FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Five things you need to know from the third round of the Junior PGA Championship:
1.) Runaway: Well, that was quick. Leading by three at the start of the third round, Ariya Jutanugarn opened up a 10-stroke lead in the girls’ division at Sycamore Hills and sent tournament officials scrambling for the record books. The only intrigue now, it seems, is whether she will break the tournament record for largest margin of victory — 13, set by Debbie Hall in 1977.
Jutanugarn, 15, also set the women’s competitive course record at Sycamore Hills, carding a bogey-free 66 Thursday. (The previous record was held by Kathy Hartwiger, who shot 66 in the 2009 USGA Women’s State Team Championship.)
“I made no bogeys today,” said Jutanugarn, No. 2 in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings, “so I’m proud of that.”
Through three rounds, Jutanugarn, who last month won the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Olympia Fields, has carded 17 birdies, two bogeys and one double. Her 13-under 203 total tied the 54-hole tournament scoring record.
In six junior starts this season, Jutanugarn hasn’t finished worse than eighth, with victories at the U.S. Girls’ Junior and Rolex Girls Junior.
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2.) What they said: In the wake of such a commanding performance, Jutanugarn’s fellow competitors did nothing but offer praise Thursday.
Said Casey Danielson, who was paired with Jutanugarn: “Oh my God, it was crazy. She just doesn’t make any mistakes.”
Said Jaye Marie Green, ranked 18th in the nation but seemingly playing a different event this week, 17 strokes back but in a tie for sixth: “If you want to win, you have to take it from her. But you can’t.”
Said Moriya Jutanugarn, Ariya’s older sister: “It’s just so different for all of us. She makes me feel so bad.”
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3.) Big-game hunting: Cody Proveaux hinted Wednesday that even though he was seven shots back, he wasn’t too far behind. Apparently so, after a four-shot swing on the par-5 12th Thursday moved Proveaux three shots in front and in command in the boys’ division.
“I saw the leaderboard on 13, and I thought, Wow, that’s a big change right there,” he said.
And his play on the back nine at Sycamore Hills altered the complexion of the Junior PGA Championship, where Proveaux, 17, is in line to pick up the first significant stroke-play victory of his career. Last November, he won the AJGA Polo Junior, a 64-player match-play event.
Proveaux, who has verbally committed to Clemson, continues to put himself in position in the biggest events; three times this season he has been a runner-up in AJGA invitationals. “That keeps me anxious, makes me want to practice harder,” he said. “It’s just one person who keeps beating me, so I’ve gotta go low enough that they can’t catch me.”
His third-round 67 was the low round of the day in the boys’ division by two strokes. Proveaux sits at 7-under 209.
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4.) ‘Stupid mistakes’: Zach Wright smiled as he approached a handful of reporters Thursday. What was the most significant difference, he was asked, between Wednesday (69) and Thursday (77)?
“Yesterday, I played good,” he quipped.
If nothing else, he had at least avoided the big numbers. But on Thursday, Wright double-bogeyed No. 3, then tripled the par-5 12th after needing six shots from 75 yards — a misjudged wedge into the back bunker, a bladed wedge from a terrible lie, a flubbed pitch, a chip to within 3 feet but a lip-out from close range.
“I should have had a birdie there,” said Wright, 17, of Phoenix. “Just stupid mistakes.”
At 4-under 212, Wright is only three shots back of Proveaux — an enviable position for a player who likes to play aggressively, to fire at flags and to seize on the momentum of the round.
Joked Wright, a LSU commit: “If I shoot another 77, I might quit golf.”
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5.) Leaving early: The 54-hole cut fell at 9 over and 18 over, respectively, in the boys’ and girls’ divisions. Among the cut casualties: Clancey Waugh, who holed out for eagle on the 13th hole Tuesday and was No. 2 on SportsCenter’s top 10 plays; Chelso Barrett, who last month lost in the finals of the U.S. Junior; Grayson Murray, the 15th-ranked junior in the country; and Summar Roachell, who this week was named to the U.S. Junior Solehim Cup team.