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Rose Zhang shares lead at girls Junior PGA Championship after record-tying round

By Patrick Kravitz
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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.”

RELATED: Round 2 photos | Complete Girls Junior PGA coverage | Scores

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.