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Bellefonte Country Club
Ashland, Kentucky
June 22-25, 2004

Veteran Hong and Newcomer Sylvan lead Girls Division


ASHLAND, Ky. – Nathan Kinker of Barboursville, W. Va., knew he was defying normal logic by continually hitting his driver on the short, yet challenging Bellefonte Country Club course, but after carding a first-round 65 to sit atop the leaderboard, the odd man out is now the man to beat.  In the Girls Division, Jennifer Hong of Windermere, Fla., and Katie Sylvan of San Diego, Calif., both carded first-round even-par 70s to take the lead heading into round two.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior features 120 players, 93 boys and 27 girls ages 12-18 from 22 states and Canada.  The 54-hole stroke play event is being held at the Bellefonte Country Club for the 21st consecutive year.

Kinker got out the driver early and used it to his advantage on Wednesday, carding an eagle on the 465-yard par-5 first hole.  His success with the driver continued all day as Kinker finished his round bogey-free.        “The further you hit the ball, the shorter you have to the green," said the 17-year-old Kinker. "I got in trouble with my irons yesterday during my practice round, so hitting the driver seemed like a pretty good strategy.  I’ll stick with it as long as it keeps serving me.”

Unlike Kinker, Teddy Collins of Prospect, Ky., only hit his driver once all day, but after firing a first-round 66, he sits in second place only one shot behind the leader.  The Stanford signee relied heavily on his 3-wood and irons to manage the hilly course.

“I shaped my 3-wood well today and got around the doglegs,” said Collins.  “I was able to hit it high enough to get the ball perpendicular with the slopes and keep it in the fairway.”

Kentucky natives Joseph Barr of Versailles and Michael Haverfield of Louisville are tied for third place after carding 1-under-par 69s.  Daniel Woltman of Beaver Dam, Wis., rounds out the short list of players at par or better after day one he carded an even-par 70s.

After winning last week’s AJGA Windy City Junior and taking home medalist honors in Monday’s qualifier, the 17-year-old Hong kept up the momentum by making four birdies on the day.

“If you’re confident on the tee, it doesn’t matter how many trees are out there,” said Hong.  “You just have to go out there and play your game and be confident in your ability.” 

Tied with Hong at even-par 70 is the 13-year-old Sylvan.  The 2009 high school graduate carded five birdies on the day, and hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

“I just tried to use course management and play smart,” said Sylvan.  “I didn’t hit a lot of woods, and I was hitting my irons really well all day.”

Kentucky native Mallory Blackwelder of Versailles sits one stroke back in third place after finishing her day with a 1-over-par 71.

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 has a membership of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 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, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.

Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior second-round tee times begin Thursday morning at 7 a.m.

For more information on the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior, contact the AJGA tournament headquarters at (606) 324-2107.