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Lee leads charge by Korean golfers in AJGA event

October 06, 2003|by LARRY YANOS

larryy@herald-mail.com

Korean golfers dominated play this weekend at the American Junior Golf Association Ashworth Post-Season Junior Tournament, held at Black Rock.

Jake An, born and raised in Korea, grabbed Saturday's opening round lead of the 36-hole tournament with a 71 but fellow countryman June Lee rallied from three strokes off the pace Sunday to win the event.

Lee carded a 72 Sunday to claim top honors with a 36-hole total of 146 - one stroke better than Joseph Gross, Jr., of LaPlata, Md.

The two were followed by: Jimmy Arbes of Westfield, N.J., 78-71-149; Tri-State Junior Golf Association member Chris Breed of Waynesboro, Pa., 77-73-150; Aaron Eckstein of Salem, Va., 77-73-150; Shane Brant of Latrobe, Pa., 75-75-150; Ryan Schneiter of Lebanon, Pa., 79-72-151; Nick Pokora of Agawam, Mass., 76-75-151; Kevin Reiber of Waynesboro, Pa., 75-76-151; Matthew Skidmore of Oakland, Md., 79-73-152; John Shicko of Longmeadow, Mass., 76-76-152; and An of Chantilly, Va. 71-81-152.

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The tournament featured 68 golfers, ages 13-to-18, from 11 states.

While An struggled Sunday, Lee turned his game around.

"Today, he improved rhythm and tempo on the practice range and it carried over," Lee's coach Brian Choi said.

Lee added, "My putting was better yesterday but my shot-making skills were better today. The weather was improved but the wind made some shots more difficult."

The 17-year-old student at Robinson High School in Burke, Va., scrambled into championship contention with an eagle on the third hole and added two birdies to his round.

Lee and Gross were tied for the lead after 13 holes - with An just one shot back - but Lee went on to victory despite a bogey on the 18th hole.

"It helped me knowing the score after 13 holes, I was able to concentrate better," Lee said.

Despite the concentration, the match went down to the final hole, where both players found trouble.

Lee sent his tee shot behind a tree and had to wrap his approach around it - sending the shot into a bunker.

After Lee chipped and two-putted for bogey, Gross missed a slippery downhill putt that would have tied him with Lee.

Lee's first AJGA win concludes a 2003 season in which he claimed five victories, including top honors at the Curtis Strange Invitational in Williamsburg, Va., in August. He was also the No. 1-ranked junior in Korea in 2001 and 2002.

Earning two exemptions for future AJGA tournament play with a top-five finish are Gross, Arbes, Breed, Eckstein and Brant.

The 18-year-old Breed enjoyed rounds of 77-73 to finish at 150 and tied for fourth. He led a contingent of five Tri-State Junior Golf Association members.

He was followed by: Reiber of Waynesboro, Pa., 75- 76-151; Andrew Burke of Fayetteville, Pa., 78-76-154; Kellen Seligman, Hagerstown, 80-91-171; and Tyler Straub of Fayetteville, Pa., 92-95-187.

"The course played a little shorter today and I felt I played better," the 18-year-old Breed said. "I had three birdies, on 9, 12 and 17."

Breed graduated from Waynesboro High School this spring and is thinking of enrolling at Hagerstown Community College.

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