BRYAN, Texas – Yujeong Son of Norman, Oklahoma, is the 18-hole Girls’ Division leader, while Philip Barbaree of Shreveport, Louisiana, has the first-round Boys’ Division lead at the 40th Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Genesis Networks.
Son’s 7-under-par 64 Monday morning equaled Ellen Takada’s women’s course record at Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas. Takada’s 64 came during the third round of last year’s Junior PGA Championship, which was also played at Miramont.
“It was a good round overall and my putting was great,” said Song. “I was hitting my iron shots really close and I had chances for birdie that I eventually made.”
She later admitted to being “excited” to match the course record, but cautioned that three rounds remained to be played.
Son, 14, is making her debut in the Junior PGA Championship. She qualified by winning the South Central Section Junior PGA Championship in June at Shawnee (Okla.) Country Club.
Thanks largely to eight birdies, Son leads Fai Khamborn (Cincinnati, Ohio) by three shots. Son’s only blemish of the round was a bogey on the par-3 13th hole.
Kaitlyn Papp (Austin, Texas) and Elizabeth Wang (San Marino, California) are tied for third place, four strokes off the pace.
The 72-hole Championship will feature a 54-hole cut to the low 30 boys and 30 girls, including ties.
Barbaree, who finished with a 5-under-par 66, started strong. He reached 4-under by the eighth hole, but then bogeyed consecutive holes, No. 9 and 10. From there, he surged to the top of the leaderboard by carding three straight birdies on holes 12-14.
According to Barbaree, the back-to-back bogeys, of all things, locked him back in. “I told myself just to learn from it and to remind myself not to do that again,” he said. “Today, I learned.”
Austin Eckroat (Edmond, Oklahoma) and Jack Snyder (Phoenix, Arizona) are tied for second, one shot behind Barbaree. Four others are just two strokes back at 3-under par: Brad Dalke (Hart, Oklahoma), Wilson Furr (Jackson, Mississippi), Nate Menon (Wyomissing, Pennsylvania) and Davis Shore (Knoxville, Tennessee).
Barbaree, who is verbally committed to play collegiate golf at LSU, finished off a historic 37-hole come-from-behind win in the U.S. Junior Amateur on July 25. But, this week, his memories go back further.
He finished fifth in this Championship last year and watched his good friend from Shreveport, Sam Burns, take home the hardware.
Barbaree hopes to duplicate Burns’ win here at Miramont. When asked about their connection, Barbaree acknowledged that he’d like to “keep it [the Jack Nicklaus Trophy] in Shreveport, for sure,” he said. “That’s definitely a motivation for me.”
In addition to claiming the Patty Berg Trophy in the Girls’ Division and the Jack Nicklaus Trophy the boys’ side, the elite field of 156 players at the Junior PGA Championship is vying for an exemption to compete in a PGA Tour or an LPGA Tour event in 2016.
The 2016 Girls’ Division champion will receive an exemption into the 2016 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, April 18-24, at Lake Merced Golf Club in San Francisco. The winner of the Boys’ Division will compete at the 2016 Valero Texas Open, April 18-24, at TPC San Antonio in Texas. The agreement was reached between the PGA of America, which annually conducts the Junior PGA Championship, the Valero Texas Open, and the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.