AJGA Rolex: Kim, Morikawa go low, share lead
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 25, 2014) -- Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge, California, and Justin Kim of Fullerton, California, tied the competitive course record at Richland Country Club set by AJGA alum and PGA TOUR Professional David Gossett in the 1998 Tennessee State Amateur. The pair carded 7-under-par 65s to lead after the first round of the Rolex Tournament of Champions. In the Girls Division, Shannon Brooks of Vienna, Virginia, leads by one stroke at 4-under-par 68.Begun in 1978, the Rolex Tournament of Champions is one of the two longest-running AJGA events. This year, nine of the top 20 girls in the Polo Golf Rankings and 10 of the top 20 boys are competing. Past winners of the Rolex Tournament of Champions include Inbee Park, David Duval, Heather Farr, Charles Howell III, Morgan Pressel, Webb Simpson, two-time winner Beth Bauer and three-time victor Phil Mickelson.

Kim made eight birdies in the round, five of which came on the back nine, en route to a 5-under-par 31. Kim was a 2013 second-team Rolex Junior All-American and has eight top-10 finishes in his AJGA career. In his first Rolex Tournament of Champions, Kim found success in the first round.

“I was trying to get something going for the back nine, so when I birdied Nos. 9 and 10, it gave me a lot of confidence going forward,” said Kim, a UNLV verbal commit. “I just want to play smart and we’ll see where I end up.”

In his second appearance at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, Morikawa had nine birdies, due largely in part to his 28 putts. Morikawa had a strong year in 2013, winning the Western Junior Open on his way to becoming a first-team Rolex Junior All-American.

“It’s a great feeling leading after the first round, but there’s a lot of golf left to be played,” Morikawa said. “I’m going to try and stay as focused as I can and stick to my game.”

Spencer Soosman of Westlake Village, California, and William Register of Burlington, North Carolina, are tied for third at 5-under-par 67. Eight players are tied for fifth at 4-under-par 68: Kyle Sterbinsky of Yardley, Pennsylvania, KK Limbhasut of (Thailand) Loma Linda, California, Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, Illinois, Sean Crocker of Westlake Village, California, Kristian Caparros of Hollywood, Florida, Nick Hardy of Northbrook, Illinois, Theo Humphrey of Greenwich, Connecticut, and Justin Chong of Granada Hills, California.

Brooks, a University of Tennessee verbal commit, leads the Girls Division after a 3-under-par back nine with no bogeys. Brooks has one AJGA win and seven top-10s in her career. In her first Rolex Tournament of Champions, Brooks credited her putting in the first round.

“I was really happy with my putting today, since I’ve been working so hard on my putting lately,” Brooks said. “I had 27 putts today, so I hope I can keep this up throughout the week.”

Elizabeth Wang of San Marino, California, is in second at 3-under-par 69. Six players are tied for third at 1-under-par 71: Chih Min Chen of New Taipei City, Taiwan, Stephanie Lau of Fullerton, California, Lauren Stephenson of Lexington, South Carolina, Robynn Ree of Redondo Beach, California, Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley, California, and Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, California.

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