Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida - Nicholas Dunlap of Huntsville, Alabama, took full advantage of moving day and now leads The Junior PLAYERS Championship by two strokes at 6-under-par 138.
Thanks to a longtime partnership between the PGA TOUR and the American Junior Golf Association (AJGA), 78 of the world's top-ranked male junior golfers, invited through the Rolex AJGA Rankings, compete each year at TPC Sawgrass in a 54-hole, stroke-play event mirroring THE PLAYERS Championship setup, hole locations, and three-hole aggregate playoff format.
The 15th annual Junior PLAYERS Championship showcases the best of the next generation of future college and professional stars. To date, 40 past players have graduated to play in the PGA TOUR's PLAYERS Championship. Justin Thomas became the first Junior PLAYERS Championship alumni to win the professional event earlier this year. He competed as a junior in 2008 and 2009.
Representatives from seven foreign countries and 19 U.S. states (12 from Florida) highlight this year's field. Four of the top-10 boys in the Rolex AJGA Rankings are in attendance, including Dunlap, who is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Entering the second round one stroke off the lead, Dunlap wasted no time climbing to the top of the leaderboard. The Alabama commit, who started on No. 10, went 4-under through the first three holes, with birdies on the par-4 Nos. 10 and 12 and an eagle on the par-5 No. 11. After carding pars on his next three holes, Dunlap added another birdie on the par-5 No. 16. That momentum came to a brief halt on the iconic 18th hole, where he made a double bogey.
After making the turn at 3-under-par 33, Dunlap made a bogey on No. 1. Despite giving back three strokes at the turn, Dunlap kept his composure and bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 No. 2. He played steady from there, making pars on the last seven holes to post a 3-under-par 69 for the second day in a row. Dunlap will enter the final round with a two-stroke lead at 6-under-par 138.
Dunlap's making a name for himself in 2021 with wins at the Dustin Johnson World Junior, Polo Golf Junior Classic at Liberty National and U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. Of eight national junior golf appearances this year, Dunlap has finished outside the top 5 just once. He was a 2019 Rolex Junior All-American.
Benjamin James of Milford, Connecticut, is in second at 4-under-par 140. The Virginia commit followed a first round 3-under-par 69 with a 1-under-par 71 in round two. James had an up-and-down second round with four birdies to three bogeys.
James is having quite the year himself, with wins at the Scott Robertson Memorial, Team TaylorMade Invitational, and the Northern Junior Championship. He's No. 6 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Bryan Lee of Fairfax, Virginia, Jonathan Griz of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and Alex Papayoanou of The Woodlands, Texas, are T3 at 2-under-par 142.
Lee is No. 23 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and committed to Virginia. He finished T2 at the Boys Junior PGA Championship and seventh at the Scott Robertson Memorial.
Griz is a two-time Rolex Junior All-American and committed to Alabama. He's No. 40 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings and finished T5 at the Sea Pines Junior Heritage.
Papayoanou won the Insperity Invitational / Patrick Reed AJGA Junior Championship in June and is No. 79 in the Rolex AJGA Rankings.
Final round tee times will run from 8:10-10:10 a.m. off Nos. 1 and 10 at TPC Sawgrass - THE PLAYERS Stadium Course on Sunday, September 5.