ABRAMS LEADS THE GANG IN PRESEASON JUNIOR AT OCALA
Odaiyar Paces Girls Division on Familiar Course at Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club
OCALA, Fla. — Harley Abrams of Boca Raton, Fla., cruised to a 5-shot lead at the Preseason Junior at Ocala Hosted By Ocala-Marion County Sports Commission with a 4-under-par 68. Kristine Odaiyar of Ocala, Fla., shot 2-over-par 74 at her home course, Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club, to take the lead in the Girls Division by one stroke.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, The Preseason Junior at Ocala hosted By Ocala-Marion County Sports Commission is a 36-hole stroke play event being held at Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club. The 94-player field features players from 13 states, and five foreign countries. The Boys Division is playing Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club at 6,979 yards, while the Girls Division is playing at 5,842 yards.
The Preseason Junior at Ocala is one of eight events held as part of the Golf Academy of America Preseason Junior Series. The Golf Academy of America Preseason Junior Series is a series designed specifically for first-time AJGA members or those members who have not yet been accepted to or participated in an AJGA event in the current calendar year and/or the previous calendar year.
After Abrams went 2-under-par on the front nine, he used a streak of three birdies on the back nine to separate himself from the field. He dropped a 25-foot putt for birdie on No. 11 that also got him going for the next two holes. On No. 12 he knocked a 4-iron from 185 yards to within a foot and followed that up by sticking a wedge from 85 yards also within a foot on No. 13. He made both birdie putts.
“It would be amazing,” Abrams said, when asked about what it would mean to finish on top in his first AJGA event. “It's exactly what I came here to do. It would be the best possible feeling.”
Byoung Jun Chung of Rosario, Argentina, and Chandler Vilcheck of Bluffton, S.C., share second place in the Boys Division after shooting 1-over-par 73. Jeffrey Pearce and John Jonas, both of Jacksonville, Fla., Jeffrey Meltzer of Bradenton, Fla., Will Davenport of Palm City, Fla., and Simon Proverbs of Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., are knotted in fourth place at 3-over-par 75.
It was a family affair for Odaiyar—with her parents in attendance, her shot of the day was a long drive on No. 10 that landed near her brother, Bryan, and his group who were playing in front of her. She went on to birdie the hole.
“It is an advantage, because you know parts of the course that other people don't know about,” Kristine Odaiyar said of playing on her home course. “Tomorrow I want to have fun and hit good shots. I haven't been playing as well as I would like here lately so there is definitely room for improvement.”
Kristin Swindell of Brandenton, Fla., shot a 3-over-par 75 and sits in second place in the Girls Division. Shannon Pak of Kenner, La., is in third place after carding a 5-over-par 77.
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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 provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 30 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
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AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 400 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.
The final round of the Preseason Junior at Ocala hosted By Ocala-Marion County Sports Commission begins Sunday at Golden Hills Golf & Turf Club with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. For more information about the Preseason Junior at Ocala hosted By Ocala-Marion County Sports Commission, call Tournament Headquarters at (352) 629-7981 — ask for the Saratoga Room.