Shelton leads Boys' Division, two tied atop Girls' Division at Junior PGA

Robby Shelton at the Junior PGA Championship
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
Robby Shelton, who turned in a near-flawless performance, had seven birdies and an eagle on Thursday for an 11-under-par 205 total.
By
Randy Stutzman
The PGA of America

Series: PGA Feature

Published: Thursday, August 02, 2012 | 8:21 p.m.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Robby Shelton of Wilmer, Ala., used a Sycamore Hills Golf Club course-record 8-under-par 64 Thursday to catapult into the lead by one stroke heading into the final round of the Boys' Division at the 37th Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Heritage Food Service Group. Shelton leads Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Calif., who shot a third-round 67.

Defending Junior PGA Champion Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand and Samantha Wagner of Windermere, Fla., are tied for the Girls' Division lead after 54 holes at 9-under-par 207, two shots clear of Ariya's sister, Moriya, and Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif.

2012 JUNIOR PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

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The 16-year-old Shelton, who turned in a near-flawless performance, had seven birdies and an eagle in the third round for an 11-under-par 205 total. After beginning the round in a tie for seventh place and four strokes behind 36-hole leader Tyler McDaniel of Manchester, Ky., Shelton quickly moved up the leader board with consecutive birdies on holes 4 through 7. He added birdies at Nos. 10, 12 and 15, with his only blemish coming on his final hole, where he bogeyed the demanding 380-yard par-4 18th.

"It was very special today, one of those days where nothing can go wrong," said Shelton. "I was striping it, putting well and just knew when I started that things were going to turn out well."

Shelton, who has won his age division at the Future Masters four times in the last five years, is hoping to build off past success to claim the Jack Nicklaus Trophy on Friday.

"I have been in these situations before, though not quite as big as this," said Shelton. "I am in a groove right now and hopefully I can carry that through to tomorrow."

Champ, who is one of only eight boys who have played all three rounds at par or better, has 17 birdies, the most of anyone in the boys' field.

"I have been hitting the ball really well all week and it's helped my confidence," said Champ. "I started off great again. I birdied two out of my first four holes, so it was a great way to start the round."

Champ is looking forward to playing in the final group, and excited about his chances.

"I knew I had to play well to get to the top of the leader board and I was able to do that," said Champ, 17. "I thought if I got myelf somewhere close today and in contention, I could really do something tomorrow."

McDaniel, who owned a one-stroke lead heading into the third round, shot a 70 and is alone in third, two strokes behind Shelton.

Jim Liu of Smithtown, N.Y., the top-ranked junior boy according to Golfweek's latest rankings, is tied for fifth after a third-round 72.

In the Girls' Division, Jutanugarn, who entered the third round with a two-stroke cushion, struggled to find consistency. She had six birdies, but also carded five bogeys for a third-round 71.

"I could not hit my driver and my irons were bad, too," said Jutanugarn, 16. "My putting was so good, but I did not have chances."

Wagner, on the other hand, was steady throughout the third round. The 15-year-old, who shot a 69 for her third consecutive round under par, finished with three birdies and no bogeys.

"Everything was working well today. I was making putts, I was chipping well, I was hitting fairways and greens," said Wagner. "Ariya struggled a little bit but we both shot under par."

Both Wagner and Jutanugarn are looking forward to playing with Ariya's sister, Moriya, in the final threesome tomorrow.

"It's going to be so fun to play with my sister," said Ariya. "And I really like Samantha, too, so I am looking forward to it."

"It's going to be a lot of fun out there tomorrow," said Wagner. "We are all really good friends and Ariya and I had a great time today."

The 72-hole Championship featured a 54-hole cut to the low 30 boys and 30 girls, including ties. Thirty boys made the cut at 7-over-par 223 and 31 girls advanced from a cut at 225.

This year's field includes past winners of the Championship, PGA Junior Series event champions, PGA Section winners, many of Polo Golf and Golfweek's top-ranked players, and selected national junior tournament winners.

Golf Channel will present a one-hour highlight show of the 37th Junior PGA Championship, with the first airing on Mon., Sept. 17, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Begun in 1976, the Junior PGA Championship has traditionally produced unforgettable golf performances and brings together the best junior golfers from around the country to compete for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy in the Boys' Division and the Patty Berg Trophy in the Girls' Division.