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U.S. Girls' Junior: McCloskey is medalist

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (July 22, 2008)--Lisa McCloskey, 16, of Montgomery, Texas, shot a sizzling 8-under 63 to earn stroke-play medalist honors Tuesday at the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being played at the 6,265-yard, par-71 Hartford Golf Club.

McCloskey, who opened with an even-par 71, started her second round with a birdie on the par-5, 481-yard 10th hole. She birdied all four par 5s on Hartford’s layout, including her 18th hole, the 500-yard ninth, when she pitched from 25 yards to 4 feet.

She reeled off four consecutive birdies, from the fourth hole, and recorded a 5-under 30 on Hartford’s front nine, the second nine of her round.

“It feels good, especially at the U.S. Girls’ Junior,” said McCloskey of her 63, which is a career-low. “I’d rather shoot it here rather than anywhere else.”

The 63 was one stroke off the championship’s 18-hole record, set by Christina Kim in 2001 and Kimberly Kim in 2007. But matching that championship low wasn’t on McCloskey’s mind.

“To be honest, it might sound weird but I thought I was shooting like 65,” said McCloskey, who is playing in her fourth Girls’ Junior. “I couldn’t really keep track of what the heck was going on.”

Stephanie Kim, 16, of Orlando, Fla., shot a 68-70—138 to finish four strokes behind McCloskey, but she wasn’t upset about losing out on medalist honors.

“I really hope I’m not medalist,” said Kim while she waited for McCloskey to finish. “I know it sounds weird, but medalists don’t usually win. But I don’t mind second!”

For a while, 17-year-old Madison Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla., was in the hunt for medalist honors after birdieing four of her first five holes. But Pressel, the younger sister of 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Morgan Pressel, cooled off and finished at even-par 71 (140 total), six strokes behind McCloskey but good enough to finish third in stroke-play qualifying.

Among those advancing to match play were three USGA champions: 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur winner Kimberly Kim, 16, of Pahoa, Hawaii, defending Girls’ Junior champion Kristen Park, 14, of Buena Park, Calif., and 2006 champion Jenny Shin, 15, of Torrance, Calif.

Kimberly Kim, who is trying to become the seventh golfer in history to claim both the Women’s Amateur and Girls’ Junior titles, recorded consecutive 1-over 72s. Park, who is trying to become the first repeat champion since Hollis Stacy won three consecutive Girls’ Juniors from 1969-71, finished at 73-71—144.

For Shin, who followed up her first-round 71 with a 2-under 69, getting off to a good start was particularly important. Her bid to repeat a year ago ended early when she missed the match-play cut by two strokes.

“Last year I was having trouble for some reason,” said Shin, who missed the cut at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open by one stroke. “It feels really nice to have my game back and make the cut and get into match play and compete with the other girls.”

First-round leader Kyle Roig, 15, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., who held a one-stroke lead after a 4-under 67, had a tougher time Tuesday morning, carding four bogeys and three double bogeys en route to an 8-over 79.

But Roig still easily advanced to Wednesday’s first round of match play.

“All you want is to make match play and after that nobody really cares what you shoot,” said Roig, a Puerto Rico native who is playing in her third Girls’ Junior. “In match play, if you have a bad hole it doesn’t matter, you can just forget it. I like match play a lot, much more than stroke play.”

The 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior continues with the first and second rounds of match play Wednesday. The third and quarterfinal rounds will be played Thursday and the semifinal matches are on Friday. The championship concludes with Saturday’s 36-hole final.

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.

ABOUT THE U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur

The Girls Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the USGA. The event is open to female golfers who have not reached their 18th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 18.4. 36 hole stroke play qualifying from which 64 players advance to match play. Regional qualifying held at sites around the United States.

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