Vu, Holen lead Golfweek Junior
Lilia Vu didn’t let the age factor get in her head Saturday at the Golfweek Junior Series event at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Ariz. As an 11-year-old playing among teenagers, Vu set a goal and then went out and chased it, resulting in a 2-over 73 that left her with the first-round lead.
“I wanted to shoot even or maybe 1 or 2 under – wanted to be the best as possible out here,” Vu said.
The Fountain Valley, Calif., native came a little short of an under-par round, but threw in four birdies on the day to help keep her score low, including one on the par-3 second hole.
“I hit the ball high to let it stop near the hole,” Vu said. “The slope was going left, so I aimed right and hit it to 5 feet and made the putt.”
Vu also rolled in a 25-footer on 13 for a birdie. She carded nothing higher than a bogey on the round, and considered the day successful because of good putting and a high number of greens hit.
Vu leads Morgan Thompson by one shot. Brittany Mai and Sun Park are tied for third at 5-over 76.
In the boys’ competition, J.J. Holen was the sole competitor to get in the red for the tournament, shooting 1-under 70 for a two-shot lead.
On a scorching hot day in the desert, the 17-year-old from Castaic, Calif., carded four birdies and 12 pars. He had a bogey at No. 12 and a double bogey at the par-4 fifth.
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“This was my first time playing Longbow, so I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect,” said Holen, who is undecided on what college to attend next fall.
Going into the tournament, Holen’s strategy was to aim for the middle of the greens. Smart play combined with a few long putts helped Holen record the low round of the day.
Holes like No. 16 also helped Holen’s cause. After sticking a 6-iron to 18 feet on the par 3, Holen droppped the putt for birdie. There were a few other surprises in the round, too.
“On No. 1, I hit driver, hybrid over the green on a 600-yard par 5,” Holen said. “It was just off the green, chipped to 2 feet and made birdie.”
Holen’s performance also might have been aided by his familiarity with the landscape.
“I play in Palm Springs a lot, and there is plenty of desert golf there, which I like,” he said.
Kyle Jones trails Holen by two shots after a first-round 1-over 72. Jones began the day with two bogeys, but rebounded with birdies on four of the next eight holes.
Evan Markley is two shots back at 3-over 74, and three players are tied for fourth at 75.