ITTERMAN, SMITH SIT TIED IN LEADER SPOT WITH MATCHING 1-UNDER-PAR 143s
Kim leads Girls Division by three strokes with a 144 tournament total
DIABLO GRANDE, Calif. — Ben Itterman of Carlsbad, Calif., and Sam Smith of Turlock, Calif., are tied for the lead after the second round, carding 1-under-par 143 tournament totals. Joy Kim of Pinole, Calif., shot the only sub-par round Wednesday and took the Girls Division lead after she posted a 2-under-par 69 and two-day tournament total of 144.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande is being played at the Diablo Grande — Ranch Course. Sixty-eight boys and 22 girls, ages 12 — 15, are competing on the par-72 layout (par 71 for girls). Thirteen states and three countries are represented this week, including players from South Korea and China, with most juniors from California.
The Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande is part of the Nike Golf Junior All-Star Series. The Series is a collection of 10 events specifically designed for boys and girls ages 12 - 15 years old. The Series concludes with an invitation-only Nike Golf Junior Championship, Sept. 1 - 3, 2006.
Itterman fired a 3-under-par 69 for the day and leads the Boys Division by one stroke going into the final round. The rising freshman felt he made several improvements from the first round, besting his score by five strokes.
“I made a lot more putts and hit a lot of good iron shots,” he said. “I gave myself a lot of chances for birdie.”
Fourteen-year-old Itterman hit 14 greens for the round and made five birdies in the process. Unlike many other players, Itterman is a fan of the hot weather and prefers desert courses. However, he keeps the same goal at each tournament he plays.
“I try to shoot three days of consistent scores,” he said. “I kind of like challenging courses because I think I focus better, and I don't make very many mistakes because I play a lot safer.”
After playing in four other AJGA tournaments and finishing top-10 and top-20, Smith's goal for the Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande was to finish in the top-5. As a local player, the rising sophomore was prepared for the tournament because he is familiar with the course.
“I play this course all the time and I know it,” he said. “You've got to keep it in the fairway and that's helped me the most.”
Smith had a consistent round, chipping well and countering his two bogeys with three birdies. Having played other tournaments on the Diablo Grande — Ranch Course, Smith said it would be nice to leave his mark on the course.
“Winning an AJGA (event) is big and it would make me more confident going into (future) tournaments,” he said.
In the Boys Division, Anton Arboleda of La Canada, Calif., Boris Stantchev of Long Beach, Calif., and Brendan Doyle of Beverly Hills, Calif., all sit in third place with 144 tournament totals.
Kim drained four birdies en route to shooting a 3-under-par 32 on the back nine. She made consecutive birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 and again on Nos. 17 and 18.
“I feel confident with my swing, and I'm taking this confidence into tomorrow,” Kim said.
Kim said nerves could be a factor during her round tomorrow, but the 15-year-old thinks that nervousness is something that can be controlled.
“There are a lot of good players out here, and I don't want to compare myself to them,” Kim said. “I'm just trying to shoot my own score tomorrow.”
First-round co-leader Angela Villela of Pacoima, Calif., is in second place after shooting a 3-over-par 74 for a two-day total of 147. Ahnna Kim of Irvine, Calif., sits in third with a 150 tournament total.
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.
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, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung and Paula Creamer.
The final round of the Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande begins at 7 a.m. Thursday at Diablo Grande — Ranch Course. For more information on the Nike Golf Junior at Diablo Grande, contact tournament headquarters at (209) 892-4136.