CHIEN OVERTAKES THE LEAD AT THE NIKE GOLF JUNIOR AT REDHAWK
Patterson distances herself from Girls Division with six-stroke lead in Temecula
TEMECULA, Calif.- Local talent Sam Chien of San Diego, grabbed the lead on Wednesday, firing a 73 at the Nike Golf Junior at Redhawk. Chien now holds a one-stroke lead with a tournament total of 2-under-par 142. In the Girls Division, Tuesday's co-leader Ariana Patterson of Carmel, Calif., shot even-par for the second consecutive day for a two-day total of 144. Her consistent play puts her six-strokes ahead of the field.
The Nike Golf Junior at Redhawk, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, features 64 boys and 18 girls — ages 12-15 — from 10 states and three foreign countries. The event is being staged on the par-72, 6,673-yard Redhawk Golf Course (Girls Division played at 5,732 yards).
Chien followed up his first-round score of 69 with a 1-over-par 73 on Wednesday to grab the lead. After beginning the day 1-under through the first three holes, he made bogies on Nos. 5 and 6. After dropping to 1-over, he struggled on the 412-yard, par-4 No. 10, missing a short par putt, falling to 2-over. He then slid to 3-over before he was able to turn it around on No. 14, sinking a long birdie putt. After making three consecutive pars, he finished with a birdie on No. 18 to finish the round 1-over.
Windy conditions reeked havoc on the field Wednesday, allowing Chien's round of 1-over to climb to the top of the leader board. Playing less then 30 minutes from home, Chien wasn't sure how he would measure up in his second AJGA event.
“I didn't expect to be where I am,” he said. “But I did expect to play well,” the 15-year-old said.
Chien heads into the final round clinging to a one-stroke lead over a surging Dong Su of Richmond, B.C., who has a tournament total of 143. Hoping to emerge from third place is Andrew Yun of Tacoma, Wash., two shots back of Chien. In fourth place at 145 is Alex Kim of Fullerton, Calif. Rounding out the top-5 in the Boys Division is James Back of La Habra, Calif with a two-day total of 146.
Chien knows the Boys Division is up for grabs heading in the final round.
“It's going to be tough,” Chien said. “But I'm not nervous. I'm anxious, but not nervous.”
Coming into the second round of play, Patterson shared the lead at even-par. Shooting another 72 Wednesday was more than enough to give her sole possession of the lead. Her round began on the 383-yard, par-4 No. 10, where she fell to 1-over after making a bogey on her first hole. Rebounding quickly on No. 11, Patterson sank a birdie putt, moving back to even. After four holes in a row scoring par, she made a birdie on No. 16, moving to 1-under where she would finish her first nine.
Patterson's final nine holes included two early bogies, but she headed to her 18th hole 1-over on the day. She ended with a bang chipping in from the left side off the green to move back to even on the day and the tournament.
The 14-year-old enjoys a comfortable six-stroke lead entering the final round of play. Despite having a lead, she will be nervous hearing her name announced as the leader during Thursday's final round.
“I'm going to try and not think about the outcome tomorrow and take it one shot at a time,” Patterson said. “But I still think I am going to be nervous.”
With a tournament total of 150, both Rebecca Song of Fullerton, Calif., and Stephanie Hu of Cerritos, Calif., hope to make a charge and challenge for the title on Thursday.
Patterson has no intention of letting Song or Hu catch her however.
“I'm going for it tomorrow,” she said. “I'm going to try my hardest and not let up.”
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 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
Final-round tee times will begin Thursday at 7:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Redhawk Golf Course.
For more information about the Nike Junior Golf at Redhawk, contact tournament headquarters at (951) 302-3855 ext. 25.