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Bellefonte Country Club
Ashland, Ky. • June 17 - 20

Thomas, Koller Lead at the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior

ASHLAND, Ky. — Justin Thomas of Goshen, Ky., and Nikki Koller of Lewisburg, Ky., are at it again at the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior. The first-round leaders sit comfortably atop the leaderboard for the second day in a row.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior is being played at the Bellefonte Country Club. The tournament field consists of 118 players, 89 boys and 29 girls from 19 states. The Boys Division is being played at 6,028 yards and the Girls Division at 5,625 yards.

Thomas came into the second round with a four-stroke advantage to his nearest competitor. With course conditions dryer than Wednesday, Thomas ran into some difficulties carding a 2-over-par 72 for the second round.

“The course is definitely drying out,” Thomas said. “I hit the ball a lot closer to the hole, but they wouldn't stick.”

Going into the final round with a tournament total 4-under-par 136, Thomas plans to work on hitting more fairways and staying out of the rough.

“Tomorrow I plan to hit more fairways because it's hard to stop the ball [on the green] from the rough.”

Rounding out the top-five in the Boys Division are Ryan Gay of Pittston, Maine, and Matt Buse of Loveland, Ohio, both tied for second at 1-over-par 141. Tied for fourth are Jim Liu of Smithtown, N.Y., and Jacob Everts of Ooltewah, Tenn., carding 4-over-par 144.

In the Girls Division, Kentucky native Koller sits 7-strokes ahead of Kyung Kim of Chandler, Ariz. Coming into the second round as the leader, Koller knew what was required of her to improve her second-round game.

“I wanted to play better than I did yesterday,” Koller said. “Even though I shot a good score, I knew that I did not play as well as I could. I tried to focus more today on what I was doing, as opposed to thinking so much about what I was messing up.”

Joining Koller's 3-over-par 143 on the leaderboard is Kim, in second at 10-over-par 150. Rounding out the top-three is Marika Lui of Bradenton, Fla., carding a 13-over-par 153.

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 for the Natural Resource Partners Bluegrass Junior will run from 7 a.m. — 1:30 p.m. off the No. 1 tee at Bellefonte Country Club. For more information please contact tournament headquarters at 606-326-1741 or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.

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