PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Nov. 25, 2013) — Jonah Texeira of Sun Valley, Calif., fired an opening 5-under-par 67 to lead his first AJGA Invitational after the first round of stroke play at the Polo Golf Junior Classic. One of two girls to turn in a subpar round, Michaela Owen of Suwanee, Ga., carded a 3-under-par 69 to take the lead in the Girls Division at PGA National Resort & Spa.
The Polo Golf Junior Classic, which has been conducted annually since 1978, marks the first tournament of the American Junior Golf Association's 2014 season. The 156-player invitation-only field is made up of 78 boys and 78 girls, ages 13-18, from 27 states and seven foreign countries. Former champions include Stewart Cink (1989), Trevor Immelman (1995), Tiger Woods (1991), Paula Creamer (2002), Grace Park (1994, 1996) and Morgan Pressel (2004).
During Monday's first round, the Boys Division played the Fazio Course (6,995 yards, par 72), while the Girls Division played the Champion Course (6,384 yards, par 72). The tournament fields will be cut to the low 32 players following the second round.
Battling 20 to 25 mph winds with gusts of 35, Texeira, who started on No. 10, maintained consistency through his first nine holes, making the turn at 1-under-par 35. With his lone error coming as a bogey on the 515-yard, par-5, No. 1, Texeira strung together consecutive birdies on Nos. 2, 3 and 4. The USC commit fueled the momentum with a 50-foot birdie putt on No. 6, and recorded his sixth and final birdie on the par-4, No. 8 after he holed out from the bunker.
“This is my last AJGA season, so being in an event like this is a blessing,” said Texeira, who last competed in the 2011 Polo Golf Junior Classic. “To earn a medal in stroke play would be a true honor and would just prove that all the hard work I’ve put in the last few months has paid off.”
Cameron Young of Scarborough, N.Y., is one stroke back of Texeira at 4-under-par 68, while three players are tied for third at 70: Scott Scheffler of Dallas, Grant Hirschman of Collierville, Tenn., and Japan’s Hidetoshi Yoshihara of Irvine, Calif.
Consistent play and smart club selection helped Owen overcome challenging elements to card a 3-under-par 69 in the first round. Her round included four birdies against one bogey, highlighted by a tap-in birdie on the par-4, No. 6. A tournament alternate this year, Owen returned to PGA National Resort & Spa after being ousted in round one of match play in 2012.
“My goal this year is to make match play and advance past the first round,” Owen said. “I’ve been practicing a lot and practicing consistency with the wind which really helped me today. I’m just trying to take one stroke at a time and stay consistent one stroke at a time.”
The only other girl to finish under par was Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas, who carded a 2-under-par 70 for second. In a three-way tie for third are Lakareber Abe of Angleton, Texas, Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Fla., and China’s Ruixin Liu at 1-over-par 73.
View results for AJGA Polo Junior Classic Golf Tournament