LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – On a difficult day at Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course, the foreign contingent managed to have plenty of success.
With Taiwan’s Ching Tzu Chen leading the way, the non-U.S. lot dominated the top of the leaderboard after 18 holes at the Golfweek International Junior Invitational.
Only six of 54 players broke par on Day 1, with just four posting a sub-70 score. Chen used five birdies to shoot 4-under 67, moving her one ahead of Japan’s Rino Sasaki with 18 holes to go.
Kotona Izumida, also of Japan, and Lauren Waidner, of Fleming Island, Fla., both sit 2 under in a tie for third.
Those sub-par scores, though, don’t overshadow the casualties from Saturday in Disney. That would be eight rounds in the 80s and one round in the 90s. Yes, more players shot 80 or higher than 70 or lower.
“It was a bit windier today than yesterday,” said Tiana Cruz, who opened in 84. “I didn’t expect that.”
Among the survivors, the most dangerous contender may be Youngin Chun.
Chun sits 18th in Golfweek‘s junior rankings and has a litany of top finishes in big events to prove her resume. There’s a win earlier this year at the AJGA Under Armour/Hunter Mahan Championship, a 36-hole lead at the AJGA ANNIKA Invitational (which eventually ended in a fourth-place finish), and then there’s the three other top-10s in AJGA events in 2016.
Chun, a class of 2018 prospect, cooled off to a 1-under 70 after starting birdie-birdie, but considering her pedigree (and that she’s the highest ranked player in the field), a comeback could easily be in the cards.
Michaela Morard, Golfweek‘s No. 19, struggled to a 5-over 76 and sits T-23. Morard, a 2020 prospect of Huntsville, Ala., committed to Alabama at the age of 14 earlier this year.
The second, and final, round of the girls’ side of the Golfweek International Junior Invitational will commence Sunday off split tees from 7 a.m. to 8:12 a.m.
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