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Wethersfield Country Club
Wethersfield, Conn. • August 8 - 11

Kobayashi holds steady at 3-under-par 68; moves into lead after two rounds

WETHERSFIELD, Conn. —  Natalie Sheary of West Hartford, Conn., fired a 3-under-par 68 in the second round of the Greater Hartford Jaycees Junior presented by St. Paul Travelers to take over the top spot in the Girls Division with a two-day 75-68—143. Maki Kobayashi of Newington, Conn., fired his second round of 68 to take the lead in the Boys Division at 6-under-par 136.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Greater Hartford Jaycees Junior presented by St. Paul Travelers is being held at Wethersfield Country Club. Ninety-nine junior golfers from 14 states, including 28 from Connecticut, are competing in the 54-hole stroke play event.

Disappointed by her first-round play, Sheary said she spent four hours on the range and more time on a course near her home practicing last night.

“Yesterday, I struggled. I was hitting everything right,” she said. “I switched my swing around a little; I made a lot of putts today.”

Sheary said she does not like to make changes to her swing in the middle of a tournament, but was happy with the results. A seven-shot improvement over her first-round score was helped by five birdies on Nos. 7, 8, 13, 14 and 16.

“I hit fairways and greens today and had a lot of putts drop. Yesterday, there were no easy pars. I had a really bad start,” she said. “I'm glad I finished the way I did.”

Heading into the final round, Sheary holds a one-stroke advantage over the first-round leader, Isabelle Lendl of Bradenton, Fla., who posted a two-day 144. Michelle Grilli of Lutherville, Md., finished in third with a 9-over-par 151.

A leader change in the Boys Division also occurred as Kobayashi said his game off the tee helped him throughout the round.

“I was hitting the ball great. The greens are absolutely beautiful. I got pretty lucky; I was on the right side of every pin,” he said. “I had 27 putts today and was definitely putting well.”

Kobayashi had five birdies in the round, but said he had the most trouble on the par-3 holes where he used long irons and fought the wind. His only two bogeys of the day were on the par-3 Nos. 9 and 17. With 18 holes left to play, he said capitalizing on a strong short game will decide the eventual winner.

“It's that 5-foot putt that will win the tournament,” he said. “If you can keep the mental momentum going really well, you can take your risks.”

Tied for second with 2-under-par 140s and paired with Kobayashi in the final round, are David Lipsky of La Canada, Calif., and Tom Lo of Los Angeles. Morgan Hoffmann of Wyckoff, N.J., and Brad Valois of Warwick, R.I., are tied for fourth at 142.

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.

Final-round tee times for the Greater Hartford Jaycees Junior presented by St. Paul Travelers will begin at 7 a.m. off the No. 1 tee. The Boys Division will tee off first from 7 - 9:42 a.m. followed by the Girls Division from 9:51 — 10:54 a.m. The leader boys will continue from 11:03 to 11:39 a.m.

For more information on the Greater Hartford Jaycees Junior presented by St. Paul Travelers, call tournament headquarters at (860) 529-3326.