Dalke, Connelly share lead at AJGA PING Invitational
Brad Dalke
Brad Dalke
STILLWATER, Okla. (Oct. 11, 2014) — After 18 holes at The PING Invitational, reigning champion Brad Dalke (pictured) of Hobart, Oklahoma, reclaimed his spot atop the Boys Division leaderboard, sharing the first-place position with Austin Connelly of Irving, Texas, at 2-under-par 70. In the Girls Division, Kaitlyn Papp of Austin, Texas, and Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley, California, are tied for first with 1-under-par 71s.

Dalke opened his round at Karsten Creek with birdies on three of the first four holes, including the opening 535-yard par-5. With a steady back nine ending in an even-par 36, the future Oklahoma Sooner moved to the top of the leaderboard.

“I just love coming here and playing here,” Dalke said. “I feel like this course sets up for me really well and I have a lot of confidence on this course. [To win] would be huge for me, especially in Cowboy country, to get two in a row.”

Connelly also opened the round with a birdie on No. 1 and matched it with one on No. 10. A front-nine 2-under-par 34 boosted the four-time AJGA champion into the lead with Dalke.

“I got off to a good start with a birdie on No. 1; that was the most important hole of the day.” Connelly said. “It’s going to be a completely different golf course tomorrow with the south wind. With a golf course like this, if you aren’t hitting good shots, you aren’t going to have good results.”

Finishing the day in third was Brent Ito of Ardsley, New York. Ito posted a 1-under-par 71 and is making his first PING Invitational appearance. In fourth at even-par 72 is Donnie Trosper of Canton, Michigan. Trosper also makes his PING Invitational debut following a successful 2014 campaign that included three victories. Triston Fisher of Southlake, Texas, sits alone in fifth at 2-over-par 74, while Gabriel Lench of Lake Mary, Florida, Sam Burns of Shreveport, Louisiana, Andreas Halvorsen of Norway, and Timothy Colanta of Reunion, Florida, are tied for sixth at 3-over-par 75. In a six-way tie for 10th at 4-over-par 76 are Doc Redman of Raleigh, North Carolina, John Lazor of Westwood, Massachusetts, Noah Goodwin of Corinth, Texas, Jacob Solomon of Dublin, California, Youxin (Robin) Wang of Lake Mary, Florida, and Nathan Jeansonne of Keithville, Louisiana.

Papp turned in a back-nine 2-under-par 34 on the strength of three birdies in six holes to post a 1-under-par 71. The future Texas Longhorn is in familiar territory as she was among the top three after each of the first two rounds in 2013, before finishing T4.

“I really like this course because it is so challenging and it requires everything in your game to be on,” Papp said. “It was awesome to get off to a great start again and I really want to keep it that way and just repeat what I did today, the next two days.”

Vu, the first-round leader in 2013, concluded her day with three birdies through the final four holes, good for a 1-under-par 71. A UCLA verbal commit, the three-time AJGA champion is seeking her first win of the year.

“This is my favorite course of the year and I’ve been looking forward to this event,” Vu said. “Today I was hitting really good approach shots and making the putts I needed to make and my driving was good as well so that was key.”

In third at even-par 72 are Jillian Hollis of Rocky River, Ohio, and Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Florida, both members of the2014 Wyndham Cup East Team.. Robynn Ree of Redondo Beach, California, sits in fifth at 1-over-par 73.

Second-round tee times will run from 8 – 9:50 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees at Karsten Creek on Sunday.

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