GRIFFIN TAKES CHARGE ON HOME COURSE, SHOOTING 2-UNDER-PAR 69 TO LEAD BY ONE
McCloskey closes first-round one shot deficit to lead by two after second round of action
SAN ANTONIO — Will Griffin, one of San Antonio's own, improved his score by four strokes following the second round at the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout, firing a 2-under-par 69 and two-day 142, to lead by one. Leading the Girls Division is Lisa McCloskey of Montgomery, Texas, who is also currently ranked No. 24 in the Girls Division AJGA Rankings. McCloskey shot even-par on 13 of 18 holes Wednesday, carding a 5-over-par 76 and two-day score of 150.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout is being held at Oak Hills Country Club. The par-71 course was set up at 6,693 yards for the Boys Division and 5,900 yards for the Girls Division. The tournament field consists of 90 boys and 30 girls, ages 12-18, from 10 states, and includes 94 Texas residents.
Griffin, who recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play with Texas Tech this fall, took a giant leap in the field to move from a shared seventh place to first place heading into the final round. For Griffin, the par-5s have been a disappointment, specifically because he typically scores birdies on those holes, and has yet to score any after two rounds of play. Making up for those chances, and the main difference between the first and second round, said Griffin, was his putting.
“Yesterday I hit the ball better, but today I was making all my putts,” said Griffin. “Even though I only hit four fairways, I really felt good with the putter.”
As for the final round of play, Griffin admits to feeling advantageous, as Oak Hills Country Club is his home course. He knows he has had more opportunities to recognize that hole No. 11 is a tough tee shot, and that on hole Nos. 10 and 15 he should be making birdie.
“I think knowing where you can't hit it and knowing where you can hit it makes a big difference on this course,” said Griffin. “There are just some places you don't want to be out there. Hopefully if the ball goes where I want it to, I'll shoot a good number tomorrow.”
Also leading in the Boys Division, Mark Johnson of Tulsa, Okal., stands in second place after making six birdies and hitting 13 greens en route to a 68, the low round of the day, and a two-day score of 143. Tied for third with two-day 145s are Stephen Carney of Tulsa, and Michael Whitehead of Sugar Land, Texas. Rounding out the top five is Travis Woolf of Fort Worth, Texas, who carded 72 and 75, respectively, for a total score of 147.
McCloskey made one bogey on the back nine to score 37 and a round-total 76, to seal the lead heading into the final round. An up-and-coming sophomore, McCloskey's most significant accolade of the 2006 season was placing fourth out of 77 participants in the 2006 Rolex Girls Junior Championship. McCloskey, who has yet to finish first in an AJGA tournament this year, hopes to finish on top, but her main goal is to build her status so she can make it to the PING Junior Solheim Cup next year.
“A win would be great,” said McCloskey. “It would be awesome mainly because I could gain a lot of points because of it. I need the points to increase my chances of earning a spot on the Solheim Cup team.”
As for the tournament at hand, McCloskey says that she isn't playing up to her potential, but is looking forward to the final round in hopes of shooting her lowest score of the week.
“The greens are just so small and I was in the bunkers a lot today,” said McCloskey. “If I keep it out of the bunkers and don't spray it, I'll be fine tomorrow. As long as I play my game and don't worry about the other participants, things will go well.”
At the top of the leaderboard in the Girls Division are Kelsey Kirkpatrick of Golden, Texas, who shot 79 and 73 for a two-day score of 152, only two shots off the leader pace. Standing in third place from Austin, Texas, is Daphne Vines, who shot 39 on the front nine and 41 after the turn for a 76 and two-day 154.
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, Candie Kung, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer.
Final-round tee times will run from 7 a.m. — 12:51 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Oak Hills Country Club on Thursday, July 13. For more information on the Valero Texas Open Junior Shootout, please call AJGA tournament headquarters at (210) 349-5151.