Rose Zhang of Irvine, California, pulled away from the Girls Division field in the second round of the Rolex Tournament of Champions, while Karl Vilips of (Australia) Wesley Chapel, Florida, took over the Boys Division lead.
The 42nd edition of the Rolex Tournament of Champions features 144 of the best junior golfers in the world from 27 states and 18 countries. The tournament assembles the Rolex Junior All-Americans with the past year’s champions to create The Greatest Week in Junior Golf. There are 63 current or former Rolex Junior All-Americans in the field, with a total of 92 AJGA champions competing.
Past winners of the Rolex Tournament of Champions include Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Charles Howell, David Gossett, Webb Simpson, Sam Burns, Heather Farr, Kellee Booth, Inbee Park, Morgan Pressel and Alison Lee.
Zhang started the day tied for the lead after posting a 1-under-par 71 on the Champion Course in round one. The 2019 Rolex Junior Player of the Year, who started on No. 10 of the Fazio Course, got off to a great start with a bogey-free 2-under-par 34 on her front nine. She continued her unblemished round with a bogey-free 3-under-par 33 on the other side to finish the day at 5-under-par 67. Zhang will enter the third round with a seven-stroke lead at 6-under-par 138.
Zhang, a Stanford verbal commit, is a four-time Rolex Junior All-American who is No. 1 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. The high school junior owns six AJGA victories, including the 2019 Swinging Skirts AJGA Invitational, which she also won in 2018.
Charlotte Hillary of Cherry Hills Village, Colorado; Lucie Malchirand of Carnoux, France; Sadie Englemann of Austin, Texas, and Yunxuan (Michelle) Zhang of (China) Plano, Texas, are T2 at 1-over-par 145.
Hillary, a Northwestern signee, was honored as the female recipient of the 2019 Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award. She won the 2019 AJGA Junior at Big Sky and is No. 113 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Malchirand is competing in her second AJGA event. The French native finished third at the 2018 evian® International & Senior Showcase hosted by Danielle Kang (Senior Girls). She is No. 145 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Englemann is No. 12 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and has won four AJGA events, including the 2018 Buick Shanshan Feng Girls Invitational. She is a verbal commit to Stanford University.
Michelle Zhang is in the Class of 2022 and is No. 23 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings. She owns two AJGA victories.
Vilips, a Stanford signee, came into round two on the Champion Course two strokes off the lead. He didn’t waste anytime closing the gap however, making a birdie on his first hole of the day, the par-5 No. 10. Vilips proceeded to add two more birdies over his next eight holes, though he gave both back with a double bogey on the par-5 No. 18 to make the turn at 1-under-par 35.
The four-time Rolex Junior All-American immediately bounced back with birdies on the par-4 No. 1 and the par-5 No. 3. Vilips carded four pars and another bogey down the stretch before closing out his round with a birdie on the par-4 No. 9 to finish the day at 3-under-par 68. The top-ranked junior in the Rolex AJGA Rankings will take a one-stroke lead into the third round at 8-under-par 135.
Vilips is a five-time AJGA champion, with three of those victories coming in Invitationals. He also won the 2019 Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational.
First-round leader Kelly Chinn of Great Falls, Virginia, entered the day with a one-stroke lead, but he got off to a slow start on the Champion Course. Chinn bogeyed the par-4 No. 2 and doubled the par-4 No. 4 before getting back on track with a birdie on the par-3 No. 5. He made the turn at 2-over-par 37, though he would immediately get those strokes back with consecutive birdies on the par-5 No. 10 and the par-4 No. 11. After adding another birdie and bogey on the way in, Chinn finished at even-par 71 and trails Vilips by one stroke at 7-under-par 136.
Chinn is No. 45 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and was honored as a Rolex Junior All-American for the first time in 2019.
Andrew Goodman of Norman, Oklahoma, and Tyler Wilkes of Tampa, Florida, are T3 at 4-under-par 139. The pair have combined for 18 birdies and an eagle through two rounds on the Fazio and Champion Courses. Goodman owns two AJGA victories, while Wilkes has recorded three. Goodman is No. 30 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, while Wilkes is No. 17.
Aidan Kramer of Oviedo, Florida; David Ford of Peachtree Corners, Georgia; Aaron Du of (China) Sanford, Florida; Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut, and Piercen Hunt of (Canada) Hartland, Wisconsin, are T5 at 2-under-par 141.
Third-round tee times run from 7:30 - 9:20 a.m. on Wednesday, November 27. The Girls Division will be competing on the Champion Course, while the Boys Division will play the Fazio.