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Hampton Hall Club
Bluffton, S.C. • July 24 - 27

Ernst remains in lead following second round at Hampton Hall Club

BLUFFON, S.C. — Dean Hester of Dublin, Ga., fired a 5-under-par 67 to grab the lead at the Heritage Junior Championship. Austin Ernst of Seneca, S.C., maintained her grasp on the top spot after shooting an even-par 72 in the second round Thursday.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Heritage Junior Championship is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Hampton Hall Club. The 84-player field features juniors from 15 states. The course is being played at 7,180 yards in the Boys Division and 6,090 yards in the Girls Division.

Hester, 16, began his day well with birdies on his first two holes and finished the day with a total of six. Two of those birdies were tap-ins after Hester hit a gap wedge to within two feet on Nos. 8 and 18. However, Hester said the hole that made his round was No. 12, where he got up and down to save par.

“Coming off those two birdies I really didn't want to give a shot back,” Hester said. “Luckily I hit a 60 degree wedge to about eight feet and made the putt.”

Hester said today he played away from trouble and plans to do the same thing tomorrow. He heads into the final round with a tournament total of 8-under-par 136.

“I am going to try and not make bogies or go back to the field. I want to make everyone else make birdies to catch me,” Hester continued.

Austin Cody of North Charleston, S.C., is in second place, one shot back, after a 6-under-par 66. Jacob Burger of Orangeburg, S.C., is in third with a total of 6-under-par 138. Matt Campbell of Rome, N.Y., shot 2-under par Thursday and enters the final round in fourth. Tied for fifth at 4-under-par 140 are Logan Harrell of Huntersville, N.C., and Mark McMillen, Jr. of Smithfield, N.C.

Ernst, already with two AJGA victories this summer, said she struck the ball well Thursday but couldn't get it as close as she did in the first round. However, on No. 8 she was able to stick it two feet from the hole from 129 yards. She also made birdies on Nos. 6 and 12 to put her at 1-under-par 143 for the tournament.

“Tomorrow I am going to try and hit it as well as I have been,” Ernst said. “I would like to go under par tomorrow because I know I can.”

The final group in the Girls Division Friday will be a partial repeat of Rome, Ga., with Katie Burnett of Brunswick, Ga., sitting in second with a two-day total of even-par 144. Alei Mitchell of Waycross, Ga., Rebecca Durham of St. Simons Island, Ga., and Courtney Gunter of Matthews, N.C., are tied in third place heading into the final round at 1-over-par 145.

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 junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of more than 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 25 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, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.

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, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.

Final-round tee times will start at 7:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees. For more information about the Heritage Junior Championship, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (843) 706-5670.