MAIN CLAIMS FIRST-ROUND LEAD AT THE PING INVITATIONAL
Lua leads Girls Division by one stroke heading into second round at Karsten Creek Golf Club
Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., and Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif., claimed first-round leads at The PING Invitational at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, The PING Invitational is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The 78-player field features players from 18 states and Canada. The Girls Division is playing Karsten Creek Golf Club at 6,220 yards, while the Boys Division is being played at 7,285 yards. Gregor Main of Danville, Calif., and Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif., claimed first-round leads at The PING Invitational at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
The 17-year-old Main, who won the AJGA's TomatoBank Northern California Classic this summer and is ranked 46th in the Polo Golf Rankings, leads by one stroke over Cory Whitsett of Houston.
“I hit my irons really well today,” Main said. “I only missed three greens. I left myself below the hole a lot and gave myself opportunities at birdies.”
Main took advantage of his birdie chances, tallying six birdies against only two bogeys, as he fired a 4-under-par 68. A 40-foot birdie putt on his fourth hole sparked his round.
“I was on the front edge of the green,” Main said. “It was uphill, with a soft break to the right. That putt gave me the confidence. It was probably the turning point of my round.”
Main closed strong, making a difficult up and down for par at 17 and birdie at 18.
“On 17, I hit a high flop shot that ended up five feet from the hole and made the putt,” Main said. “On 18, I hit a hybrid to 30 feet, almost made my eagle putt, then tapped in for birdie. It felt good to finish with a birdie.”
Trailing Main by one is Whitsett, the U.S. Junior Amateur champion, who closed with three birdies to fire a 3-under-par 69. Alex Kang of Oak Park, Calif., reached 5-under at one point, but closed with three bogeys to drop into third place at 2-under-par 70.
David Chung of Fayetteville, N.C., carded a 1-under-par 71 to sit alone in fourth place, while three players are tied for fifth at even-par, including Josh Jones of The Colony, Texas, William Kropp of Edmond, Okla., and Austin Cody of North Charleston, S.C.
Lua, 16, ranked 15th in the Polo Golf Rankings, was the only girl to shoot under-par, making four birdies and three bogeys on the day.
Lua got off to a quick start, converting a pair of 10-foot birdie putts on two of her first three holes.
“I just hit them really solid,” Lua said. “They were both left-to-right sliders.”
After a pair of three-putt bogeys, Lua closed her front nine with a birdie on No. 18 (Lua started on the 10th hole).
“I was able to make a six-footer for birdie on my ninth hole,” Lua said. “So that gave me momentum heading into the back.”
Lua then made a clutch par save on her 14th hole (No. 5).
“I plugged my ball in the greenside bunker and flubbed it out. But I made a 25-footer for par.”
A birdie on the final hole provided the one-stroke cushion that she now enjoys heading into round two.
“It was a little inconsistent today, so tomorrow I'll try to even it out,” she said. “But you're going to make mistakes on this course, so you just have to be patient.”
Trailing by one stroke is 12-year-old Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., at even-par 72. Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., and Jennifer Johnson of La Quinta, Calif., are tied for third at 1-over-par 73.
This week's tournament title partner, PING, designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. The family-owned company was founded in 1959 by the late Karsten Solheim. Solheim is the only person to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a golf club manufacturer. Today, the Phoenix-based company is under the direction of Solheim's youngest son, John A. Solheim. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.pinggolf.com.
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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 25 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, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.
Second-round tee times will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Karsten Creek Golf Club. For more information on The PING Invitational, please contact tournament headquarters at (405) 533-1460.