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Grayhawk Golf Club - Raptor Course
Scottsdale, Ariz. • May 27 - 30

Harigae and Murcia take the lead in the Girls Division

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., lit up the Raptor Course to the tune of a 6-under-par 66 in the first round of the Thunderbird International Junior Saturday. In the Girls Division, Mina Harigae of Monterey, Calif., and Juliana Murcia of Bogota, Colombia, sit atop the leaderboard after posting 3-under-par 69s.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the sixth annual Thunderbird International Junior is being held on the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club. The tournament field is comprised of 84 boys and girls ages 12-18 from 16 states and 12 foreign countries.

The Thunderbird International Junior annually attracts the top junior golfers in the world with 50 Rolex Junior All-Americans present this year. Past champions of the event include Virada Nirapathpongporn, Ryan Moore, Casey Wittenberg, Brittany Lang and Rob Grube. Last year's Girls Division champion Belen Mozo of Cadiz, Spain, returns in 2005 to defend her title.

Lovemark carded eight birdies en route to his 6-under-par 66, including a string of three straight birdies on Nos. 4-6. After starting on No. 10, he made the turn at 3-under-par 33 with four birdies, including a 30-foot birdie putt on No. 17.

“It can't get any better than that,” said the 17-year-old first-team Rolex Junior All-American. “My plan is to keep it in the fairway and get it on the green. I feel like I can make it from anywhere if I can do that. The key was my putting and keeping it in the fairway. I only missed one fairway and that led to a bogey.”

Lovemark is no stranger to success in big tournaments as he claimed the title at the Rolex Tournament of Champions and the Western Junior Amateur in back-to-back weeks last summer.

Tied for second at 5-under-par 67 are Matthew Swan of Montgomery, Ala., and Roberto Galletti, Jr. of Clayton, Calif. Luis Garcia Del Moral of Castellon, Spain; Tim McKenney of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Paul Haley of Dallas; and Bronson Burgoon of The Woodlands, Texas, are tied for fourth after rounds of 68.

In the Girls Division, Harigae and Murcia, who were playing partners, matched each other's scores to the tune of 3-under-par 69s.

Harigae, a two-time Rolex Junior All-American, had a bogey-free round while carding three birdies on the day.

Murcia, playing in her first AJGA event, finished the day with four birdies, including back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10-11.

“Everything went right today except on No. 18 when I had to take an unplayable for my only bogey,” said the 17-year-old. “The best part of my game today was my iron play and tomorrow I need to work on my putting. It is great coming here. It's good to know that not only can you compete in your own country, but that you can compete with the best juniors in the world.”

One stroke back of the lead at 70 are Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla.; Angela Park of Torrance, Calif.; and Azahara Munoz of San Pedro de Alcantara, Spain.

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 a junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.

AJGA alumni have risen to the top amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Charles Howell III, Jim Furyk, Vicki Goetze-Ackerman, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.

Second-round tee times will run from 7-8:57 a.m., off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees on the Raptor Course. For more information about the Thunderbird International Junior, please contact tournament headquarters at (480) 502-1800.