THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Gabriel Lench of Lake Mary, Florida, fired a 9-under-par 63 to lead the CB&I Boys Championship at Carlton Woods and in the process, set the Fazio competitive course scoring record.
The Lake Mary High School senior also tied an 18-hole tournament scoring record set by Rolex Junior Player of the Year Matthew Rosenfeld in 2001. The score is the tournament’s lowest since The Club at Carlton Woods began hosting the CB&I Boys Championship in 2009. Bobby Wyatt and Cody Proveaux each shot 65 in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Begun in 1987, the CB&I Boys Championship is the longest-running boys-only event on the AJGA schedule, and features past champions including Jordan Spieth (2011), Rickie Fowler (2006), Tiger Woods (1992), David Duval (1989) and Jim Furyk (1987). The week’s field of 72 boys features 17 of the top 25 boys in the Polo Golf Rankings and players from 19 states, China, Japan, Norway, Mexico, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam.
Lench used a sequence of four consecutive birdies (Nos. 5-8) to get into contention, fighting for the lead with Jamie Cheatham of Rancho Santa Fe, California. The duo battled back-and-forth over the next six holes until Lench birdied Nos. 11 and 12 to go to 7-under-par and take the solo lead by three strokes.
“I kept on going,” Lench said. “I didn’t want to look back on anything. I just wanted to keep making birdies.”
Lench is committed to Liberty University and appears for the first time at the CB&I Boys Championship at Carlton Woods, just his third AJGA Invitational event. Lench, who is No. 19 in the Polo Golf Rankings, finished fourth in the October 2014 PING Invitational and said his goal was to earn his first AJGA victory.
“Just to be playing with such talented kids is a really big test for me. Leading makes me feel really confident. I’m going to college next year so for getting ready for the next few years ahead, this is the best way to do it.”
Cheatham and S.M. Lee of Buford, Georgia, finished the day 4-under-par 68 to play in the leader group. Cheatham, a senior at Torrey Pines High School, made seven birdies in his first appearance at the CB&I Boys Championship at Carlton Woods. Cheatham won the 2014 ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior and recently finished runner-up at the January Puerto Rico Junior Open presented by EaglesDream Golf Academy.
Lee won the 2014 E-Z-Go Vaughn Taylor Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf, where he and Lench shared their last appearances in a leader group. Lee made his charge up the leader-board during four birdies on the back nine, including back-to-back on Nos. 17 and 18.
Alone in fourth is Riley Casey of Abilene, Texas, at 3-under-par 69. Birdies on Nos. 3 and 4 helped Casey hold the lead early in the first round with Cheatham and Lench. The high school junior is a Rolex Junior All-American playing for the first time in the CB&I Boys Championship at Carlton Woods.
Tied for fifth at 2-under-par 70 are Jacob Solomon of Dublin, California, and Eric Ghim of Glendale, Arizona. Ryan Grider of Lewisville, Texas, Rolex Junior Player of the Year Sam Burns of Shreveport, Louisiana, and Donnie Trosper of Canton, Michigan, sit in seventh at 1-under-par 71, while nine players sit at even-par 72 for tenth.