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New York State Golf Association's Junior Championships - Day 1

Posted August 3rd, 2011 3:30pm

 The 55th Junior/Boys and 48th Girls Amateur Championships are 36-hole events, and to win, every player understands it takes great play from the 1st to the 36th. And yes, Nicole Morales needs to play 18 more strong holes to win her first Girls Championship – but she made quite the statement with her first 18.
Morales put on a clinic, and shot an eye-catching one-under 71 at McGregor Links on the first day of the Junior/Boys and Girls Am. The 71 was the lowest score by any player, regardless of division, and also gives Morales the largest first day lead of any division: seven strokes over Danielle Fuss and Chelsea D’ Antonio. Morales played at another level from the start. She had three birdies on the front nine with only one bogey. On the more difficult back nine she had three bogeys, but two more birdies to help herself out.
When the round was over, there were still shots Morales wanted back.
“I thought I played really well,” said the 15-year-old Morales, who will be entering her sophomore year at John Jay High School in the fall. “I hit a long ball, so I didn’t take advantage of the short holes. I wish I had made a couple more putts but that’s life.”
The narrowness of McGregor meant there was an OB lurking at every hole, and Morales had to play some nifty shots to avoid major trouble.
“Number six, a par five, I went into the trees,” said Morales “I had to hit this tricky shot around about
five trees, I’m not sure how I did it. I hit it to about 130, stuck it into within three feet and made birdie.”
Naturally, Morales can’t wait for the final half of the tournament to start.
”I was playing really well the practice round, I had a really good vibe,” said Morales, who had never played at McGregor until the practice. “This course is in such good condition. It was just a pleasure to play, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow”
Fuss – the runner-up at this year’s Women’s Am at Rome Country Club – and D’ Antonio, were the only
other Girls to break 80. They will join Morales in the final group. Two-time defending champion Bailey Cocca shot an 83.
The Junior Championship (Ages 15-17) is wide-open this year, with last year’s champion Josh Holling exceeding age eligibility. Everyone their best shot on day one, and when the dust cleared it was 15-year- old Jack Gianniny that was on top with 18 more to play.
This is Gianniny’s first Junior Am, but the Country Club of Rochester golfer got a taste of big tournament golf earlier in the year at the Men’s Am at Oak Hill. He shot a 72 on day one before faltering the second day and missing the cut. He hopes to follow this 72 with something even lower tomorrow.
“I’m just going to try to do the same thing tomorrow,” said Gianniny, who carded four of his five birdies on the back. “I played pretty consistent. I drained some nice long putts, but I still had two three-putts on the back nine.”
Even with the three-putts, Gianniny holds a two-stroke lead over Aiden Fuller and Patrick Milkovich.
Those three will make up the final group tomorrow.
Much like Morales, a positive for Gianniny was avoiding McGregor’s looming trees. Not that the possibility of an OB was out of his mind completely.
“I had some thoughts (about the narrow fairways),” admitted Gianniny after his round. “In my practice round I put a couple out of bounds on some holes. Today I was striking it out there. That led to a lot of greens and not a lot of putts.”
Sounds like the formula to success.
In the Boys Division (Ages 14 & Under), Cedar Lake’s Alec Bard and Crag Burn Golf Club’s Brad Belote shot five-over par 77s to share the 18 hole lead.
Bard got to the 77 with help from three birdies. Belote had two birdies, as well as the only eagle during the morning rounds on the 465 yard par-five 12th.
Belote, who will be entering his first year at Lancaster High School in the fall, credited his low score to accuracy off the tee, and deft-touch on the greens.
“My drives were really good and my putting was really good,” said Belote. “I was able to avoid most of (the trees).”
And Belote came in with a certain score in mind – and he turned out to be spot on.
“Going into today my goal was to break 80,” said Belote. “I thought that would be pretty good.”
Justin Theilig sits in third place after 18 holes, trailing the co-leaders by a stroke after a 78. Theilig had a nice front nine that included two birdies, but couldn’t find consistency, and alternated between par and bogey the entire back nine.
Bard, Belote and Theilig will make up the final boys group tomorrow. has complete parings and tee times for day two, as well as day one’s photo gallery


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