AJGA Hunter Mahan: Baxter, Fleenor lead
29 Mar 2014
FRISCO, Texas — Benjamin Baxter of Flower Mound, Texas, and Preston Fleenor of Mission Hills, Kan., finished the first round of the Under Armour® / Hunter Mahan Championship tied for first in the Boys Division with 3-under-par 69s. Jordy LaBarbera of Allen, Texas, Alexis Sadeghy of Edmond, Okla., and Maddie Szeryk of Allen, Texas, lead the Girls Division with first-round scores of 1-under-par 71 at Stonebriar Country Club.Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Under Armour® / Hunter Mahan Championship is a 36-hole stroke play competition played on the par-72 course at Stonebriar Country Club. The event features 51 boys and 27 girls, ages 12-18, from 15 states and eight countries. The Boys Division plays the course at 6,905 yards, while the Girls Division plays the course at 6,110 yards.

Baxter started strong with back-to-back birdies and concluded a blemish-free front nine before finishing the round with another set of consecutive birdies.

“I hit 15 of 18 greens, which allowed for a very smooth round,” Baxter said. “My putting was working well and I was able to convert some difficult reads.”

Fleenor set himself up for success early, sinking a 20-foot putt on No. 1. He finished with four birdies and put himself in a good position heading into the final round.

“I’m excited about tomorrow,” Fleenor said. “I hope it’s really fun.”

In the Boys Division, Brandon Smith of Frisco, Texas, Yu-Chuan Hsiang of (Taiwan) Ontario, Calif., and Charles Kim of (South Korea) Cedar Park, Texas, are tied for third place at 2-under-par 70.

LaBarbera made the turn with three birdies, setting herself up early for a low first round score. She attributes her strong front nine to her overall success.

“I was hitting really good approach shots on the front nine which led me to shorter putts,” LaBarbera said. “That led me into the back nine knowing that I had that to hold on to, the cushion of a few birdies, and it helped me stay relaxed. I was able to keep making pars.”

Szeryk sunk a long putt on No. 8 to pick up her first birdie of the day. She posted two more birdies on the back nine to end her round at 1-under-par.

“On No. 8 I hit my 7-iron to about 18 feet,” Szeryk said. “The green was really fast so I was just focusing on speed and ended up having the right line and it went in.”

Sadeghy had a strong front nine with three birdies. Despite starting the back nine with less success, she pared her last five holes to finish in a three-way tie for first.

“I birdied the first hole, so that put me off to a good start,” Sadeghy said. “After that, the front nine was really good for me. I was able to make a lot of putts.”

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