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Valle Alto, A.C. Club de Golf
Monterrey, • May 26 - 28

In AJGA's first Mexico tournament, Whitsett builds 8-shot lead after 6-under par day; Mexico's Martinez leads girls by one stroke

MONTERREY, Mexico — Cory Whitsett of Houston and Paloma Martinez of Moclova, Mexico, took the lead Saturday through two rounds of the Nike Golf Junior Classic hosted by Zona Norte at Valle Alto, A.C. Club de Golf.

The Nike Golf Junior Classic hosted by Zona Norte brings 83 players, ages 12-15, together for the first-ever American Junior Golf Association tournament conducted in Mexico. The field consists of 59 boys and 24 girls from Mexico, the United States and Canada.

The 54-hole tournament began Saturday with two shotgun rounds, leading to tired feet but stellar play.

In the Boys Division, the 14-year-old Whitsett built an eight-shot lead by staying positive after hitting his first shot of the day out of bounds on hole No. 1.

“There are a lot of birdies to be made out here, and I knew that, so I didn't want to get worked up over one mistake,” Whitsett said.

Whitsett, who stands at 6-under-par 138, putted well throughout the day, especially in the second round — even as he was getting tired toward the end of 36 holes. As a result, he followed his 1-under-par 71 in the first round with a 5-under-par 67 in the second round.

“This afternoon, on the last five holes, the legs turned to jelly,” he said. “But I was hitting the ball well, and I made a lot of longer putts than I had made in the morning.”

Whitsett also birdied No. 3 — the toughest hole on the course — in the afternoon, rebounding from the bogey he made there in the morning.

Trailing Whitsett by eight strokes are Cameron Peck of Olympia, Wash., and Shane Lebow of Santa Barbara, Calif., at 2-over-par 146. In fourth place at 147 is Jordan Frye of Colleyville, Texas. Enrique Livas of Monterrey and Max Do of Lakewood, Calif., are tied for fifth at 5-over-par 149.

In the Girls Division, Martinez shot 7-over-par 151 through two rounds to claim a one-stroke lead in her first AJGA event. Even so, Martinez improved by three shots in the second round, shooting scores of 77 and 74.

“I've never played 36 holes in my life,” the 14-year-old said. “I played better in the second round, but I was very tired.”

Martinez won a Zona Norte tournament in Monterrey in March and has played previous tournaments at Valle Alto, so she felt right at home. Martinez also said her lead came from good putting.

“The driver was terrible, but I saved much with the putting.”

Karisa Akin of Elizabethtown, Ky., is one stroke behind at 152, while Diana Rabago of Tampico, Mexico and Maria Jose Benavides of Mexico City are five shots behind at 156.

The Nike Golf Junior All-Star Series is a collection of 10 events specifically designed for boys and girls ages 12 - 15 years old. The competition provides an opportunity for younger members to develop their skills and earn entry into open tournaments. The series concludes with an invitation-only Nike Golf Junior Championship, Sept.1 - 3, 2006 in Aurora, Ore.

The American Junior Golf Association is a 501c(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 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, Jim Furyk, Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel, Grace Park and Cristie Kerr.

The Nike Golf Junior Classic hosted by Zona Norte will conclude Sunday with tee times running from 7:30 — 9:27 a.m. off the first and 10th tees at Valle Alto, A.C. Club de Golf. For more information, please contact the AJGA tournament headquarters at 001-81-55-84-00.