PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Nov. 19, 2012) — Adam Wood of Zionsville, Ind., took sole possession of the Boys Division lead at 3-under-par 69 after the first round of stroke play at the Polo Golf Junior Classic. A pair of 69s from Rachel Dai of Milton, Ga., and Esther Lee of Los Alamitos, Calif., put them in the lead for the Girls Division at PGA National Resort & Spa.The Polo Golf Junior Classic, which has been conducted annually since 1978, marks the first tournament of the American Junior Golf Association's 2013 season. The 156-player invitation-only field is made up of 78 boys and 78 girls, ages 13-18, from 33 states, Puerto Rico and 11 foreign countries. Former champions include Stewart Cink (1989), Trevor Immelman (1995), Tiger Woods (1991), Paula Creamer (2002), Grace Park (1994, 1996) and Morgan Pressel (2004).
During Monday's first round, the Boys Division played the Fazio (Haig) Course (6,995 yards, par 72), while the Girls Division played the Champion Course (6,404 yards, par 72). The tournament fields will be cut to the low 32 players following the second round.
Wood, last year's stroke play medalist and match play semifinalist, made the turn at 1-under-par and continued his strong performance on the back nine, posting a bogey-free 2-under-par 34. The first-team Rolex Junior All-American said his ability to hit greens was key to his success in Monday's round.
“I hit seven greens on the front nine and didn't have to worry about getting up and down,” said Wood, who has verbally committed to Duke and is No. 4 in the Polo Golf Rankings. “It was really the pars that I made today. Not all the aspects of my game were perfect, but I scored well and I just need to work more off the tee.”
Hannes Ronneblad of Kungsbacka, Sweden is one stroke back of Wood at 2-under-par 70, while six players are tied for third at 71: Michael Pisciotta of Alpharetta, Ga., Romain Langasque of Le Tignet, France, Benjamin Griffin of Chapel Hill, N.C., Matt Gilchrest of Southlake, Texas, Joshua Lee of Orange Park, Fla., and Fred Allen Meyer of Nicholasville, Ky.
On the girls' side of the draw, Dai and Esther Lee found success on the Champion course with both players carding 3-under-par 69s.
Dai said she was able to avoid trouble on the course, enabling her to post four birdies in her opening round. Following a bogey on No. 6, a birdie on No. 7 gave her momentum to finish bogey-free on the back nine.
“I had a few lucky shots and was able to tap-in,” said Dai, who earned honorable mention Rolex Junior All-America accolades. “On No. 13 I hit the pin and it stopped about a foot from the hole. My strength was getting up and down, but if I don't hit the greens (Tuesday) that's okay, I just want to stay dry.”
Lee, who recently signed her National Letter of Intent with Duke, turned in a 2-under-par 34 on the front nine, and edged her way to the top of the leaderboard with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 to start the back. A pair of bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 was offset by her three birdies on the back nine en route to a 1-under-par 35.
“The greens were easy to read because they're so nice and each view had a line that showed it would go in,” said Lee, a first-team Rolex Junior All-American. “This is my fifth year playing in the event. It's my favorite tournament of the year and I just want to make it to match play because as long as you do that you can go up from there.”
Haley Moore of Escondido, Calif., sits in third at 2-under-par 70, with Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., and Abbey Carlson of Lake Mary, Fla., tied for fourth at 71.
About the American Junior Golf Association
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,500 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 40 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
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