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

Hong and Blackwelder share Girls Division lead



ASHLAND, Ky. – Nathan Kinker of Barboursville, W. Va., and Teddy Collins of Prospect, Ky. each carded a two-round total of 136 for the lead of the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior at the Bellefonte Country Club. In the Girls Division, Jennifer Hong of Windermere, Fla., and Mallory Blackwelder of Versailles, Ky., finished with matching 4-over-par 144s to top the leaderboard going into the final round.

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, who used consistency to his benefit on Thursday, made par on nearly every hole.  The Kentucky native carded only one birdie and one bogey on the day.

“I have been hitting the driver off every tee and bombing them right down the middle.  I need to enter the final round with the goal of playing consistent golf like I have been the last two days,” Kinker said. “I am confident that if I just play my game in the next round I will come out on top.”

Collins, whose highlight in Thursday’s round was a chip in for eagle on No. 11, hopes that a win tomorrow will take him one step closer to his year-end goal of qualifying for AJGA’s Canon Cup.

“I plan to go out tomorrow with a focus on my putting.  I have to be sure that they are going uphill so that I can be aggressive with each one,” the 18-year-old Collins said.  “The greens are faster so putting is becoming increasingly important.”

Fellow Kentucky native Michael Haverfield of Louisville, is sitting three strokes behind the leaders entering the final round after carding a solid 69-70—139.

Blackwelder of Versailles, Ky., who finished round two at 71-73—174, played last year’s tournament with a dislocated shoulder she suffered in a car wreck.  She finally feels that her game is back after the injury.

“I hit really the ball well on the front but I’m disappointed in my performance on the back,” Blackwelder said.  “I just have to focus on coming in tomorrow and playing my own game.  I can’t get caught up in what the other girls are shooting.”

Sharing the leaderboard with Blackwelder is Florida native Jennifer Hong of Windermere.  She was disappointed in her round, but heads into Friday with a 70-74—144.  Hong says that she needs to reevaluate her game before the final round.

“I worried too much today about individual holes and so I made some mental mistakes,” stated Hong.  “I need go out there tomorrow with the same mindset on every hole and just have fun.”

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.

The Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior final-round tee times begin Friday morning at 7 a.m.  For more information on the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior, contact the AJGA tournament headquarters at (606) 324-2107.