PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Emiliano Grillo of Bradenton, Fla., earned medalist honors following stroke play at the Polo Golf Junior Classic for the third year in a row. Grillo's 3-under-par 68 put him two strokes ahead of the field and earned him the No. 1 seed heading into match play. With a 3-under-par 69, Moriya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand, extended her first-round lead to claim medalist honors in the Girls Division.
The Polo Golf Junior Classic, which has been conducted annually since 1978, marks the first tournament of the American Junior Golf Association's 2011 season. The 156-player invitation-only field is made up of 78 boys and 78 girls, ages 12-18, from 26 states and 10 foreign countries. Former champions include Stewart Cink (1989), Trevor Immelman (1995), Tiger Woods (1991), Paula Creamer (2002), Grace Park (1994, 1996) and Morgan Pressel (2004).
During Tuesday's second round, the Boys Division played the Champion Course (7,147 yards, par 71), while the Girls Division played the Haig Course (6,275 yards, par 72). The cut in the Boys Division fell at 148, and the Girls Division cut was at 152.
Grillo, a two-time first-team Rolex Junior All-American, began the round tied in second place. With birdies on his first two holes of the day, he made his way to the top of the leaderboard and finished stroke play at 6-under-par 137. Grillo said strong play with his irons was crucial to carding five birdies on the day. He will play Trey Valentine of Melbourne, Fla., in the first match Wednesday and is looking to improve on his 2009 match play finish.
“I just want to keep the ball on the fairway and greens and try to make some putts as always,” Grillo said of his match play strategy. “Last year I got to the quarterfinals. I had to putt like I'm always playing with the winner.”
Other first-team Rolex Junior All-Americans qualifying for match play include defending champion Oliver Schniederjans (No. 4 seed), Patrick Rodgers (No. 6), Anthony Paolucci (No. 11), Michael Johnson (No. 15) and Beau Hossler (No. 22).
In the Girls Division, Jutanugarn began the day on No. 10 and posted six birdies on the round, including three in a row on Nos. 11-13 to increase her lead to three shots and complete stroke play at 3-under-par 141.
“I think today I played okay,” said Jutanugarn, who is ranked No. 14 in the Polo Golf Rankings. “On the front nine I had three birdies and on the back nine I had one double and two birdies. I think yesterday I hit irons better than today but I had an eight on No. 11 yesterday.”
Jutanugarn is making her first appearance at the Polo Golf Junior Classic following two top-five finishes at AJGA Invitationals in 2010. She will take on Ashlan Ramsey of Milledgeville, Ga., in the first round of match play.
First-team Rolex Junior All-Americans earning a spot in match play were Kristen Park (No. 6 seed), Shannon Aubert (No. 9), Doris Chen (No. 10), Alison Lee (No. 17) and Yueer Cindy Feng (No. 25).