Hailee Cooper wasn't completely wrong when she predicted a fall from the top of the 42nd Girls Junior PGA Championship.
The 17-year-old from Montgomery, Texas, retained her lead at the midway point of the golf tournament Wednesday at The Country Club of St. Albans.
But Cooper's 10-under-par 134, after her 2-under 70 in the second round that was completed around noon, was matched by two golfers in the afternoon wave of tee times.
"I'm probably not going to be in the lead at the end of the day," Cooper, a University of Texas verbal commit, said after a 2-under 70. "I don't know. I'll just kind of work it out with the leaderboard."
Cooper played herself atop the tournament Tuesday with a record-tying round of 64, which only had been scored twice in 41 previous editions.
Another record helped match Cooper as 14-year-old Rose Zhang of Irvine, Calif., tied the best second-round score in the tournament's history by firing a 7-under 65.
Another Californian, 15-year-old Yealimi Noh of Concord, joined Cooper and Zhang at 10-under 134 by making birdies on her final two holes for a second-round 68.
"It means a great deal to me," Zhang said. "This is my first Junior PGA Championship, and to shoot the best round of my golf career is pretty spectacular."
Zhang's 65 was sparked by an eagle on her second hole and her five birdies in a bogey-free round included one on the par-4 No. 10, making her only one of five golfers in the 142-player field to do so in the second round.
Brooke Biermann, a 14-year-old from Wildwood, had a front-seat view of Zhang's round as one of her playing partners.
"She was on fire," said Biermann, who shot a 76 in the second round but missed the cut with a 36-hole total of 160. "I think I can learn from that, too, how she made the birdies and how when she got out of position she got back in position and she just stayed calm and cool throughout the whole round."
Noh set herself up to be part of the three-way lead at the tournament's midway point with an opening-round 66.
A three-putt on her 15th hole in the second round, the par-5 No. 6, was her only bogey of the day but she overcame it with birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 after teeing off on No. 10.
"I know these girls," Noh said of her co-leaders. "I've known them a long time, and just playing with them and seeing how all of them have grown in the game is fun."
The three leaders have a two-shot advantage on two players, including Lauren Beaudreau of Lemont, Ill., who was the Illinois Class 2A runner-up last fall for Benet Academy.
Beaudreau and China native Sophie Guo, who now resides in Orlando, sit at 8 under and five players are tied for sixth at 7 under.
Guo shot 68 for the second consecutive round and Beaudreau followed an opening 66 with a 70.
"I played really well (in the first round)," said Beaudreau, a Notre Dame verbal pledge. "I was making birdies from all over the place. (The second round) was more of a consistent round. My ball striking I felt was better and I hit a lot of tap-ins for par, so it was kind of a stress-free round."
No area golfers or golfers from Missouri made the cut of 6 over, which included the top 70 and ties, for the final two rounds.
Amber Wilson of Linn Creek, who plays for Camdenton High, just missed the cut at 7-over 151 and MICDS senior-to-be Shannon Gould of O'Fallon, Mo., finished 8-over 152.
Gould shot 76 for the second consecutive round and said she was pleased with her performance. She finished in the early wave of tee times.
"I was playing better in the beginning, so I would have liked to have finished a little better," said Gould, who had bogeys on her 16th and 17th holes. "But I'm still happy with it."
Biermann's 76 in the second round matched Gould for the best individual round of the tournament for an area golfer.
However, an 84 for Biermann in the opening round made advancing nearly impossible. She also had a triple bogey on her sixth hole of the second round but played even par over her final 12 holes for the solid round.
"I think it's something I can build on," Biermann said. "This course played firm and fast and I think I can really learn from this experience because I know I can do better because I left a couple of shots out there."
Two sophomores-to-be tied for the second-best 36-hole scores for area players behind Gould.
Pattonville's Momo Kikuchi shot 79 in the second round and Seckman's Claire Solovic fired 78, with both finishing at 156 for the tournament.
This article is written by Chris Gove from St. Louis Post-Dispatch and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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