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Nowak tops Junior Masters; Shoots par despite windy conditions

The wind did not stop golfers from pulling off some strong performances during the opening day of the International Junior Masters golf tournament at East Aurora Country Club on Tuesday.

After placing high in a couple of tournaments leading up to the Junior Masters, Lancaster's Austin Nowak led the field of 80 with a par 71 after the opening round of stroke play.

Nowak felt confident about finishing around par, despite the wind. He recently placed second in the American Junior Golf Association's Preseason Junior and fourth in the New York State Boys High School Golf Championship.

"I just figured if I shoot right around par I'll be looking good for championship play tomorrow," said Nowak. "Even with the wind, I've been playing pretty good coming into this."

Defending champion Zak Griffiths of Red Deer, Alberta, finished the first 18 holes with a 72, a feat he didn't think was possible due to the recent tendinitis in his right arm.

Attempting to become the first back-to-back winner since Briny Baird in 1989, Griffiths pulled out of the U.S. Junior Am qualifier in order to be well rested for the Junior Masters.

"It was starting to get sore," said Griffiths, "but I really wanted to play in this. It really wouldn't have been worth finishing the other tournament, because I could've risked my chances to play here and other tournaments the next couple of weeks. It's getting better, though."

Griffiths' slow start didn't help either, as he found himself 3-over par after the front nine. He was 3-under on the back nine before he bogeyed the 17th.

Griffiths is in a three-way tie for second. Ryan Simpson of Mechanicville, who won the consolation bracket in 2009, and last year's first-day low scorer, Bradley Graham of St. Catharines, Ont., also shot a 72.

Other strong performances by Western New York golfers included East Aurora's Kyle Kapturowski (75) and Orchard Park's Kyle Jeziorski (75), Jonathan Clark of Orchard Park (77), Alex Buerger of North Tonawanda (78) and Patrick Fahey of Buffalo (79).

Jamie Cherutti of Aurora, Ont., had a 183-yard hole-in-one on No. 15 with a 6 iron. He finished with an 81.

The second round of stroke play will be contested today before match play commences in the afternoon. The top 32 finishers in stroke play advance to the championship flight.


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