CUNNINGHAM, HONG SHARE LEAD AT RANDY WISE JUNIOR OPEN
Armstrong and Campbell lead by two strokes at Flint Elks Lodge 222 Golf Club
GRAND BLANC, Mich. — Chris Cunningham, 17, of Milford, Mich., and Michael Hong, 16, of Fullerton, Calif., were able to finish with a 3-under-par 69 Wednesday to stand atop the Boys Division. In the Girls Division, Ashley Armstrong, 16, of Flossmoor, Ill., and Talia Campbell, 15, of Dallas, sit atop the leaderboard after shooting 2-under-par 70 at the Randy Wise Junior Open.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Randy Wise Junior Open is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Flint Elks Lodge 222 Golf Club. The tournament field consists of 75 Boys and 23 Girls, ages 12-18, from 17 states and Canada. The par-72 course is being played at 6,932 yards for the Boys Division and 6,115 yards for the Girls Division.
Cunningham focused on using his irons to his advantage, enabling him to hit 14 greens. One of Cunningham's brightest moments of the day came on No. 12, a 208 yard par-3 hole. After hooking his 4-iron, Cunningham made a chip shot that appeared to be rolling off the green. Instead, it hit the flagstick, allowing him to luckily save par. Cunningham was able to make par or better on 15 holes, including six birdies on Nos. 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, and 15.
“On the par-5 No. 11, I hit the green in two shots,” Cunningham said. “Then I almost made the best putt of my life from 80 feet to almost make an eagle.”
Hong felt like he struggled on the back nine, but was able to save par on seven holes thanks in part to having only 25 putts on the day. Hong finished his back nine with a 2-under-par 34, including a birdie on No. 11 and on his final hole, No. 18. Hong also added birdies on Nos. 2, 4, 6 and 7.
“On No. 18 I drew my driver into the left rough,” Hong said. “I hit my 9-iron to about one foot and I was able to tap in for birdie.”
One shot behind the leaders, in a tie for third at 2-under-par 70, is Tyler Kato of Seattle, Jason Zhou of Skillman, N.J., and Joey Garber of Petoskey, Mich.
In the Girls Division, Campbell was able to cash in on her numerous putts inside 20 feet to make the most of birdie opportunities. Campbell made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 in addition to Nos. 9 and 15. Hitting 16 greens allowed Campbell to make par or better on 16 of the holes. Going in to the second round tied for the lead, Campbell just wants to focus on making pars and a birdie once in a while.
“There were definitely more good highlights than bad for me today,” Campbell said. “I was really consistent with hitting my fairways and greens. I focused on having only two putts and I ended up with only 30 putts for the day. That is really good for me.”
Armstrong didn't start her front nine as strong as she felt possible, shooting a 1-over-par 37. Once Armstrong made the turn, her game made a different kind of turn. Relying on her strong putting, Armstrong started hitting the ball harder off the tee, and from there everything started going in the right direction. After making bogey on No. 12, Armstrong quickly made a birdie on the par-4 336 yard No. 13 to get back in the game. Armstrong went on to make back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to go along with her final birdie on No. 18.
“On 18 I was stuck behind a tree after my tee shot,” Armstrong said. “I hit a high fade and it rolled to the back of the green. I was focusing on the speed of the ball. It started to slow down right before the hole then it hi a ball mark and fell in.”
Going into the second round, Christine Meier of Rochester Hills, Mich., holds down third place at even-par 72.
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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and more than 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 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 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 350 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 Randy Wise Junior Open will run from 7 a.m.-12:20 p.m. off the No. 1 tee Thursday, August 6 at Flint Elks Lodge 222 Golf Club. For more information about the Randy Wise Junior Open, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (810) 743-9440.