SAAL, STADLER SHARE MINDMATTERS LEAD AT 7-UNDER-PAR
Thead charges to Girls Division lead with second-round 70
BLAIRSVILLE, Pa. — Scott Saal of Virginia Beach, Va., and Doug Stadler of Wexford, Pa., sit atop the Boys Division and are tied at 7-under-par 137 after two rounds of the MindMatters Junior Championship. Sarah Thead of Poway, Calif., owns the only sub-par 36-hole total and leads the Girls Division by four strokes at 1-under-par 143.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the MindMatters Junior Championship features 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 12 — 18, from 21 states and Canada, including 40 of Pennsylvania's own. The Chestnut Ridge Golf Resort & Conference Center — Tom's Run is hosting the 54-hole stroke play event for the first time.
Saal is working with momentum in his corner after winning last week's Virginia State Junior, shooting 68-69—137 to secure a share of the lead. As the only player to shoot back-to-back rounds in the 60s, Saal hopes to complete the two-week sweep with another victory.
“I have some momentum, so if I make an early bogey, I have the confidence to know I can make a lot of birdies,” Saal said. “I only have two bogies this week, and that's the biggest thing for me.”
Co-leader Stadler is harnessing momentum he generated at a tournament last week as well, using his third-place finish at the Memorial Junior Championship presented by Wendy's and Discover Card to propel his play. With 17 greens in regulation, Stadler captured a share of the lead with rounds of 70-67—137.
“I'm very pleased with the way I'm hitting my irons,” Stadler said. “Tomorrow I need to make all my putts inside 10 feet, and I hope I don't have to work for my pars.”
The Boys Division remains crowded at the top, with 19 players under par and five players lurking within two strokes. Brian Belden of Emmaus, Pa., Conrad Shindler of Coppell, Texas, and Jonathan Bowers of Upper Arlington, Ohio, are tied for third with 36-hole totals of 6-under-par 138, while Ryan Smith of Ardmore, Okla., and Srixon Qualifier medalist Kyle Stough of Laurel, Md., are tied for sixth at 5-under-par 139.
In the Girls Division, Thead hit 12 of 14 fairways and used six birdies to card the day's only sub-par round and take command. With 29 putts and birdies on two of the par 3s, the 2007 graduate attributed her success to her putter.
“The playing conditions were great, and I hit some good putts,” Thead said. “Tomorrow I just need to not worry about everyone else, and hit the ball well through the entire round.”
Danielle Frasier of Encinitas, Calif., fired an even-par 72 and sits in second place at 75-72—147, four shots behind the leader. Kristina Wong of Vestal, N.Y., recorded a second straight round of 74 for a 148 total and sits in third entering the final round. A quartet of players sits in a tie for fourth at 149, including first-round leader Henna Cho of Buena Park, Calif., Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ontario, Kristen Schelling of Mesa, Ariz., and Margaret Pentrack of Pittsburgh, Pa.
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 50 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 enters its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
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 280 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Dottie Pepper, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
Final-round tee-times will run from 7:30 a.m. — 12:18 p.m. at the Chestnut Ridge Golf Resort & Conference Center — Tom's Run. For more information on the MindMatters Junior Championship, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (724) 459-7188.