AJGA Polo Golf Junior: Crowded leaderboard for Boys, while Sierra Brooks leads Girls
Sierra Brooks
Sierra Brooks

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Defending champion Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Florida, leads the Polo Golf Junior Classic after carding a 3-under-par 69 on the Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa in the first round. Competing on the Fazio Course, Philip Barbaree of Shreveport, Louisiana, Ryan Gerard of Raleigh, North Carolina, Joshua Gliege of Eagle, Idaho, S.M. Lee of Buford, Georgia, Won Jun Lee of Wesley Chapel, Florida, and Kaiwen Liu of San Diego, are tied at 3-under-par 69.

The Polo Golf Junior Classic features 156 of the top junior golfers in the world in stroke and match play. After 36 holes of stroke play, the top 32 players in the Boys and Girls Divisions will advance to match play to determine the champions.

Brooks, defending her 2014 Polo Golf Junior Classic title, posted five birdies during the first round, holding a one-stroke lead. The first-team Rolex Junior All-American is coming off a T2 finish at the PING Invitational and posted two wins during the 2015 AJGA season. Brooks thrived in the windy conditions and is excited about the possibility of advancing to match play at her favorite AJGA event.

“It’s definitely windy, but I enjoy getting to play in conditions like this because it’s a challenge, Brooks said. “I’ll definitely take three under on the Champion Course in these conditions so it was a great day. It’s always a tournament where you make memories that last a lifetime.”

Fellow first-team Rolex Junior All-American and PING Junior Solheim Cup teammate Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, California, posted a 2-under-par 70 to hold second. Angel Yin of Arcadia, California, Mariel Galdiano of Pearl City, Hawaii, and Rino Sasaki of Tokyo, Japan, rounded out the top-three girls at 1-under-par 71.

Gliege, S.M. Lee and Gerard are three of 110 newcomers to the 156-player field. In 2014, Spencer Soosman of Westlake Village, California, won the title as a first-time player showing that anyone can win.

Won Jun Lee advanced to the round of 32, while Liu did not advance to match play during their first Polo Golf Junior Classic appearances in 2014. During his round, Liu did his best not to worry about advancing to match play and focus on every shot in such a prestigious tournament.

“I wasn’t trying to think about qualifying, I was just trying to play my best on every single shot and not let anything limit me,” Liu said. “I feel really honored to play where the pros have played and to play against the best players in the world.”

Rolex Junior Player of the Year, Barbaree is also competing in his second Polo Golf Junior Classic. Barbaree had a consistent round, only posting one bogey. The LSU verbal commit did not advance to match play at his Polo Golf Junior Classic debut in 2014, but is dedicated to changing that this year.

“I didn’t hit it that great, but I got up and down a lot of times and when I had reasonable looks at birdie, I made a few,” Barbaree said. “I’m going to do the same things I did today and hopefully I grind out another good score and hopefully make it to match play.”

Second-round tee times for the Girls Division will run from 7:30-9:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees on the Fazio Course at PGA National Resort & Spa, while second-round tee times for the Boys Division will run from 7:30-9:30 a.m. off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees on the Championship Course at PGA National Resort & Spa. For more information on the Polo Golf Junior Classic, please contact Tournament Headquarters at (678) 485-1135.

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ABOUT THE Polo Junior Classic

Sixty-four top junior golfers will be invited to compete in a round-robin style match play event. Based on the Rolex AJGA Rankings, an equal field of 32 boys (Polo Division) and 32 girls (Liberty Division) will be divided into eight groupings of four players each to compete in three guaranteed singles matches. The top eight Polo Division boys and Liberty Division girls from each group after pool play will advance to single- elimination matches.

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