Rolex Junior Player of the Year looks to defend title at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship
Jutanugarn cards 20 birdies through three rounds to secure lead
BRADENTON, Fla. — Ariya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand, recorded a 4-under-par 68 on Thursday to further her lead at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship, bringing her three-day total to 13-under-par 203.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Rolex Girls Junior Championship is a 72-hole stroke play competition played on the par-72, 6,316-yard course at The Concession Golf Club. The 72-player field features girls from 16 states and four foreign countries.
Jutanugarn's ability to make birdies on a course that has flummoxed most of the world's top juniors has catapulted her to a 14-stroke lead after the third round. The 2011 Rolex Junior Player of the Year tallied seven birdies in the third round, bringing her weeklong total to 20 birdies and an eagle.
After shooting a 32 on the front nine in the third round, Jutanugarn entered the back nine with a growing lead. She finally slowed down on the back nine, however, as she shot an even-par 36.
“My front nine was good and my back nine was good too, but I had one double bogey on a par 5 and a bogey on No. 14,” Jutanugarn said. “When it happened it was crazy, but I just told myself that I have to make more birdies to shoot the low round.”
For the third straight day, Jutanugarn carded the day's low round, as she was one of only three players to shoot under par on Thursday.
As the defending champion, Jutanugarn enters the final round in a familiar position.
“I'm really excited…. everyone thinks that being in the lead is really tense, but I am not,” Jutanugarn said. “I do think I have to shape my mind some, though, because my putting was not really good today and I made double.”
Playing alongside Ariya in the final-round leader group will be her older sister Moriya, who stands in second place at 1-over-par 217.
“I think it's going to be so fun,” Ariya said about playing with her sister. “She always tells me she wants to be in the leader group and right now she's in it.”
If Ariya's 14-stroke lead holds, she would beat the tournament record for margin of victory, set by Julieta Granada in 2004 when she won by nine strokes.
Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., rounds out the final-round leader group, sitting in third place at 4-over-par 220. Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J., is in fourth place at 5-over-par 221, while Jaye Marie Green of Boca Raton, Fla., holds the fifth spot at 6-over-par 222.
About the AJGA
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,500 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 40 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.