these last couple of days,” Newell said. “Today I hit the ball OK, but had a few shots that got me in a little trouble. Luckily I was able to get up and down, thanks to my short game and some solid chips.”
Co-leader Martindale finds herself in the lead group for the second time in as many weeks. While her 1-under-par 71 earned her a share of the lead, it was the 2011 graduate's back nine that stood out on the day. With four birdies, Martindale finished at 3-under-par 34, a feat she attributed to solid shots while on the green.
“My putting is really good right now,” Martindale said. “I've been working a lot on it; right now it's the best thing going for me.”
Briana Mao of Folsom, Calif., rounds out the top three in the Girls Division with a two-day total of even-par 144.
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.
Final-round tee times for the AJGA Southeast Junior Open will run from 7:00 a.m. — 12:20 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Vanderbilt Legends Club. For more information, please contact AJGA Tournament Headquarters at (678) 485-1135.