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Young at heart: Kang leads after first round of stroke play at U.S. Girls Junior

Paolucci, Arboleda among local contenders in boys tournament.

BY ELI MILLERPublished: July, 2010

Danielle Kang may already be in college, but she’s still eligible to compete in the U.S. Girls Junior Championship at the Country Club of North Carolina.

And through 18 holes of stroke play, the 17-year-old Kang is taking full advantage of the opportunity with a 5-under-par 67 Monday that is three clear of the field in Pinehurst.

A Thousand Oaks resident, Kang graduated early from Westlake High School to join the women’s golf team at Pepperdine University this past spring. She made an immediate impression, winning the Bruin Wave Invitational in only her second start and recording top-20 finishes in five of her six appearances.

Kang was so instrumental in the Waves’ success that she was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year with less than a full season under her belt.

The U.S. Girls Junior has 36 holes of stroke play, with the top 64 finishers advancing to match play.

Plenty of Southern Californians are in the field:

• Buena Park’s Kristen Park, the only past champion competing (she won in 2007), opened with a 1-over-par 72 and is in a three-way tie for ninth place. Park won the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions earlier this summer.

• Three locals — Elisabeth Bernabe (Anaheim Hills), Veronica Valerio (Temecula) and Beverly Vatananugulkit (Cerritos) — shot 5-over 77 and are part of a logjam in 27th place.

• Fresh off an appearance in the U.S. Women’s Open, Valencia’s Alison Lee opened with a 79 and is tied for 55th. Also posting that score was Danielle Frasier (Encinitas) who will join the women’s golf team at Stanford University this fall.

Visit the USGA website for a full leaderboard.

The boys are playing simultaneously in the U.S. Junior Championship at Egypt Valley Country Club in Ada, Mich. Defending champion Jordan Spieth is one of three players tied for the lead after one round of stroke play.

As is the case with the girls championship, the top 64 players after 36 holes of stroke play advance to match play.

Notable Southern Californians in the field:

• The leading local players are Anthony Paolucci (Del Mar) and Anton Arboleda (La Cañada), who both shot even-par to share 31st place with six other competitors. Paolucci, an upcoming senior at La Jolla Country Day School, has had a stellar summer that’s included wins at a pair of American Junior Golf Association events. Arboleda is a talented player headed to the UCLA men’s golf team this fall.

• Matthew Fliss of Bellflower is tied for 39th after a 1-over 73.

Visit the USGA website for a full leaderboard.


Paolucci, Park win AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions

Players of the Month: Danielle Kang, Niall Platt