Wongluekiet Leads Girls Junior Amateur

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1999 Girls' Junior Amateur Champion Aree Wongluekiet shot a 3-under-par 67, the only sub-par round of the day, to lead the 156-player field on the first day of stroke play at this year's event at Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills, Ka.

'I played really well. I hit the ball really well and I was putting well, which helped a lot,' said the 15-year-old, who captured the title two years ago making her the youngest champion in USGA history at 13 years, three months and seven days. 'Every year, the Girls' Junior always has the strongest field and the course is always difficult. You have to hit the fairways. If you do that you'll be OK. It's not extremely long, but it can get difficult if you don't hit the fairways and greens.'
 
Trailing Wongluekiet by three strokes were 15-year-old Whitney Wade and 14-year-old Amanda Blumenherst, who carded even par 70s.
 
'I'm really confident in my putting,' said Wade, who made 18 pars. 'I kept it in play like I'm supposed to.'
 
Seven players were four strokes back at 1-over-par 71, including 17-year-old Christina Kim, who made the cut at the 2001 Women's Open.
 
2000 medalist Erica Blasberg led a group of five players, who shot 2-over-par 72.
 
Wongluekiet carded six birdies and three bogeys and played the more difficult back nine in 3-under-par 32. Her back nine score was the lowest of the day.
 
A native of Thailand, Wongluekiet is the younger of a set of identical twins. Her sister, Naree, shot a 7-over-par 77.
 
The Girls' Junior is one of 13 championships conducted by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
 
After a second day of stroke play, the field will be reduced to 64 players for match play. Two rounds of match play will be played on Wednesday and Thursday. The semifinals are scheduled for Friday morning and the championship final is at 9 a.m. Saturday.
 
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