PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Nov. 20, 2012) -- Scott Scheffler of Dallas carded a 2-under-par 141 to claim medalist honors in stroke play at the Polo Golf Junior Classic and earn the No. 1 seed heading into match play. Ariya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand, and Esther Lee of Los Alamitos, Calif., recorded 2-under-par 142s to claim co-medalist honors.
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 Tuesday's second round, the Boys Division played the Champion Course (7,136 yards, par 71), while the Girls Division played the Fazio (Haig) Course (6,315 yards, par 72). The tournament field was cut to the low 32 players following Tuesday's round.
Scheffler was four strokes off the pace heading into the second round, but his short game put him in the race with five birdies en route to a 68.
“The wind is tough out here. The good thing is when your short game is on, you can get away with some shots and you can still get up and down for par,” said Scheffler, who is a second-team Rolex Junior All-American. “The wind's blowing so hard right now, everyone's going to hit some good shots, it just comes down to how you recover from those bad shots.”
Benjamin Griffin of Chapel Hill, N.C. (No. 2 seed), and Robby Shelton, IV of Wilmer, Ala. (No. 3 seed), who is No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings, finished at 1-under-par 142. Jacob Joiner of Albany, Ga. (No. 4 seed), carded even-par to take fourth, while Matt Gilchrest of Southlake, Texas (No. 5 seed), and Adam Wood of Zionsville, Ind.(No. 6 seed), tied for fifth at 1-over-par.
Parker Derby of Columbus, Ga., survived a three-hole playoff against six players to take the final spot in match play.
Jutanugarn started the day tied for ninth, but soon erased a four-shot deficit with four birdies in her first six holes. The two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year missed the cut for match play last year, and was determined to change her fate in 2012.
“I bogeyed my final hole last year and that's why I missed the cut,” Jutanugarn said. “I need to work on making the right choices… I talked to my sister yesterday and she said I need to make the cut.”
Esther Lee maintained her lead despite claiming inconsistencies in her game. She posted three birdies against four bogeys en route to a 1-over-par 73.
“It wasn't a great day for me, my irons were not as consistent as I liked, but my drives were really good and I think I only missed one fairway,” said Lee, who will enter match play as the No. 1 seed. “It feels really good to make match play and to be the co-medalist. It's a plus to be next to a great player like Ariya…seeing my name right next to hers with the same score feels really good. I will be more aggressive in match play.”
Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif. (No. 3 seed), and Abbey Carlson of Lake Mary, Fla. (No. 4 seed), tied for third at 144, while Michaela Owen of Suwanee, Ga. (No. 5 seed), and defending champion Nicole Morales of South Salem, N.Y. (No. 6), shared fifth place at 145.
First-round matches will begin Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., while second-round matches will begin around noon. The Girls Division will play its first-round matches on the Fazio (Haig) Course, while all other Girls and Boys Division matches will be held on the Champion Course.
View results for AJGA Polo Junior Classic Golf Tournament