Playing on the difficult layout of Karsten Creek, Oliver Schniederjans opened with a 4-under 68 to take the first-round lead Saturday at the Ping Invitational in Stillwater, Okla.
Schniederjans, winner of the 2009 Polo Junior Classic and runner-up at last year’s Ping Invite, made five birdies on a flawless front nine to shoot 31. He leads 2009 U.S. Junior champ Jordan Spieth by one shot and Yi Keun Chang by two.
“It was probably one of the best nines I’ve ever played,” said Schniederjans, No. 2 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings. “I hit the ball great and putted great. I normally do better on harder golf courses because I’ve been good around the greens and saving pars and par putting. I think that’s what helped me out here.”
Tied for sixth place at 1-over 73 is defending champion Emiliano Grillo, last month’s Junior Players Champion Michael Johnson, Gavin Hall and Wyndham Clark.
On the girls’ side, Kyung Kim holds a commanding lead after Round 1 thanks to an opening 5-under 67 that set the course record at Karsten Creek.
Starting on the back nine, Kim birdied six of her first eight holes, tossing in a par at No. 11 and a bogey at No. 13. She turned at 5-under 31 before matching two birdies with two bogies on the front nine.
“On the (first) nine, I stuck almost everything to within three feet for easy birdies,” Kim said. “I almost made a hole-in-one on the par-3 15th hole.”
Kim, of Chandler, Ariz., is gunning for her fourth AJGA title, and her second in 2010 after winning the Ping Phoenix Junior in June. The 16-year-old has yet to win an invitational title, with her best invitational finish coming at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, where she was third.
Kim, No. 11 in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings, is hoping to avenge a T-26 at this event in 2008. She didn’t play in 2009.
“Because I played so bad I didn’t want to come back,” Kim said. “I am kind of surprised. I didn’t think I was going to shoot this low.”
Sisters Moriya (70) and Ariya (71) Jutanugarn, of Bangkok, Thailand, are Kim’s closest pursuers. The Jutanugarns are playing in their first tournament in the United States since the U.S. Women’s Amateur at the beginning of August.
Lindsay Weaver, of Scottsdale, Ariz., is at even-par 72 while Tiffany Lim, of San Jose, Calif., and Shannon Aubert, of Orlando, Fla., share fifth another shot back.
– The AJGA contributed to this report.