Chad Howard and Catherina Li, after the storms passed and the skies cleared, thundered their way atop the leaderboard Tuesday after the opening round of the AJGA Stonehenge Junior Golf Open.
Early-morning thunderstorms delayed the start of the tourney about an hour and a half before the field of 144 golfers took to the par 71 layout at the Stonehenge Golf Club in Winona Lake.
Howard, of Dublin, Ohio, fired a five-under round of 66 to take the lead in the field of 108 entrants on the boys side. He made five birdies on the 6,779-yard course, including four on his final nine holes.
Li took advantage of the par 3s to also fire a five-under 66. The resident of Kent, Washington, made birdies on three of the five par 3s on the course playing 5,968 yards for the ladies.
Howard holds a two-shot lead over Bobby Jacobs of Valparaiso heading into second round play Wednesday.
Li, one of 36 golfers in the girls’ field, is six strokes ahead of Hannah Lewis of Plainwell, Michigan and Madelin Gedeon of Roseville, Califorinia, after each shot 72 in the opening round.
Quentyn Carpenter, a standout member of the Triton High School squad, fired a 75 Tuesday. Michael Makris of South Bend, who plays for Mishawaka Marian, also shot 75.
The WCHS boys program has a total of six golfers in the field. Senior Tim Ahlersmeyer shot 77, sophomore Josh Ahlersmeyer and junior Jared Essig each 78, senior Evan Cultice 81 and junior Ryan Cultice 82 on Tuesday.
Connor Isban of South Bend and Tyler Green of Columbia City each shot 79 in first-round action, while Dylan Gessinger of Nappanee finished with an 80.
Deanna Song, a 2012 Penn High School graduate, is the lone area player in the girls’ field. Song, who will attend Yale, shot 76 Tuesday and is tied for 13th place.
The well-run tourney, which is one of 90-95 held each year by the American Junior Golf Association, includes players from 15 different states and Canada.
The second round is slated for first tee-times at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Following the second round, the field will be cut in half for the final round on Thursday.
Complete first-round scores can be found at www.ajga.org.