Sam Choi (left) and Devon Bling hope to bring the title back to California
SAN DIEGO, California (July 13, 2017) -- 36-hole leader Devon Bling has some company at the top of the IMG Junior World leaderboard.
With just one round left to play in the 72-hole championship, Bling, of Ridgecrest, Calif. shares the lead with recent SCGA Amateur champion Sam Choi of Irvine at 7-under 209. And while the player in third place (Julian Perico of Peru) in the boys 15-18 division is just 3-shots back, the odds of a California winner are looking pretty good.
Should that happen it would be the first time since 2012, when Rico Hoey of Rancho Cucamonga won the title.
Although Choi was born in Korea, he has made California home for the past 6 years, so if he wins we'll definitely count it. Players like AmateurGolf.com's own Kyle Rector stood in awe of Choi just last week, as he shot four rounds in the 60s on his way to a convincing win in 120 degree desert heat at the SCGA Amateur.
"His swing is like a machine," said Rector, who noted that Choi was one of the only player to even attempt to hit practice balls during the heat wave that made playing 18 holes seem like being on the planet Mercury.
After a relatively slow start of 74 as he adjusted to the sea-level weather and ball flight in round one, Choi came back with rounds of 67 and 68 on the Torrey Pines South Course, easily the lowest of the last 36-holes in the field.
Bling, the incoming UCLA freshman, scored most of his birdies in the first two rounds on the par 5s, playing them 7-under. He got two of his birdies on Nos. 9 and 18 today and you guessed it, they are both par 5s. That's 9-under on the tournament vs. his tournament total of 7-under.
Tianling Guan, playing as an 18-year-old a full four years before he stunned the world by making the cut at The Masters at 14, shot 71, allowing him to slide one stroke under the cut line inside the top-50 (which fell at 9-over 225).
The girls 15-18 division continues to reflect the international state of women's golf. First and second round leader Yuka Saso, 17, of the Philippines is looking to go wire-to-wire after a round of 2-under 70 (and tournament total 11-under) on the newly-renovated North Course.
That total gives Saso a three shot cushion over Japan's Nao Ohbayashi, 18.
Ohbayashi picked up a stroke from yesterday by posting 69. She made a charge too, starting the back nine with three-straight birdies but ending with a disappointing bogey on the last.
Only one American, Annick Haczkiewicz of Las Vegas, is in the top-10, her even par total of 216 leaves here
For full field results from all divisions, all the way through the 6-and-under "mini-me" golfers descending on various courses in San Diego County, use the results link and look for the pulldown menu on the upper right to access the division you are interested in.
View results for IMG Junior World
ABOUT THE IMG Junior World
Age Divisions: 15-17, 13-14, 11-12, 9-10, 7-8,
6-under. 72 hole stroke play event for 15-17
division, 54 holes for other divisions. Qualifying
required for 15-17, other divisions. Played at
multiple courses in the San Diego area. Online
application process begins approx. Feb 1.
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