POTOMAC FALLS, Va. – Samantha Wagner of Windermere, Fla., and Brad Dalke of Hobart, Okla., enjoyed the ideal weather conditions in Northern Virginia Tuesday at Trump National Golf Club-Washington, D.C., grabbing the opening-round leads at the 38th Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Hotel Fitness.
Dalke opened with a flawless 6-under-par 65 for a one-stroke advantage in the boys’ division. His round featured six birdies, including a near eagle on his final hole, the par-5 10th. The two-tee start had players teeing off from the first and 11th holes.
“I played really well all day and hit a whole lot of fairways and a lot of greens,” said Dalke, 15. “I missed some medium-length putts and could have gone lower, but I’m happy with a 65 for sure.”
Dalke, playing in his second Junior PGA Championship, is looking to build on the experience of playing in an elite junior championship. He finished in a tie for fourth in 2012 at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“The first time I played in this event it was fun, but it was a real wake-up call because of the strong field,” said Dalke. “I shot a 65 in the final round last year at the Junior PGA Championship and it was the lowest round of my career. That round really gave me the experience of being able to go low.”
Sam Stevens of Wichita, Kan., is alone in second after an opening-round 66.
Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Calif., who finished as the runner-up in 2012, is in a group of three players just three strokes back of Dalke.
In the girls’ division, Wagner, a rising high school junior who has already committed to the University of Florida, opened with a birdie on her first hole, the par-4 11th, and added four more birdies en route to a 67. She owns a two-stroke lead over Kuriko Tsukiyama of West New York, N.J., who opened with 69.
“It was nice to birdie my first hole and that gave me a boost heading into the rest of the round,” said Wagner. “When I needed to get up and down today I did, and when I had a birdie chance I was able to make it.”
Wagner, 16, is competing in her second Junior PGA Championship, having finished alone in second place in 2012 at Sycamore Hills. She also played at Sycamore Hills last week at the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, losing in the round of 16.
“I love both golf courses [Trump National and Sycamore Hills] and they actually play pretty similar for me,” said Wagner. “I really want to win this tournament, and after finishing second last year, it makes me want to win that much more.”
A group of five players are tied for third, two strokes behind Wagner: Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass.; Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas; Shannon Brooks of Vienna, Va.; Robynn Ree of Redondo Beach, Calif.; and Morgan Gonzales of Chandler, Ariz.
The unique routing of holes, dubbed the “Championship Tournament Course,” being used for the Junior PGA Championship this year, has never been used previously in competitive play. Therefore both Wagner and Dalke now own the female and male competitive course record, respectively.
The 72-hole Championship will feature a 54-hole cut to the low 30 boys and 30 girls, including ties.