JUSTIN LEONARD/DELOITTE JUNIOR TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Dallas, Texas • June 27 - 30
BARTON AND BURLISON LEAD BY SEVEN, LOOK TO DEFEND GIRLS TITLE AT NORTHWOOD
DALLAS— Drew Kittleson, 16, of Scottsdale, Ariz and Brett Spencer, 16, of Plano, Texas, proved two is better than one, combining for a team total of 7-under-par 64 in the Tuesday's first round of the Justin Leonard/Deloitte Junior Team Championship. Defending Girls Division champions Lila Barton, 15, of Dallas, and Sydney Burleson, 15, of Salinas, Calif., are leading the Girls Division in a big way after their first-round score of 3-under-par 68.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Justin Leonard/Deloitte Junior Team Championship is being held at Northwood Club in Dallas, the site of the 1952 U.S. Open. The 54-hole event features 72 players from 12 states, including 50 players from Texas.
The players competed in a modified Scotch format, under which each player hits his/her own tee shot, then plays his/her teammate's ball for the second shot. The team then chooses which ball it would like the play out and continues under alternate shot format until the ball is holed.
Kittleson and Spencer are participating in their first team event together, although both competed in the I.R.I. Arizona National Mixed Team Championship hosted by Annika Sorenstam and Jim Furyk earlier in the season. With eagles scored on Nos. 6 and 14 and birdies on Nos. 2, 3, 11, 13 and 17, the two juniors found their way to the top of the leader board in the Boys Division despite two bogeys on the round.
“We've done this before,” Kittleson said. “On the way down here, we said we didn't want to get knocked out in the first round, and we didn't do that.”
Coming in behind Kittleson and Spencer are Jeffrey Edelmen, of Southlake, Texas, and Sang Yi of Carrollton, Texas. The team combined for a total of 5-under-par 66. Tied for third at 4-under-par 67 are Dallas locals Scott Barton and Paul Haley; Mark Jones, of Odessa, Texas, and Brandon Lakatta, of Mansfield, Texas; and the team of Ian Gilley, of Flossmoor, Ill and Conrad Schindler of Coppell, Texas.
In matching flip-flop skirts and yellow shirts, Burlison and Barton carded four birdies on the day, and a 32 on the back nine, giving them a seven shot lead going into Wednesday's second round. The duo said they had confidence coming into the tournament with last year's championship under their belt and are ready for what the tournament might bring.
“We could have played better but we could have played worse,” Burleson said. “We both play well under pressure.”
Four groups in the Girls Division are tied in second place with scores of 4-over-par 75. Kristen Hendrix and Megan O'Donnell, both of Houston; Stephanie Connelly of Pasadena, Md. and Brittany Nelson, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; Ginny Brown, of Austin, Texas, and Tia Gannon of Hilton Head Island, S.C.; and the team of Lindsay Cullen of Allen, Texas, and Lauren Johnson of The Woodlands, Texas.
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, the largest Association of its kind, 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, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, 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, Dottie Pepper, Grace Park, Cristie Kerr and Beth Bauer.
The second round of the Justin Leonard/Deloitte Junior Team Championship will begin at 9 a.m., Wednesday off Northwood Club's No. 1 tee. For more information about the Justin Leonard/Deloitte Junior Team Championship call the Northwood Club at (972) 934-0544.