WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (July 21, 2008)--Kyle Roig, 15, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., recorded a 4-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead after Monday’s first round of stroke play at the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being played at the 6,265-yard, par-71 Hartford Golf Club.
On the par-5, 500-yard ninth hole, the 18th of her round, Roig hit her approach shot from 80 yards to 8 feet, which she converted to finish ahead of the trio of Stephanie Kim, 16, of Orlando, Fla.; Jennifer Kirby, 17, of Canada; and Samantha Swinehart, 16, of Lancaster, Ohio, all of whom shot 3-under 68.
It was a good start for Roig, who is playing in her third Girls’ Junior.
“When I woke up I was very calm,” said Roig, who represented her native country, Puerto Rico, in the 2006 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. “I was very determined and positive to do well today.”
That determination paid off as Roig recorded six birdies and two bogeys.
“It takes the pressure off,” said Roig of her solid start. “I am still going to go out there and try to go low and get medalist. I want to get medalist.”
Kirby and Kim both eagled the par-5, 481-yard 10th hole to highlight their 3-under rounds. Kirby hit her second shot from 221 yards with a 7-wood to 15 feet, and Kim hit her second shot from 220 yards with a 3-wood to 3 feet.
“It just all came together today,” said Kirby, who is playing in her third Girls’ Junior. “I hit the ball really well and hit a lot of greens, which is pretty vital on this course, and I just made a couple of putts.”
For Kim, the key was her success on the greens – she needed just 29 putts during her first round.
“I was playing great,” said Kim, also playing in her third Girls’ Junior. “I wasn’t hitting the ball overly well, but I was getting up and down from everywhere.”
Swinehart, the lone USGA championship rookie among the leaders, had four birdies and a bogey in her first round. Her 68 bested her previous low round by three strokes.
Two strokes off the lead is 17-year-old Madison Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla. Pressel, the younger sister of 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Morgan Pressel, had three birdies and one bogey en route to a 2-under 69. She hopes to improve upon the record of her sister, who won 14 matches in six Girls’ Junior appearances but never took home the trophy.
“It’s my chance to one-up her on something,” said Madison with a good-natured smile. “We’ll see how that goes.”
The 2006 Girls’ Junior champion, Jenny Shin, 15, of Torrance, Calif., finished at 1-over 72 and 2007 winner Kristen Park, 16, of Buena Park, Calif., finished with a 73.
Park said she didn’t feel any additional pressure being the defending champion.
“I try not to feel pressure from that because that might affect how I play,” said Park, who is trying to become the first repeat winner since Holly Stacy won three consecutive championships from 1969-71.
Despite being one of the better-known players in the field, 2008 USA Curtis Cupper Kimberly Kim, 16, of Pahoa, Hawaii, also said pressure was not a factor.
“Maybe if I were a serious golfer, there would be more pressure,” said Kim, who in 2006 at age 14 became the youngest U.S. Women’s Amateur champion in history. “But I’m not.”
Her game, however, remains serious. After recording one birdie and four bogeys on her first nine holes, she came back with two birdies on her second nine to finish at 1-over 72.
“It was a mess on the front,” said Kim, who is vying to become the seventh golfer to win the Girls’ Junior and Women’s Amateur. “On the back I settled down and played better.”
Following a second day of stroke play Tuesday, the U.S. Girls’ Junior field will be reduced to 64 players for match play. The first and second rounds of match play are scheduled for Wednesday, the third and quarterfinal rounds will be played Thursday, the semifinal matches are on Friday, and the 36-hole championship final will be played Saturday.
The U.S. Girls’ Junior is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
View results for U.S. Girls' Junior Golf Championship