NICHOLASVILLE, KY (June 29, 2021) – The goal of the Barbasol Junior Championship from its onset was to create a world-class competition for the best junior golfers. If the first round was any indication, that mission has been met. And first round leader Preston Summerhays had a big role in that. The Arizonan shot 64 (-8) at Keene Trace – Keene Run on Tuesday to set the stage for a four-stroke lead after day one with two rounds to go.
Beginning his day on the 10th hole, Summerhays made an early birdie on the 11th but sank an eagle on the 17th to really get his round cooking. He then proceeded to play Keene Run’s front nine in 31 (-5), distancing himself from a crowded pack of chasers behind him.
It was an on-brand performance from Summerhays, who won the most recent edition of the U.S. Junior Amateur in 2019 and competed in last year’s U.S. Open, where he nearly made the cut. Considered one of the top amateur golfers in the world, let alone one of the top juniors, he successfully matched his reputation on Tuesday given his performance.
“This is my first time in Kentucky and I like it here,” Summerhays said. “It’s a bit more humid than I’m used to in Arizona so I was sweating a lot more today than I usually do. But the golf course is great; the greens are rolling well, the rough is thick and the whole course is firm so it makes it difficult to keep the ball where you want it. Last year’s U.S. Open gave me a ton of confidence because I walked out of Winged Foot knowing that was probably the toughest setup I’ll ever play, and since I showed myself I could handle it I left there feeling really good about my game. It was fun to compete against the best players in the world and I’m motivated to have an opportunity like that again, so winning this week to advance to the Barbasol Championship would be awesome.”
Four players shot 68 (-4) on Tuesday to hold a tie for second place going into the second round. Oakley Gee, Andrew Goodman, Cayden Pope, and Baron Szeto are those closest to Summerhays. Each of them possesses their own assets on the golf course that could help them hunt down the leader, but their various backgrounds add to what makes this event special. Each comes from a different state, with their homes ranging from California to right down the street in Lexington. And with two rounds still to play, each knows that things are far from over.
“I felt like I had a lot of control over my golf ball today,” Gee described. “This is a course where if you’re not in control approaching the green it can be tough. You have to be on point with each swing, especially given how firm it is, but if you hit fairways and greens you will score well out here.”
“It’s a different experience playing in Kentucky compared to Oklahoma,” Goodman explained. “The rough is certainly longer here than I’m used to, but the golf course in perfect shape. Preston played an incredible round today; the golf course probably played easy today, but not as easy as he made it look. You just have to keep your foot on the gas and hope he makes a mistake or two these next couple rounds.”
“I had some people following me today which I like since it gives me more motivation to play well,” Pope said speaking of his close proximity to the facility. “I know how some of these greens will react to different shots and my caddie has played here a bunch, so it’s reassuring to have some knowledge of how to attack this golf course.”
“This has been a great experience so far,” Szeto said. “Kentucky suits me since it’s very relaxing, but this is a very good golf course. The firmness makes it tough and I just need to focus on playing against the golf course rather than any specific player. Obviously, Preston is one of the best juniors in the world right now, so competing against him is a fun challenge, but I just need to maintain focus on how I’m playing.”
Fourteen other players had an under-par round on Tuesday, making it nineteen golfers who are within seven shots of Summerhays’ lead. For Wednesday’s second round, players will be in the same groups they were on Tuesday, however, those who played in the morning on Tuesday will play in the afternoon on Wednesday and vice-versa.
NOTES & STATS
- Two eagles were made in Tuesday’s play. One was Summerhays’ on the 17th while Carson Enright made the other on the par-five 2nd on his way to being placed T9.
- The two hardest holes on the golf course came consecutively as the par-four 14th and par-three 15th gave players the most difficulty on Tuesday. The 14th’s stroke-to-par average was +0.61 while 15 closely followed suit at +0.56.
- The par-five 8th was the easiest hole of the round by a considerable margin. More than one-third of the field made birdie there today, helping it play -0.24.
- The front nine was much easier than the back nine in today’s round. The front averaged a score of 37.19 while the back required a shot and a half more at 38.77.
- In total, the round one scoring average was 75.96.
The Barbasol Junior Championship will have full coverage of the competition throughout the week on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. Additionally, Junior Golf Live will provide streaming of the tournament during both the second and third rounds.