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Moon Valley Country Club
Phoenix, Ariz. • July 27 - 30



Hickle and Park come from behind to be co-leaders with Sanchez at Moon Valley Country Club

PHOENIXTad Murray of La Quinta, Calif., posted a personal-low, 7-under-par 65 to earn a share of the top spot with first-round leader Preston Valder of Yorba Linda, Calif., at the PING Phoenix Junior Wednesday. In the Girls Division, three girls are tied atop the leaderboard at 2-over-par 146. Daffodil Sanchez of Mesa, Ariz., Cheyenne Hickle of Gilbert, Arizona, and Kaitlin Park from Tuscan Ranch, Calif., will play together in the final group Thursday, making for an exciting final-round finish.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the PING Phoenix Junior is a 54-hole stroke play event held at Moon Valley Country Club.  The 78 player field features players from 11 states, Canada, Mexico and Thailand. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 course at 7,160 yards, while the Girls Division is playing it at 6,341 yards.

Murray’s round was aided by a host of birdies that culminated in an eagle on No. 8.

“I played boring golf, just fairways and greens,” Murray said.  “I didn’t make many mistakes.  I’m feeling good about going into tomorrow.  If I just play the way I played today that’ll do it.” 

Valder followed up his six birdies in the first round with seven more in the second. 

“I had a good front nine shooting 33, but the back nine could have been better because I bogeyed my last three,” Valder said.  “But 69 is still 69 so I’ll take it.” 

Tied for third place at 5-under-par 139 are Michael Lai of Redlands, Calif., and Tanner Kesterson of Plano Texas.  Jeff Wibawa of Encino, Calif., and Brian Kyunguk Song, of Beverly Hills, Calif., are tied for fifth at 4-under-par 140.

After a 1-under-par 71 in the first round, Sanchez posted a 3-over-par 75. The rising junior will look to capture her second AJGA title Thursday.

“Putts weren’t falling and I wasn’t hitting it close to the flag,” Sanchez said.  “So I just got by with pars.”

Park on the other hand seemed to be making all her putts, capitalizing on her opportunity to jump into a tie for the lead. 

“I had five birdies in a row, but the fifth one was a 25 footer that I was hoping to just two putt,” Park said. “I’m just going to continue to practice hard because it paid off today.”

Hickle credited her 1-under-par round to her ball striking. She will be looking for her first AJGA title in her last summer of junior golf before beginning her collegiate career at the University of Oregon in the fall.

“I hit almost every green in regulation and reached three out of the four par 5s in two,” Hickle said.  “Hopefully a few more putts will drop tomorrow and I can go low.”      
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 30 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. 
               Final-round tee times will run from
6:30 – 8:18 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Moon Valley Country Club. For more information, please contact Tournament Director Jonah Beck at (678) 617-2425 or visit the AJGA Web site at ajga.org.