Ruiz on top by one shot

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Jerry Ruiz began playing golf tournaments in the U.S. for the first time two summers ago.

The Puebla, Mexico, native hopes the exposure lands him a college scholarship offer in the states. Ruiz graduated high school in his home country in June, and hopes to have an offer by the end of the summer.

“I still haven’t signed with anybody, but I’m hoping I can,” said Ruiz, who said Baylor University had shown the most serious interest.

His goal today is to capture a special edition Scotty Cameron putter cover, the prize the American Golf Association doles out to the low score in the final round of its tournaments.

At 4-under, Ruiz holds a one-shot lead at the Charles Howell III Junior Championship at West Lake Country Club.

The AJGA tour serves as the primary showcase for juniors trying to earn college scholarships, with a player’s ranking often determining whether a school shows interest. Winning the putter cover would also mean Ruiz has won his first AJGA event, an important step toward his goal of playing college golf.

“I’m just going to try to play consistent, play how I know how to play,” he said. “I want the headcover.”

Ruiz’s second round of 70 proved solid as the first-round leaders fell down the leaderboard.

Three inches of rain soaked the course Tuesday night and more pelted the area when play was done Wednesday.

Each of the three first-round leaders back-tracked Wednesday. Blake Soni followed his 69 with 73 and is two shots back. Carl Jonson is at 1-over par and Zi Ti Wang, who also opened with 69, shot 80 on Wednesday.

Lakeside senior Kelby Burton has the best shot of the locals in the international field. He fired a second-round 69, and at 1-under is three shots back of Ruiz.

“Hopefully I put myself in contention and can shoot a good number (today),” Burton said.

Burton qualified for the event after finishing fourth earlier this year in the first AJGA event he has played. He expects to play more of the tour’s events before the summer is through. He said AJGA events would be his primary focus the remaining of the summer but that he also plans to play a U.S. Amateur qualifier.

“This is my main deal right now,” he said.

Martinez resident Emmanuel Kountakis is a shot back of his future Lakeside teammate.

Arizona native Anna Kim separated herself in the girls division after a second round 70. Kim enters Thursday’s final round 6-under, eight shots clear of sisters Taylor and Ashlan Ramsey.

Reach Stephen Fastenau at (706) 863-6165, ext. 116 or stephen.fastenau@augustachronicle.com.

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