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PING PHOENIX JUNIOR
Moon Valley Country Club
Phoenix, Ariz.
August 19-22, 2004
 
FIVE-WAY TIE FOR LEAD SETS STAGE FOR SUNDAY SHOWDOWN
Blumenherst boosts lead in Girls Division


PHOENIX, Ariz. – With five players tied atop the Boys Division leaderboard at 5-under-par 139 heading into Sunday’s final round, the stage is set for a true battle to the end.  Philip Francis of Scottsdale, Ariz., Kyle Nielsen of Lake Havasu City, Calif., Josh Hedge of Billings, Mont., Brian Locke of Los Angeles, and Jake Yount of Danville, Calif., lead the rest of the PING Phoenix Junior field by two shots.  In the Girls Division, Scottsdale, Arizona’s Amanda Blumenherst continued to set the pace with a 1-over-par 73.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the PING Phoenix Junior features 84 players, 63 boys and 21 girls, ages 12-18 from 18 states, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates.  Thirty-three juniors call the host state of Arizona home.  The 54-hole stroke play event is being held at the Moon Valley Country Club for the first time.

Francis’ up-and-down round included seven birdies on his way to a 3-under-par 34-35—69.

“Whenever I made a birdie today, it seemed like I made a bogey right afterwards, or vice versa,” said the 15-year-old Francis.  “I only had 25 putts today, and with seven birdies, it’s hard not to shoot a decent round.”

After firing a 67 on Friday, the first-round leader Nielsen found trouble on the back-nine.

“I played solid on the front-nine, but I made my first bogey of the tournament, a double, on No. 12,” said Nielsen, who had a 33-39—72 on the day.  “I made some good par putts to stay in there, but I just couldn’t get it going after No. 12.”

Hedge was five-shots back after day one, but a stellar 67 moved him from 15th place into a tie for the lead.

“I had five birdies and no bogeys in my round today,” Hedge said.  “I finally started making those three to six foot putts that you need to make.  If you can put the ball into play off the tee, you’ll get a lot of chances from that range.”

Locke and Yount were tied for second place after the first round, and both fired 2-under-par 70s on Saturday.  They now find themselves in a five-way tie for the lead although their low rounds to get there were vastly different. 

“I was 1-over through No. 7, but I hit driver, 3-wood to about 30 feet on No.8 and sank the putt for eagle,” said Locke.  “I didn’t think it was going to drop, but when it kind of died into the hole at the end, it really kick-started my round.”

“I’ve been 3-under and 4-under-par through five holes during both of my rounds,” said the 17-year-old Yount.  “Starting strong really has helped to calm me down because I’m at the number I want to be at for the day.  It’s all about holding it there from that point on.”

In the Girls Division, Rolex Junior All-American Amanda Blumenherst enters the final round with a six-shot advantage after firing a second-round 73 for a 6-under-par tournament total of 138.  According to Blumenherst, her putting let her down during Saturday’s round.

“I made all of the putts that I needed to make on the front-nine, but on the back they just weren’t falling,” said the eight-time AJGA champion Blumenherst.  “I just didn’t putt well today and it was a real detriment to my round.”

Fourteen-year-old Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Ariz., sits six shots back of Blumenherst at 144 after carding a second-round 2-over-par 74.  Jennie Lee of Huntington Beach, Calif., is alone in third place with a 70-75—145.

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 final round of the PING Phoenix Junior will begin Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information about the PING Phoenix Junior, please contact tournament headquarters at (602) 942-0000, ext. 4611.