BRISTOL, Va. — On a day when some of the best junior golfers in the nation were on display, it was the golf course that came out on top.
Only six boys and one girl broke par Tuesday in the opening round of the American Junior Golf Association championship at The Virginian Golf Club.
Jay Vandeventer, who is a member at The Virginian, and Max Markley from Lookout Mountain, Ga., lead the boys competition with 3-under-par 69s. Knoxville’s Davis Bunn and Ralph Blasey of Kensington, Md., are tied for third at 70. Mookie DeMoss from Duluth, Ga., and Alex Huffman of Myersville, Md., are deadlocked in fifth at 71.
Elizabeth Breed, who hails from Waynesboro, Pa., heads the girls field with her stellar 2-under 70.
Three players are tied for second at 73 — Melissa Edmonson from Coral Gables, Fla.; Kendall Martindale of Jefferson City, Tenn.; and Emily Wright from Mason, Ohio.
Vandeventer, who graduated from the Baylor School in Chattanooga and will play golf at the University of Tennessee in the fall, got up and down a couple of times early in his round to save par.
“I was pretty steady most of the day,’’ Vandeventer said. “Although this is my home course, it plays so different under tournament conditions.
“These are some of the best players in the world out here, so you have to develop a positive attitude about your game and play smart.’’
Markley, who attends McCallie School in Chattanooga, didn’t drive the ball as well as he wanted but did make four birdies and an eagle-3 on the par-5, sixth hole.
“I made a lot of putts today,’’ Markley said. “My goal was to hit the fairways because the rough is so tough out there. Although I didn’t do as well as I wanted off the tee, I was on fire with my putter.’’
Breed only missed two greens all day, but they were costly. She bogied both of those holes but made up for it with four birdies.
“The course is playing long which I think is to my advantage,’’ said Breed, who has three top-10 finishes in her five AJGA appearances. “I had short irons into most of the holes giving me plenty of birdie opportunities. I’m very pleased with my round.’’
Martindale, who will be a junior at Jefferson County High School this fall, recently won the Tennessee Women’s Amateur.
“My game was solid today but I couldn’t make any putts,’’ Martindale said. “The greens were rolling well, I just couldn’t read them.’’
Edmonson started her day a bit shaky with two early bogeys but fought back with three birdies, including a long one on the par-5 18th.
“I love this golf course,’’ Edmonson said. “I’m from the Miami area, so this elevation is really great.’’
Copious notes on each hole after her practice round seemed to pay off for Edmonson.
“I dissect every hole and make a plan,” she said. “Everything went according to that plan most of the day.’’
Local players in the field faired well.
Jonesborough’s Zach Botts is tied for seventh at 72 while Church Hill’s Lucas Armstrong and Kingsport’s Nick York are tied for 19th with 75s.
Lacie York is tied for 11th in the girls division after a 77.
Because of the forecast for inclement weather today, the field of 130 boys and girls from 21 states, Canada and China will tee off in a shotgun start at 9 a.m. After today’s round a cut will be made and the qualifiers will advance to Thursday’s final round.