Several big names put themselves in position Monday to advance to match play at the AJGA’s Polo Golf Junior Classic, while two were in danger of going home early.
Emiliano Grillo, No. 4 in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings, carded a 5-under 67 at the PGA National’s Haig Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., to tie for the boys’ lead with Oliver Schniederjans, Curtis Thompson and Tanner Kesterson. Top-ranked Jordan Spieth (69) was two shots back and second-ranked Jeffery Kang (70) was tied for 14th.
Grillo was the only player in the field to go bogey free in the first round. The Buenos Aires, Argentina, native also won the Ping Invitational last month and earned medalist honors at the Polo Junior last year.
“I haven’t changed my game at all from the Ping Invitational,” said Grillo, who made four back-nine birdies on Monday. “I just look to keep the ball in play and go low on the shorter course.”
In the girls’ division, Doris Chen shot 68 on the Champions Course at PGA National and held a one-stoke lead over Casey Grice. Chen tied for fifth at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship in June and tied for seventh at the Rolex Tournament of Champions in July.
“I had five birdie putts under 12 feet and was able to capitalize,” she said.
A group of six others were within three shots of the lead, including fifth-ranked Jessica Korda and seventh-ranked Stephanie Meadow, who won the Golfweek Junior Invitational on Nov. 8.
The top 32 boys and girls will advance to match play following Tuesday’s second round of stroke-play qualifying.
Two of junior golf’s best will need to rally to get there.
U.S. Girls’ Junior champ Alexis Thompson, the top-ranked girl in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings, shot 75 and was tied 25th with seven other players.
Cory Whitsett, who won the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur, was tied for 34th after 73.