Olympia Fields, Ill. – Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand continued her march toward the match-play bracket as the only player in the red midway through the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being conducted at the 6,403-yard, par-72 South Course at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club.
The temperatures continue to rise at Olympia Fields, with Monday’s mid-90s readings giving way to the upper 90s on Tuesday. But as with Monday, the heat and humidity did not faze Jutanugarn in the slightest.
Jutanugarn, a 15-year-old native of Bangkok, followed Monday’s 4-under 68 with a steady round of even par on Tuesday to maintain her position atop the leaderboard at 4-under 140. With all of the morning scores returned, she stood as the only player with a sub-par total, four strokes ahead of her closest competitor.
However, despite her large lead, not everything was up to her usual high standards. While she made the turn at 1-under par and birdied the par-5 10th, consecutive bogeys on the par-4 11th and par-3 12th dropped her back to even for the day.
On the front nine, I played good, said Jutanugarn, who competed at the recent U.S. Women’s Open, where she failed to make the cut. But the back nine was so bad. I missed three short putts from like 3 feet.
The Jutanugarn family spends five months a year traversing the United States, with Ariya and her sister, Moriya, competing in tournaments. They’ll compete in 12 this summer. They are a close-knit family, with Moriya, who withdrew from the championship with a wrist injury, on her bag and her parents, Somboon and Narumon, watching from outside the ropes.
We stay here for five months. If we don’t have [our parents], it would be really boring! said Jutanugarn with a laugh.
Casie Cathrea, 15, of Livermore, Calif., followed Jutanugarn at even-par 144, carding a 2-under 70 in her morning round. After making the turn at one over on the round, she rattled off two back-to-back birdies within 5 feet on Nos. 10 and 11, and tacked on another at the closing par-5 18th to finish with a flourish.
I just started putting really well, getting it close to the hole and making some putts, said Cathrea, who advanced to the quarterfinals at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.
Fellow 15-year-old Eimi Koga of Honolulu, Hawaii, recorded the championship’s only eagle thus far at the par-4 11th, sending her 8-iron shot from 130 yards down a hill at the back of the green and into the hole for an eagle-2.
I was really happy, but it was only the second hole, said Koga, whose 3-under 69 put her into a tie for sixth at 1-over 145. I kind of wanted it to happen later. But it was a good start.
I was putting really good. All my putts were going in and I was really happy. That’s what saved me today.
Seventy-two players have afternoon starting times, including Jisoo Keel, Kaitlin Park and Mariko Tumangan, who all sit at even par following Monday’s opening round, and 2011 U.S. Women’s Open competitors Mariel Galdiano and Gabriella Then.
The 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior will continue with the second round of
stroke-play qualifying on Tuesday. Following stroke play, the 156-player field
will be trimmed to 64 for match play, with the champion scheduled to be decided
in a 36-hole final on Saturday.
The U.S. Girls’ Junior is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Christina Lance is a coordinator of championship communications for the USGA. Email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.