LONG HOLDS STRONG ATOP LEADERBOARD AFTER FIRING FIRST-ROUND 66
Thead leads in Girls Division by two strokes
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Jace Long of Dixon, Mo., shot a 6-under-par 66 Tuesday to take the first-round lead in the Boys Division of the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship. Julia Thead of Poway, Calif., carded a 2-under-par 70 to take the early lead in the Girls Division.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Rivercut Golf Course. The 99-player field features players from 18 states. The par-72 course is being played at 6,927 yards in the Boys Division and 6,011 yards for the Girls Division.
Long, fresh off competing in sectional qualifying Monday for the U.S. Amateur in Pine Bluff, Ark., got off to a strong start by carding birdies on his first two holes.
“I got out there and hit the ball really well,” Long said. “Everything was just working out here for me today.”
Long, winner of three AJGA events in his career, including the Houchens Industries Junior Open in June, credits working hard when not playing in tournaments to his success this summer.
“It's all practice for me,” Long said. “This summer is the hardest I've practiced since I have been playing. The practice is what I need to keep playing like I have been.”
Tied for second place in the Boys Division are Chris Brant of Edwardsville, Ill., Nick Langley of St. Louis, and Bryan Boaz of Tulsa, Okla., who all carded 3-under-par 69s. Colton Staggs of Tulsa, Okla., and Andy Hogenmiller of Washington, Mo., are tied for fifth with 1-under-par 71s.
In the Girls Division, Thead leads after shooting 33-37 on the front and back nines, respectively. She finished her round with three birdies and a bogey.
“I just played pretty solid today, I hit a lot of greens,” Thead said. “I putted really well and normally putting is my weak point so that was great.”
Thead, who has placed in the top ten in each of the four AJGA open events she has competed in this summer, says she just needs to focus on her game one day at a time.
“I try to play my best and not focus on a certain score for myself,” Thead said. “I'm just going to get out there and play my game the rest of the week.”
Behind Thead in second place is Kristen Schelling of Mesa, Ariz., who carded an even-par 72. Crystal Reeves of Broken Arrow, Okla., sits in third after shooting a 2-over-par 74.
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.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
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, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.
Second-round tee times for the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship begin at 7 a.m. off the No. 1 tee Wednesday. For more information on the Bass Pro Shops/Payne Stewart Junior Championship, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (678) 617-2424.