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Sonoma Ranch Golf Course
Las Cruces, N.M. • June 6 - 9

Morris's 4-over-par 76 keeps her ahead of a looming pack

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Louis Amira of Valencia, Calif., shot the lowest round of his career on Wednesday with a 9-under-par 63, leaving him at 11-under-par for the tournament.  The 15-year-old leads the Boys Division by six strokes over Cory Whitsett of Houston, at the Nike Golf Junior at Las Cruces.  Rachel Morris of Carlsbad, Calif., continues to lead the Girls Division after two days of play.  Morris shot a 4-over-par 76 to maintain a one stroke lead over Elisa Aoki of Nagoya-City, Japan.

The Nike Golf Junior at Las Cruces, conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, featured 66 boys and 18 girls — ages 12-15 — from 16 states and three foreign countries. The event is being staged on the par-72, 6,717-yard Sonoma Ranch Golf Course (Girls Division played at 5,858 yards).

Amira's stunning performance on Wednesday distances him from the rest of the field. A birdie on the par-5, 559 yard No. 10 helped Amira jump start his day. He played the round bogey free, including nine birdies.

“This is my lowest round ever,” stated Amira. “It feels good to know that I have the lead, but I will have to play well again tomorrow to keep it up.”

Amira hit 13 out of 14 fairways with the help of his irons, en route to hitting all 18 greens. Whitsett shot a 70 on Wednesday, leaving him in second place at 5-under-par for the tournament. Rounding out the top five in the Boys Division are Shaun O'Meara of Windermere, Fla., with a tournament total of 142, Devin Miertschin of El Paso, Texas, at 143, and Cabe Prieskorn of Texarkana, Texas, at 144.

The youth are leading the way in the Girls Division. 13-year-old Morris shot a 76 today on her way to a 151 two day total. Fellow 13-year-old Aoki closed the gap by shooting a low round 74, bringing her to 152 for the tournament.

“This is the first time I have been leading a tournament,” Morris said. “I am both a little nervous and a little excited about playing tomorrow.”

Morris hopes that she'll be able to lower her number of putts tomorrow in order to maintain her lead. With one round left to play, Morris and Aoki are being trailed by 12-year-old Jenny Shin of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. The top three in the Girls Division will all graduate high school in 2010.

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.

Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which enters its third decade of support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.

AJGA alumni have risen to the top of 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.

Final-round tee times will begin Thursday at 7:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Sonoma Ranch Golf Course.

For more information about the Nike Junior Golf at Las Cruces, contact tournament headquarters at (505) 521-1818.