Wright leads boys by four, Danielson tops girls by one on Day 1 at Jr. PGA

zachary wright
Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America
With his opening 66, leader Zachary Wright was one of only six boys to break par on Tuesday.
By
The PGA of America

Series: PGA Feature

Published: Tuesday, August 02, 2011 | 8:13 p.m.

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Zachary Wright of Phoenix, Ariz., fired an opening-round 6-under-par 66 to grab the boys' division lead Tuesday in the 36th Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Heritage F.S.E. Wright, a rising senior who is committed to LSU, made four birdies and an eagle to shoot 30 on his back nine at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.
 
Competing in his first Junior PGA Championship, Wright holds a four-stroke lead over Daniel Chian of Covina, Calif., and Andy Shim of Duluth, Ga.
 
In the girls' division, Casey Danielson of Osceola, Wis., turned in a 68, one stroke better than Mariah Stackhouse of Riverdale, Ga., and Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand. Only seven girls broke par in the opening round.
 
"I wasn't playing outstanding on the first nine, but I kept plugging along," said Wright. "Then I caught fire on the back and played with a load of confidence."
 
Wright was one of only six boys who broke par. A total of 78 boys and 78 girls are competing in the 36th edition of the Championship.
 
"I made a 5-footer at No. 10, and that really propelled me, to tell you the truth," said Wright. "I only had 11 putts on the back, and I think it's safe to say that is the fewest putts I have had over nine holes ever."
 
Chian used five birdies to put himself in contention at his first Junior PGA Championship.
 
"I hit the ball really solid all day today," said Chian. "I had a couple of three-putts, and that can't happen. I have to keep grinding the next three days."
 
The shot of the day belonged to Clancy Waugh of Quogue, N.Y., who holed a 130-yard shot from a fairway bunker for eagle on the par-4 13th hole.
 
"It seems like that was my only highlight of the day," said Waugh, who opened with 76 in his second Junior PGA Championship appearance. "The ball was just above my feet and I had to cut it around a tree. It looked good the whole way."
 
In the Girls' Division, Danielson offset two bogeys with six birdies in her opening round. Five of those birdies came on the back nine.
 
"My putting was amazing today and I normally don't get up and down like I did today, either," said Danielson. "I played so consistent and only had 24 total putts. I usually have over 30 putts in a round, so this round was awesome."
 
The 16-year-old, who tied for 17th in her first appearance in 2010, is looking to build on her strong play from last year and hold off a strong group of players who are lurking closely behind.
 
"I have been playing well lately and getting to know a lot of the girls out here. There are so many girls that are so good," said Danielson. "I need to stay consistent and play my game, and things should work out."
 
Stackhouse, who won the USGA Women's State Team Championship played at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in 2009, is growing very accustomed to the course.
 
"I was very pleased with my overall round, even though I didn't finish as well as I want to today," said Stackhouse, who opened with a front-nine 32. "I sunk everything on the front, but just couldn't continue it on the back. I don't know what I was doing different, but I am happy to be in the 60s."
 
Jutanugarn, who won 2011 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship just a week ago, used four birdies to put herself in contention for a second consecutive junior title.
 
"Everything was good today, but the irons could have been better," said Jutanugarn, who is competing in her second Junior PGA Championship. "I only had one bogey, but need to go practice my irons to get them improved."
 
The 72-hole Championship, being staged for the second consecutive year at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, features a 54-hole cut to the low 30 boys and 30 girls, including ties, following the third round of play on Thursday.
 
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 36th Junior PGA Championship, with the first airing on Thurs., Sept. 8 at 7:00 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.