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The Bridges Golf Club
San Ramon, Calif. • September 1 - 4

Kaneko takes charge at The Bridges Golf Club

SAN RAMON, Calif. — Tyler Morris of Encinitas, Calif., sits in the leader spot at the TEE UP Junior Challenge after carding a 2-under-par 70. Ayaka Kaneko of Honolulu, Hawaii, shot a 3-under-par 69 to lead the Girls Division by four strokes.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the TEE UP Junior Challenge is being played at The Bridges Golf Club. The course is playing at 6,571 yards for the Boys Division and 5,846 yards for the Girls Division. The 54-hole stroke-play event features 72 boys and 27 girls, ages 12-18, from 11 states and two countries, including 77 players from California.

After a string of pars on his first five holes, which began on No. 10, Morris shined on his back nine, posting three birdies for a 3-under-par 33.

“I was able to putt pretty well today,” he said. “The greens were fast, but I one-putted holes one through eight.”

Morris was aware of the challenges he faced at The Bridges Golf Club and said he avoided several of the hazards that he felt were an issue for other players.

“I was glad to play early since the wind wasn't as much of an issue,” he said.

Philip Chian, of Covina, Calif., and Hyun Seok Lim of Fullerton, Calif., both shot matching even-par 72s to sit in second place. In a three-way tie for third, Shunsuke Sonoda of Tokyo, Japan, Rak Cho of Torrance, Calif., and Kurtis Kuida of Redondo Beach, Calif., all shot 1-over-par 73.

In the Girls Division, Kaneko played consistent golf throughout her round to earn a 2-under-par 34 on the front and 1-under-par 35 on the back nine. Although she said the greens were fast, it was putting speed and accuracy that were on her side.

“I hit the shots really well today,” she said. “I like the greens because it makes me focus.”

Kaneko's bogey-free round put her under-par Saturday, and the 16-year-old said she would like to stay below par for the next two rounds to come. Kaneko said she has to keep her steady mindset to shoot three sub-par rounds, which she has done in the past.

“I just try to make par and if I hit a good shot, [I try to] make birdie,” she said.

Becca Huffer of Denver, Colo., is in second place, after carding a 1-over-par 73. Tied for third with 2-over-par 74s are Lee Lopez of Whittier, Calif., and Jane Rah of Torrance, Calif.

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 an annual membership (boys and girls) of more than 5,000 juniors from 49 states and more than 25 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 is in its third decade of AJGA 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 Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel.

The second round of the TEE UP Junior Challenge will begin Sunday, September 3 with tee times starting at 7 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information on the TEE UP Junior Challenge, contact tournament headquarters at (925) 735-4253 ext. 116,