Blake Kennedy will be on hand to defend his title in the boys division when the Beth Daniel Junior Azalea golf tournament gets under way today at the Country Club of Charleston, but there will be a new girls champion.

Kennedy, from Moore, posted a pair of 67s last year to beat Thomas Bradshaw of Columbia by one shot in the 36-hole tournament.

Katie Rose Higgins of Charleston won the girls title by one shot over Katelyn Dambaugh of Goose Creek and McKenzie Talbert of North Augusta, posting a 141. Higgins, who has signed to play golf at the University of South Carolina, has aged out of the Junior Azalea. And Dambaugh, who finished as runner-up this year in the U.S. Girls Junior, is participating this week in the U.S. Women's Amateur in Charlotte.

Talbert, who won the title in 2008, will be participating, however.

Players for the tournament were selected based on their national ranking with the National Junior Golf Scoreboard and the SCJGA Heritage Classic Foundation Rankings. More than 150 players ages 13-18 applied for the event.

Dambaugh opens U.S. Women's Am with 81

Dambaugh opened the U.S. Women's Amateur with a 9-over-par 81 in the qualifying portion of the tournament being played at Charlotte Country Club. The 15-year-old's round included a pair of double bogeys but no birdies.

Rachel Rohanna, a sophomore at Ohio State from Waynesburg, Pa., set a record with a 7-under-par 65 to take the first-day lead. Rohanna's round bettered the mark of 66 set by Kellee Booth in 1998 and matched by Natalie Gulbis in 1999 and Amanda Blumenherst in 2008.

Match play begins Wednesday with the low 64 qualifiers.