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Mission Inn Resort & Club - El Campeon Course
Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. • June 22 - 25

Wang leads Girls Division at Junior All-Star at Mission Inn

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. — Samuel Jabba, 15, of Bogota, Colombia, made the El Campeon Course at the Mission Inn Resort and Club look easy Tuesday, as he notched four birdies en route to a 3-under-par 69 during the first round of the Junior All-Star at Mission Inn. Xin Wang, 14, of Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., leads the Girls Division after firing an even-par 72.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Junior All-Star at Mission Inn is a 54-hole stroke play event held at Mission Inn Club and Resort — El Campeon Course. The tournament field features 52 boys and 18 girls — ages 12-15 — from 16 states as well as Colombia and Mexico. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 El Campeon Course at 6,655 yards and the Girls Division is playing at 5,696 yards.

On the eve of the first round, Jabba could be found practicing his putting and chipping on the practice putting green from 4 — 8 p.m. It paid off in the first round, as three of his four birdie putts were 15 feet or longer, including a 25-footer on No. 15. His other birdie putt was a tap-in after he knocked his chip to within three feet of the flagstick.

But Jabba knows it takes more than one good round to win a golf tournament.

“If I still make putts and stay calm tomorrow, and shoot under par, then I should be good for the final day,” Jabba said. “I'm not thinking about winning, just take it hole-by-hole. Tomorrow's the first day.”

Tied for second at even-par 72, are Wheaton Hall of Springfield, Ga., Joey Petronio of Orlando, Fla., and Zachary Toste of Pembroke Pines, Fla. In fifth place sits Peter Mathison of Jupiter, Fla., with a 1-over-par 73.

In the Girls Division, Xin Wang, a member of the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, feels right at home after trading in four birdies for four bogeys on her way to securing the opening round lead with an even-par 72.

While she is pleased with her birdies, she says she left several strokes on the greens of her home course, a course she's played more than 20 times.

“I know I can play better…I know this course very well,” Wang confessed. “I bogeyed the two easiest holes on the course, Nos. 1 and 10. I just missed my putts.”

While the humble Wang is hard on herself, she still takes a three-shot lead into the second round.

Tied for second at 3-over-par 75 are Juliet Vongphoumy of Providence, R.I., and Vivian Hsuan Chen of Bradenton, Fla.

The Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series is a collection of nine events specifically designed for boys and girls ages 12-15 and presents opportunities for younger members to develop their skills and earn entry into Open tournaments. Juniors are limited to a maximum combination of five AJGA Open and Junior All-Star Series events during a calendar year. The series concludes with the Junior All-Star Invitational over Columbus Day weekend for winners and top finishers in the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series events.

Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy, a full-time junior golf training and development program, enters its first year as an Official Partner of the AJGA. The partnership features an endowment of an Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant and the naming rights to the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy Junior All-Star Series, which will provide juniors access to national competitive golf opportunities.

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 an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 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 200 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 350 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.

Second-round tee times for the Junior All-Star at Mission Inn will run from 7:30-9:09 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Mission Inn Resort and Club — El Campeon Course. For more information on the Junior All-Star at Mission Inn, please call Tournament Headquarters at (678) 617-2420.