HOFFMANN SHOOTS BOGEY-FREE 67, LEADS JUNIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
First-round leader Widegren one shot back
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. β With the help of a bogey-free 5-under-par 67 on TPC Sawgrass -THE PLAYERS Stadium Course Saturday, Morgan Hoffmann of Saddlebrook, N.J., vaulted to the top of the tournament leaderboard at the inaugural Junior PLAYERS Championship with a 71-67β138 two-day total. Pontus Widegren of Danderyd, Sweden, the first-round leader with a 4-under-par 68 Friday, stayed in contention by posting a 1-under-par 71 to trail by one stroke and sit alone in second. Tommy Chung Hao Mou of Taipei, Taiwan, who started the day in a tie for 13th, carded a 3-under-par 69 to move into a tie for third at 2-under-par 142 and secure a position in the leader group Sunday.
The PGA TOUR, in cooperation with the American Junior Golf Association, brought 78 players from 19 states and 15 foreign countries to TPC Sawgrass for a special junior golf experience. The Junior PLAYERS Championship, mirrored after THE PLAYERS, is being played on the par-72 THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. The course is setup at 7,215 yards, the same as the PGA TOUR event that brings together the deepest tournament field in professional golf. Tournament participants are furnished with professional caddies, access to the TOUR locker room and tournament gifts that give this event a PGA TOUR-like feel.
Hoffmann's round included birdies on Nos. 2, 5, 8, 15 and 16, all of which were made with putts under 10 feet, save a 35-footer on No. 8, a 237-yard par-3. His lone hiccup came on the par-4 10th when he blocked his approach into a greenside bunker. He escaped with par, however, after a successful sand save ended with a six-foot par putt.
A slight adjustment on the range following Thursday's practice round has been the key to his stellar play thus far, he said.
βI'm finally figuring things out and it feels great,β Hoffmann, an Oklahoma State University commitment, said. βI moved my ball up in my stance and things are really clicking. My game is all feel.β
Ranked No. 5 in the Polo Golf Rankings, Hoffmann first received national attention when he won the Polo Golf Junior Classic, another AJGA Invitational, last November. In the time since, he admitted to being disappointed with his 2007.
βThis feels amazing because during the Thunderbird International Junior and Rolex Tournament of Champions, I was in a two-and-a-half-month slump,β he explained.
After setting the pace for the field in round one, Widegren slipped in his opening nine Saturday and relinquished his lead, posting a 2-over-par 38. He fought back during his closing nine with birdies on Nos. 11, 16 and 18 to post a 68-71β139 total.
βI just wanted to put myself in a good position for tomorrow,β Widegren said. βIt was good to be in the leader group today and get that experience. It's hard to play as the leader, so I'm very happy to be in this position, actually.β
Mou recorded the second-lowest round of the day, a 3-under-par 69, to be the first to post a 142 two-day total. He is tied for third with Peter Uihlein of Bradenton, Fla., Taylor Travis of Fremont, Calif., and Dean O'Riley of Boksburg, South Africa.
Final-round action will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday off the first and 10th tees of THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. The leader group of Hoffmann, Widegren and Mou will tee off No. 1 at 9:48 a.m.
For more information about The Junior PLAYERS Championship, visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org or contact Steve Ethun with AJGA Communications at (678) 571-7994.
About the PGA TOUR
The PGA TOUR is a tax-exempt membership organization of professional golfers. Its primary purpose is to provide competitive earnings opportunities for past, current and future members of the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour; to protect the integrity of the game; and to help grow the reach of the game in the U.S. and around the world.
In 2007, the three Tours will compete in approximately 110 events for approximately $340 million in prize money. Tournaments are being held in six countries outside the U.S. and in 36 states.
In addition to providing competitive opportunities for its membership, TOUR events also generate significant funds for local charities. In fact, the three Tours have surpassed the $1 billion mark in overall charitable contributions. The PGA TOUR's web site address is www.pgatour.com and the company is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.
About the American Junior Golf Association
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 AJGA, the largest Association of its kind, 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 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.