ST. ALBANS, Missouri – Another day, another record-tying performance at the 42nd Girls Junior PGA Championship at the Country Club of St. Albans, Lewis and Clark Course.
Rose Zhang, of Irvine, California, carded a 7-under 65, a personal best that ties her with Vicki Goetze-Ackerman (1990) for the lowest second-round score in Championship history. She shares the 36-hole lead at 10-under 134 with Yealimi Noh and Hailee Cooper, who, on Tuesday, tied the lowest 18-hole score in Championship history with a 64.
“It means a great deal to me,” said Zhang, who’s playing in her first Girls Junior PGA Championship at the age of 14. “To shoot the best round of my career is spectacular. I left some putts on the course, but overall I played really well.”
Zhang’s afternoon got off to a hot start when she sunk a 35-foot eagle putt on the 478-yard, par-5 2nd. She would go on to add five birdies en route to her bogey-free round.
Noh, who began her second round on the back nine, played near-flawless golf excluding her three-putt bogey on the 6th. Birdies on her final two holes have her in a positive frame of mind heading into the third round.
“I was rushing a little bit because I was getting tired, but everything else was good,” Noh said. “I don’t really want to think about the lead. I’m just excited to play good golf with friends.”
Cooper also started on the back and reached 10-under for the Championship early in her second round with birdies at 14 and 16, but surrendered three strokes on the 390-yard, par-4 1st. The triple-bogey was her first over-par hole in the Championship.
“My triple woke me up a bit,” said Cooper, who rebounded with birdies on 4, 6 and 7. “My putting wasn’t as good as yesterday, but my ball striking was still strong. I’m going to pretend everybody’s all square and play it as a one-day tournament each day.”
A duo of 16-year-olds is tied for fourth at 8-under 136, two strokes behind the lead: Sophie Guo, of China, and Lauren Beaudreau, of Lemont, Illinois.
Guo faced an uphill battle after her opening-hole bogey, but birdies on the next two holes made for a quick recovery. She would finish with a second consecutive 4-under 68.
“My putting has saved me a lot,” said Guo, who attends The First Academy in Orlando, Florida. “I tried to keep my mind positive and would tell myself, ‘It’s OK, you can make a birdie on the next hole.’”
Beaudreau followed her opening-round 66 with a 2-under 70. After missing the cut in her first Girls Junior PGA Championship last year, she’s in a position to make a run for the Patty Berg Trophy just 12 months later.
“I really focused on my swing thoughts and didn’t try to force birdies,” Beaudreau said. “I actually felt like I hit it better today, but I didn’t make as many putts. I’m in a really good place for tomorrow. My mindset is to remain steady.”
Five players remain in the hunt at 7-under 137: Virginia Green (Point Clear, Alabama); Gurleen Kaur (Houston, Texas); Michaela Morard (Huntsville, Alabama); Angelina Ye (Bradenton, Florida); and Karah Sanford (Escondido, California).
Defending Champion Lucy Li, of Redwood Shores, California, is joined by Gina Kim, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Zoe Campos, of Valencia, California, in a tie for 11th at 6-under 138.