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Fayetteville Country Club
Fayetteville, Ark. • August 10 - 13

Talley steals spotlight by finding only red score with 2-under-par 70 at Blessings Golf Club

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Matthew Mabrey of Little Rock, Ark., is the Boys Division clubhouse leader at the AJGA Arkansas Junior at Blessings after carding an even-par 72 during Tuesday's opening round. Refusing to be overshadowed is Emma Talley of Princeton, Ky., who carded the day's low round with a 2-under-par 70 at Blessings Golf Club to lead in the Girls Division.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the AJGA Arkansas Junior at Blessings is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark. The tournament field consists of 75 boys and 24 girls, ages 12-18, from 20 states. The Boys Division is playing the par-72 Blessings Golf Club layout at 6,923 yards, and the Girls Division is playing at 5,900 yards.

The often intimidating Blessings Golf Club did no such thing to Mabrey, who made the front nine look pedestrian by shooting a bogey-free 2-under-par 35 before making the turn. While things didn't come as easy for Mabrey on the back, as he double-bogeyed the par-3 No. 10 and bogeyed the par-4 No. 18, he refused to lose focus and recorded a birdie and six pars en route to shooting a 2-over-par 37.

“I've played this course so many times; you just have to take your medicine,” Mabrey said. “If you can be in the fairway and have a shot at the green, you can be alright. You just can't be too aggressive.”

Mabrey attributed his success to following his pre-tee advice: be cautious off the tee.

“I babied a drive down the middle of Nos. 6 and 9,” Mabrey explained. “My plan was to take it easy off the tee and hit as many greens as I could.” For the day, Mabrey hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation.

Tyler Thomas of Beaumont, Texas, Drew Czuchry of Auburn, Ga., and Dario Ortega of Fort Collins, Colo., are all tied for second at 2-over-par 74. Tied for fifth are Will Pearson of Memphis, Tenn., Elliot Shin of Franklin, Tenn., and Taylor Moore of Edmond, Okla., at 3-over-par 75.

In the Girls Division, Talley cake-walked through the front nine by firing seven pars and two birdies en route to making the turn at 2-under-par 35. She gave credit to her newly found putting storke.

“I putted good and I didn't make mistakes. I played hard, and I knew if I eliminated the mistakes it would be a good day,” Talley said. “Right before I got to this tournament I had a putting lesson for a couple hours; I hadn't been putting good for a couple weeks, but I worked hard on it, and it just worked for me today.”

It wasn't until late in her round that Talley showed signs of being human when she succumbed to the course twice in a row and gave back two strokes by bogeying Nos. 14 and 15. However, on the par-3 No. 17 she would find another birdie and return to her current score of 2-under-par 70.

“I'm not going to change my game play,” Talley said. “I might change a few club selections but other than that I'm just going to play my game and not worry about the score as much as the shot.”

In second is Gianna Misenhelter of Overland Park, Kan., at 3-over-par 75. Following closely behind her is Emma Lavy of Fayetteville, Ark., who is in the clubhouse at 4-over-par 76.

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 50 states and more than 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.

Second-round tee times for the AJGA Arkansas Junior at Blessings will run from 7:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m. off the No.1 tee Wednesday, August 12, at Blessings Golf Club. For more information, please call Tournament Headquarters at (678) 617-9917.