Trusted Choice Big I Junior Classic: Cut at 11-over

MADISON, Miss. (Aug. 2, 2011) – After two rounds, three players are tied atop the Boys Division and two share the lead in the Girls Division of the Trusted Choice® Big “I” National Championship. The 159-player combined field was cut to 74 at Reunion Golf & Country Club in Madison, Miss., Tuesday.

The cut in the Boys Division left 56 players at 11-over-par or better. The Girls Division was pared to 28 players at 19-over-par or better.

Austin Smotherman of Loomis, Calif., (68-73—141) did all he could to maintain his first-round lead while several players came within striking distance. When all was said and done, two players joined him atop the leaderboard at 3-under-par for the tournament.

“I kind of had to scramble a bit today to get myself back in the game,” he said. “But I shot 73 and am still tied for the lead, so I’m happy about that…. I knew I had to perform today, but I had fun.”

Playing alongside Smotherman, Trevor Cone of Concord, N.C., (73-68—141), who will play golf at Virginia Tech in the fall, carded four birdies and no bogeys for the low round of the day.

“I played about as well as I could today,” he said. “I got lucky a couple of times, though. I made some long putts and got up and down a lot. It’s big to be in the lead.”

J.T. Poston of Hickory, N.C., an entering freshman at Western Carolina University, birdied two of his last three holes to steal his share of the lead with a two-day total of 72-69—141.

“I figured two or 3-under-par would get me near the top, but I didn’t know I would be in the lead,” he said. “I’m going to try not to think about the lead, though, and just try to play my own game.”

Jon Weiss of Sumter, S.C., is one shot off the lead with a tournament score of 72-70—142, and Will Bishop of Lexington, Ken., is two shots back at 71-72—143.

While there are several players vying for control in the Boys’ field, two have separated themselves from the pack in the Girls. Taylor Totland of Tinton Falls, N.J., (69-75—144) extended her first-day lead to six strokes at one point during Tuesday’s round, but finished with a triple-bogey on 18 to complete her round at even par for the tournament, knotted with Ally McDonald (72-72—144) of Fulton, Miss. Seven strokes separate them from the third-place contestant.

“I was playing pretty well up until the last hole,” Totland said. “All day my swing wasn’t at its best. I’m just going to try not to get ahead of myself and take it one shot at a time.”

McDonald, who will be a freshman on the golf team at Mississippi State University in the fall, is in familiar territory having finished in second place in last year’s tournament. After Tuesday’s round, she said second place is not good enough this year.

“I really want to finish a bit stronger this year,” she said. “Second place just isn’t going to do me justice. This will be my last junior golf tournament, too, so I want to end on a good note.”

Kelly Hartigan of Lake Orion, Mich., (79-72—151) and Emily Haas of Nicholasville, Ken., (75-76—151) are tied for third place at +7 for the tournament.

Third- and final-round tee times will be at 7:30 am off the Nos. 1 and 10 tees Wednesday and Thursday. Leaders in the Boys and Girls divisions will tee off at 9:27 and 9:36 a.m., respectively. An awards ceremony will immediately follow final-round play.

Renowned as the nation’s largest junior stroke-play golf tournament, the Trusted Choice® Big “I” National Championship is one of the longest running junior golf events in the country. This year’s field features top junior golfers from 36 states who advanced from qualifying tournaments held around the nation. Previous participants include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Kellee Booth and Grace Park.

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ABOUT THE Big I National Championship

72-Hole Championship with a cut after 36 holes. Low 54 boys and 27 girls and all ties will make the cut.

Some 4,000 boys and girls attempt to qualify every year to participate in the 167 player field. The Trusted Choice Big "I" has qualifying opportunities in more than 44 states. If not exempt, you must attempt to qualify through your state of residence.

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