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Abilene Country Club
Abilene, Texas • July 18 - 21

Hwang ties career-low to lead Girls Division by three strokes

ABILENE, Texas — Ryan Myers, 17, of Flint, Texas, made four birdies and an eagle on his way to a 4-under-par 68 in Abilene Tuesday, leaving him three shots clear of the field. Stephanie Hwang, 16, of Heath, Texas, leads the Girls Division by three after firing a 1-under-par 71, the only score of par or better in the Girls Division.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the 25th edition of the Abilene Reporter-News/Lawrence Hall Abilene Junior is held at Fairway Oaks Country Club. The 54-hole event will showcase 120 of the nation's premier golfers, ages 12-18. Seven states will be represented at this week's event, including 102 Texans. Past champions of the event include PGA veterans Phil Mickelson and Scott Verplank.

Myers only managed to hit six of 14 fairways during his round, but made up strokes on the field by navigating the greens in 26 putts.

“Whenever I missed a green I was able to make saves,” Myers said.

Myers got his round going after a wayward drive on the par-5 ninth hole left him with a three-wood for his second shot. Playing from the rough, Myers knocked it to six-feet, setting up an eagle and putting him at 4-under on the day.

“Hopefully tomorrow I can put it in the fairway more often and make it easier on myself,” Myers said.

Matt Smith of Austin, Texas, sits in second after a 1-under-par 71. Smith was tied for the lead before a triple-bogey eight on his final hole. Tied for third with scores of even-par 72 are Blaine Butner of Wewoka, Okla., and Eddie Grothaus IV of Abilene.

Hwang's putting was also excellent early on, as she need only 12 putts to complete her front-nine score with a score of 1-under-par 35.

“I made a lot of surprising putts,” Hwang said.

This is just Hwang's second AJGA event, and after tying her career-low with a 71 she said she plans on improving as the week goes on.

“Hopefully I'll go out tomorrow and play even better,” Hwang said.

Tracy Stanford of Midland, Texas, is alone in second after a 2-over 74, which featured birdies on two of Fairway Oaks' difficult par-3 holes. Megan O'Connell of Odessa, Texas, rounds out the top-three in the Girls Division after a 3-over 75.

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 Abilene Reporter-News/Lawrence Hall Abilene Junior will begin at 7:00 a.m., Wednesday off Fairways Oaks Country Club's No. 1 tee. For more information about the Abilene Reporter-News/Lawrence Hall Abilene Junior call tournament headquarters at (325) 698-4971 ext. 218.