Meadow, Jones lead Golfweek Jr. Invitational
ORLANDO, Fla. – Windy weather worked to Stephanie Meadow’s advantage Saturday at the Golfweek Junior Invitational as the 17-year-old shot the only sub-par round of both the boys’ and the girls’ divisions.
Meadow fired a steady 71 at the Reunion Resort’s Legacy Course in Orlando, Fla., that included two bogeys and three birdies. The round got her off to a solid start as she tries to defend her Golfweek Junior Invitational title. Meadow would be the first player in the history of the event to win back-to-back years.
Take 5: Golfweek Junior Invitational
The top of the leaderboard is familiar territory for the petite strawberry blonde, as she started the summer with a victory at the AJGA Cliffs Championship in April and the International Junior Golf Tour’s Tournament of Champions in May.
“I just played really consistent tee to green,” she said. “It could have been a lot better actually. I missed a lot of shortish putts for birdie.”
Meadow, who has committed to Alabama for next fall, is used to windy conditions on the golf course in her home of Antrim, Ireland. A steady iron game was the key to her solid round Saturday.
“I’ve worked a lot on shaping shots so I was able to control my ball which helped a lot in the wind,” she said.
Golfweek Junior Invitational (Rd. 1)
Check out the scenes from Day 1 at the Golfweek Junior Invitational at Reunion Resort in Orlando, Fla.
No. 9 in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings, Meadow is the highest-ranked player in the girls’ division. Yueer Cindy Feng, No. 21, is next on the leaderboard after a first-round 74.
Feng, the 13-year-old who won the AJGA’s Thunderbird International Junior and McDonalds Betsy Rawls Girls’ Championship earlier in the summer, had an up-and-down day as the wind gusted. She had four bogies in five holes starting at the 8th, but pulled it together to birdie Nos. 15 and 16 coming in.
“Putting wasn’t the best,” Feng said, as she headed to the practice green after her round. “Other than that it was alright. It wasn’t the best round.”
Simin Feng, 14, entered the Golfweek Junior Invitational after an appearance at the Hana Bank Kolon Championship last week in Incheon, South Korea, and is one shot behind Cindy. Simin was 1 over after 17 holes, but double-bogeyed 18 after taking two shots to get out of a greenside bunker to shoot 3-over 75.
“I was kind of disappointed because I was expecting myself to play much better than this,” Simin said. “I’m having a tough time right now with my golf game.”
Christina Miller and Brenna Nelson also are tied for third.
In the boys’ division, Kyle Jones led the pack with an even-par 72. Jones, of Snowflake, Ariz., started his round with two birdies in his first three holes. Jones took a double on the par-4 18th, his ninth hole of the day, after getting a “nasty” lie in the rough. He had nine pars coming in.
“I thought the course was playing fair today,” Jones said of the set-up.
Jones said his game felt good in Round 1, despite windy conditions. He missed just three fairways and two greens all day.
“I have the green light to go at pins,” he said of his strategy for Round 2.
Jones has won Player of the Year honors in both the Junior Golf Association of Arizona and the Southwest Section Junior Tour.
Jordan Janico, of Duluth, Ga., and Mike Miller, of Brewster, N.Y., were tied for second at 1-over 73.
Miller played consistently, following a single birdie on the front with two bogeys on the back nine. Janico matched his three birdies with four bogeys. He struggled on the par 3s, bogeying three of the four. Janico, who holds the Southeastern Junior Golf Tour’s 18-hole scoring record of 129, has committed to Vanderbilt for next fall.