SCOTSDALE, AZ (May 27, 2017) - Kaiwen Liu of San Diego posted a 6-under-par 66 in the first round to lead the Thunderbird International Junior by one stroke. Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tennessee, carded a 4-under-par 68 on Grayhawk Golf Club’s Raptor Course to pace the Girls Division.
The Thunderbird International Junior is celebrating its 18th year on the AJGA schedule. Many past champions of the event have gone on to successful college, PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour careers including Morgan Pressel, Ariya Jutanugarn, Ryan Moore and Brian Harman. With the support of The Thunderbirds, Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation, Grayhawk Golf Club and Under Armour®, the event has become one of the most competitive and fun-filled junior golf tournaments in the world.
Liu posted seven birdies during the first round including back-to-back birdies on Nos. 6-7 and Nos. 15-16. The University of California – Berkeley commit is competing in the event for the second time after finishing T18 in 2016. Liu is an AJGA champion and three-time Rolex Junior All-American.
Heck posted six birdies during her round to lead the Girls Division by one stroke. Verbally committed to Stanford, Heck hasn’t finished outside the top-10 of a national junior golf tournament since June 2016. The two-time Rolex Junior All-American is chasing her first AJGA Invitational win.
Ryan Grider of Lewisville, Texas, Eugene Hong of Orlando, and William Moll of Houston are T2 at 5-under-par 67. Cole Hammer of Houston, Will Thomson of Naples, Florida, Ricky Castillo of Yorba Linda, California, and Wocheng Ye of Lake Mary, Florida, round out the Boys Division top five at 3-under-par 69.
Three-time Thunderbird International Junior participant Alyaa Abdulghany of Newport Beach, California, is in second at 3-under-par 69. Jennifer Zhou of Longwood, Florida, and Sophie Guo of Orlando round out the top-three girls at 2-under-par 70.
Second-round tee times will run from 7:15 – 9:15 a.m. off Nos. 1 and 10 of the Raptor Course at Grayhawk Golf Club.
ABOUT THE Thunderbird International Junior
Conducted by the American Junior Golf
Association, the Thunderbird International
Junior is a 54-hole stroke play competition
played on the par-72, Raptor Course at
Grayhawk Golf Club. The event features 48
boys and 30 girls, ages 12-18, from 17 states
and 14 countries. The Boys Division is playing
the course at 7,112 yards while the Girls
Division is playing the course at 6,342 yards.
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