BRYAN, Texas – Under benign weather conditions, Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas, took the 18-hole lead in the girls’ division, while a group of four are tied in the boys’ division on Tuesday at the 39th Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Genesis Networks.
The boys’ division foursome leading the way with 3-under-par 68 following the opening round are: Luis Gagne of Orlando, Fla.; Triston Fisher of Southlake, Texas; S.M. Lee of Buford, Ga.; and Parker Reddig of Minneapolis, Minn.
The 72-hole Championship will feature a 54-hole cut to the low 30 boys and 30 girls, including ties, following the third round on Thursday.
In the girls’ division, Gillman opened with 66 at Miramont Country Club, for a two-stroke lead over Hannah O’Sullivan of Paradise Valley, Ariz.
“I hit the ball really well all day and when I hit it close, I made the putts I needed to make,” said Gillman, who tied for third in the 2013 Junior PGA Championship. “You have to hit the fairway on this golf course, and if you do, you can score. I was able to do that today.”
Gilman, who has committed to play golf at the University of Alabama, is competing in her third Junior PGA Championship. In the first round at Miramont, she had seven birdies, including four in her first seven holes.
“I’m happy with how I played today, but there’s still three rounds left and you can’t get too far ahead of yourself,” said Gillman. “I have to stay in the present this week and take it one shot at a time.”
Sierra Brooks of Sorrento, Fla., shot 69 and is alone in third place.
Defending Champion Amy Lee of Brea, Calif., opened with 75 and is tied for 29th.
In the boys’ division, Gagne, Fisher, Lee and Reddig all opened with a 68 for a one-stroke advantage in the boys’ division.
A group of five players are tied at 69, one stroke back of the leaders: Clay McCrory of Spring, Texas; Sam Burns of Shreveport, La.; Brad Dalke of Hobart, Okla.; Zachary Bauchou of Forest, Va.; and Will Thomson of Pittsford, N.Y.
Defending boys’ division champion Tyler McDaniel of Manchester, Ky., is part of a group of nine players who shot 70.
Reddig earned a spot in his first Junior PGA Championship by winning the Minnesota Junior PGA Championship earlier this month. Though he struggled off the tee, Reddig credits his putter and iron play for having a share of the lead.
“Honestly, it was the worst I’ve hit my driver in four years,” said Reddig. “Everything else, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I putted the best I have in a week, hit the ball the best I have in a week. I just need to figure out my driver and I should be able to keep it going.”
Gagne used four birdies, including three on his front nine, to offset a single bogey in his opening round.
“I hit the ball well today, but still left a few shots out there,” said Gagne, who is also playing in his first Junior PGA Championship. “I’m looking forward to getting back out there and seeing if I can do better tomorrow. I’m ready.”
In addition to claiming the Patty Berg Trophy in the girls’ division and the Jack Nicklaus Trophy in the boys’ division, the elite field of 156 players will be vying for an exemption to compete on the PGA TOUR and LPGA Tour in 2015.
The boys’ division champion this year will compete at the 2015 Valero Texas Open, March 26-29, at TPC San Antonio in Texas. The girls’ division champion this year will receive an exemption into the 2015 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, April 24-27, at Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco, Calif. The agreement was reached between the PGA of America, which conducts the Junior PGA Championship, the Valero Texas Open, and the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
In addition, the Junior PGA Championship will serve as the final qualifying event for the 2014 U.S. Junior Ryder Cup Team, which will face Europe, Sept. 22-23, at Blairgowrie Golf Club in Perthshire, Scotland. The champion and runner-up in both divisions automatically earn a spot on the U.S. team.