Austin’s Nolen among leaders at Woodlands’ AJGA event
THE WOODLANDS—Austin Westlake’s Stratton Nolen on Tuesday shot a 1-under 71 in the first round of the American Junior Golf Association’s inaugural Signsational Signs Junior tournament to grab a share of fifth place in the 54-hole, stroke-play event.
Three shots separate Nolen from tournament leader Vincent Martino of Southlake. Martino shot a 4-under 68 to lead the field by one shot.
Nolen, the reigning Texas Legends Junior Tour Player of the Year for the 15-18 division, birdied the seventh, 11th and 13th holes at The Woodlands Country Club’s Gary Player Course. Nolen, still just 15 years old, suffered a double-bogey on the par-3 eighth hole.
“My goal today was all about tightening up my short game,” Nolen said. “My ball-striking is good, I just needed to work on my wedges … I thought I did great with it today. I’m not at all mad about the way I played.”
The Austin Westlake junior played with 13-year-old Brad Dalke, who made AJGA history recently by becoming the youngest player to win an AJGA Invitational. Dalke, who lives in McKinney, won the Thunderbird Invitational in Phoenix over Memorial Day weekend.
Nolen said he was satisfied with his position after the first round. He said the opening 18 holes were mostly about getting his “foot in the door” and putting himself in a position to win the tournament in the next two rounds.
He added that he enjoys playing in big events away from home and that he feels a responsibility to represent Austin when he does so.
“To have guys like Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite and a lot of others to come out of Austin, it means a lot to me to represent my hometown,” Nolen said. “When I tee it up, I’m playing for myself and my family, but I’m also playing for Austin.”
Lake Travis junior Klein Klotz, fresh off his fifth-place individual showing at the UIL 4A State Golf Championships, shot a 4-over 76 in the first round of the Signsational Signs Junior. Klotz helped lead Lake Travis to the 4A state title in May.
In the girls’ division, Austin’s Christine Lin, who will be a senior at Westwood High School in the fall, shot 1-over 73 and sits in fifth place after the first round.
Maddie Szeryk of Allen. leads the girls after a stellar 3-under 69 In all, 96 players are competing in the first-year event at The Woodlands Country Club. There are players from six U.S. states and four countries, including Mexico, Canada, France and Brazil.
Play resumes Wednesday with the second round at 7:15 a.m. The final round is set for Thursday at the same time.
- Mark Button, Texas Links Magazines
See the tournament website here: http://www.ajga.org/MicroSites/index3.asp?TN=201127