Junior Boys

Chun leads Golfweek Jr.; 2 share girls’ lead

Minami Levonowich holds a share of the lead after the first round of the Golfweek Junior Series event at Wilbrook Plantation.
Minami Levonowich holds a share of the lead after the first round of the Golfweek Junior Series event at Wilbrook Plantation. ( Golfweek Staff )

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Golfweek Junior Series

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PAWLEY’S ISLAND, S.C. – A silent killer prowls the fairways this weekend at the Golfweek Junior Series event at Wilbrook Plantation.

South Korean Sam Chun, a player of admittedly few words even in his own native tongue, quietly torched Willbrook’s par-72 layout Saturday with a near-flawless 68, grabbing the first-round lead. Chun and Dylan Healey, of Franklin, Tenn., were the only two players in the field to break par. Healey fired a bogey-free 71 and is in position to grab one of two qualifying spots for the season-ending Golfweek Junior Invitationals to be played at Reunion Resort near Orlando, Fla., and Troon North in Scottsdale, Arizona.

For Chun, who has lived in the United States for only eight months, Saturday’s round was a loud and bold statement of his arrival on the national level. On the opening hole, Chun stuck a 7-iron to a foot and made birdie. He would follow that up with another birdie on the second hole, then birdies at Nos. 11 and 13. His only blemish came at the 419-yard par-4 14th, where he would make bogey. He made up the lost shot with a birdie on the closing hole.

“(I have a) quiet confidence,” Chun said through an interpreter. “I just focus on golf now and go for low scores. I just want to win everything.”

Chun resides in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., and is in the United States apart from his family and friends in a virtual unknown and unfamiliar place. But the golf course is where Chun is at home, anyway.

“The driver was on today,” Chun said. “I only missed two fairways and I missed three or four birdie putts inside six feet.”

Chun’s closest competitor, Healey, was a model of consistency in notching 17 pars on the day. Healy hit 14 fairways and 17 greens in regulation.

“I lipped out so many birdie putts today,” Healy said. “I hit a lot of putts well; they just didn’t fall.”

Healy will be paired with Chun in today’s final round and he said he looks forward to the challenge.

“I love the competition,” Healy said. “My swing just feels great. The second half of the summer was really good. I’m confident that I can come out here and play well.”

On the girls side, Trisha Witherby and Minami Levonowich each shot 75 to share the lead in a three-player field. They are vying for one qualifying spot.

Witherby jump-started her round with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, the latter with an approach shot to 2 inches. Those two birdies brought her round to even par before she stubmled with three bogeys on the back nine.

“My short game was off today,” said Witherby, who resides in Richmond, Ind. “Other than that, I was hitting the ball pretty well. I will work on it (Saturday afternoon) and be a lot better at it tomorrow.”

Levonowich abandoned a grip change she had been working on with her coach, returning instead to her comfort zone on Saturday.

“My coach changed my grip to a weaker position and I was awful,” Levonowich said. “I went with what feels normal and I was happy with how I played.”

Levonowich double-bogeyed the par-4 second and bogeyed the 10th before off-setting scores of birdie and bogey at the 13th and 14th holes.

Levonowich and Witherby will end the deadlock with Sunday’s final round, set to start at 8:30 a.m. The final group in the boys division is set to tee off at 9:15 a.m.


Video

18 holes with Trisha Witherby