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Karsten Creek
Stillwater, Okla. • October 9 - 12

Morris Plays Steady to Lead the Girls Division at Karsten Creek Golf Club

STILLWATER, Okla. — Emiliano Grillo of Resistencia, Argentina, and Jim Liu of Smithtown, N.Y., share the first-round lead at The PING Invitational after each shot a 3-under-par 69. Leading by a stroke in the Girls Division is Rachel Morris of Carlsbad, Calif., who sits at 2-over-par 74 after Saturday's first round.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, The PING Invitational is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The 72-player field features players from 19 states, Colombia, Denmark, Northern Ireland and Thailand. The Boys Division is playing Karsten Creek Golf Club at 7,316 yards, while the Girls Division is playing at 6,307 yards.

Grillo came out firing with a 4-under-par 32 on the front nine. An eagle on No. 14 had him sitting at 7-under-par with four holes left to play. The final stretch proved tough for Grillo as he dropped four strokes, but a par on No. 18 secured his tie for the lead.

“I played really well on the front nine and hit almost every green,” Grillo said. “My final holes weren't that good, but if I can keep the ball in the fairway and on the green tomorrow, I'm going to fight through and make good putts.”

Tied for the lead in the Boys Division, Liu played steady with four birdies and a single bogey on the day.

“I kept it consistent and stayed out of trouble,” Liu said. “The course is really tough and the greens are fast, but I was able to read the green speed pretty consistently and that helped me out a lot.”

Two strokes behind the leaders in third is Patrick Rodgers of Avon, Ind., at 1-under-par 71. Tied for fourth are Matthew Ceravolo of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Gavin Hall of Pittsford, N.Y., each carding a 2-over-par 74.

Playing one of the toughest golf courses on the AJGA schedule did not disrupt Morris' focus as she made 16 pars. Although she had a birdie-free day, Morris felt she played solid throughout the first round.

“I made two bogeys on the front nine and then turned those over and pared the back nine,” Morris said. “I had to stay patient and par the difficult holes. I made my par saves today and hopefully some birdie putts will fall tomorrow.”

Tied for second in the Girls Division are Victoria Tanco of Bradenton, Fla., and Erynne Lee of Silverdale, Wash., at 3-over-par 75.

This week's tournament title partner, PING, designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of golf equipment including metal woods, irons, putters and golf bags. The family-owned company was founded in 1959 by the late Karsten Solheim. Solheim is the only person to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as a golf club manufacturer. Today, the Phoenix-based company is under the direction of Solheim's youngest son, John A. Solheim. PING game-improvement products can be found in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.pinggolf.com.

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 49 states and 25 foreign countries.

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 and Morgan Pressel.

Second-round tee times run 8-9:50 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Karsten Creek Golf Club. For more information on The PING Invitational, please contact AJGA Tournament Headquarters at (405) 533-8190.