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Fast and firm.
That’s how they’re rolling at the 45th Girls Junior PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. And that was totally fine with Anna Davis on Wednesday.
It’s not so much that Davis, a 15-year-old from Spring Valley, California (near San Diego), loves slick greens. It’s just that when her putter is as hot as the Louisville weather, she’s no stranger to walking them in, literally. She cashed in seven birdies en route to a 5-under 68 and the solo lead after Round 2. The course is playing par 73 this week.
“It was the putting,” Davis said, just as a parent from her group passed by and noted that part of her game was so good Davis even walked in a few, making both of them laugh. “Usually if I do putt well, that’s when I shoot low. My ball striking is usually the best part of my game, so if I can get the putter going, I can play well.”
Competitors through the first two rounds have commented on how firm and fast Valhalla has played, including the greens. Those conditions can lead to some high putting totals if players aren’t careful.
Unless you have it rolling as true as Davis has. She birdied five holes on her first nine, and two more on the back. During one stretch that bridged the two sides, Davis birdied four out of five to push herself to the top of the leaderboard, with the help of her blade putter.
“They’re running a little fast, for sure,” she said. “That doesn’t really help me, not really. But I’ve been working on my putting stroke lately, and it just happens to be good right now.”
Jaclyn LaHa, from Pleasanton, California, shot a 2-under par 71, and sits alone in second place at 7 under for the Championship.
Jacqueline Putrino, 17, made the biggest jump up the leaderboard Wednesday after shooting 2 over in Round 1. The senior-to-be from Lakewood Ranch, Florida, got going by birdieing her first hole (No. 10) before picking up two more on the last three holes of her front nine. She didn’t slow after the turn, birdieing four of the next six, and six of nine, for the whole run.
She finished the day with a 7-under 66, moving up 35 spots into a tie for third at 5 under.
“I’ve felt like my game has been in a good place for a while, and today it all came together,” said Putrino, who is committed to Florida State. “It makes it even more special to play this event and do it at such a beautiful and historic course.”
The first-round leader, Alexa Pano, went the other way.
A day after ripping off eight birdies, Pano started her second round with a double-bogey 6 on No. 1. She managed a birdie on the fourth, but the red numbers stayed off her card after that as she finished with a 3-over 76, falling five spots into sixth place at 4 under.
Ganne in Contention
After her eye-opening performance at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, where she was the low amateur for the week, Megha Ganne of Holmdel, New Jersey, stands in a tie for third with Putrino and Catherine Rao (Camarillo, California). Ganne, 17, delivered four birdies to end the round with a 3-under 70, climbing six spots.
Although she was just one shot better than her Round 1 score, Ganne clearly felt better about how she played Wednesday.
“Much better than yesterday,” Ganne said simply with a smile.
76 Make the Cut
The cutline came in at 9 over par after Round 2 was completed. That was low enough for 76 competitors to earn their way into the weekend.
Kentucky Natives in the Field
Seven Kentucky natives are competing this week.
Trinity Beth, Calvert City - T-19 - (75-71--146)
Macie Brown, Mount Washington - T-32 -(71-77--148)
Casey Powell, Lexington - MC - (78-87--165)
Abigail Sutherland, Glenview - MC - (82-82--164)
Savannah Howell, Calvert City - MC - (83-79--162)
Elizabeth Eberle, Richmond - MC - (86-74--160)
Claira Beth Ramsey, Richmond - MC - (89-82--171)
The 45th Girls Junior PGA Championship continues with third-round play Thursday at 8 a.m. ET.