Fairway Oaks Country Club
ABILENE, TEXAS – After getting off to a slow start in Wednesday’s second round of the Abilene Reporter-News/Lawrence Hall Abilene Junior, Brandon Lakatta of Mansfield, Texas, caught fire on the back nine en-route to shooting a 3-under-par 69 and grasping a three-shot lead.
In the Girls Division, Meredith McMahan of
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the Abilene Reporter-News/Lawrence Hall Abilene Junior is being held at Fairway Oaks Country Club. One hundred and nineteen junior golfers from 12 states and Mexico are competing in this 54-hole event. Ninety-six players from the Lone Star state are entered in the field.
Lakatta, who began the day two shots out of the lead, was 2-over-par after three holes and struggling with his game. However, that trend changed beginning on the 526-yard par-5 14th.
An eagle on No. 14 was the beginning of a spectacular finish in which Lakatta played the last five holes at Fairway Oaks in 5-under-par. The stretch included another eagle at the 440-yard par-4 17th, where he holed out his second shot from the fairway.
“I didn’t hit a good tee shot until No. 14, then everything came together,” Lakatta said.
When it was all said and done, Lakatta fired a 32 on the back nine, leaving him three shots ahead going into the final round. “(Wednesday) was good for my confidence,” Lakatta said. “I expect to go out and play another solid round and just hope to do well and see where that puts me.”
Cole Moreland of Austin, Texas, and Cole Howard of Burleson, Texas, are locked in a tie for second place at 2-under-par 142. K.T. Livingston of Midland, Texas, played with Lakatta and was able to match his 3-under-par 69, leaving him alone in fourth place, four shots behind. Texas natives Colton Williams of Jacksboro and Jay Calvo of Baird are tied for fifth at even-par 144.
After a round that consisted of 14 pars, McMahan credited consistent play as the reason why she is sitting alone at the top of the leaderboard.
“I hit a lot of greens and my putting was on again,” McMahan said. “Everything was pretty solid (Wednesday).” McMahan, whose previous best AJGA finishes included two ties for third place at Nike Junior All-Star events, is ready to make a run at her first tournament title.
“I’m going to take it easy tonight and be ready for tomorrow,” McMahan said. “It feels good to be sitting in the top spot.”
First-round leader Brittany Tomerlin of San Angelo, Texas carded a 77 and trails McMahan by two shots. Henna Cho of Buena Park, Calif., shot the low round of the day in the Girls Division. Her 1-over-par 73 was enough to earn a tie for second place.
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 has a membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 50 states and 30 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA’s National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association’s success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, a supporter of the AJGA since 1983, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004.
Final-round tee times will begin Wednesday at 7 a.m. and conclude at 12:51 p.m. at Fairway Oaks Country Club. For more information on the Abilene Reporter-News/Lawrence Hall Abilene Junior, please contact tournament headquarters at (325) 698-4971, ext. 218.