POTOMAC FALLS, Va. –– On a cloudy morning at Trump National Golf Club Washington, D.C., Brad Dalke maintained his lead after firing an even-par 71 on the 7,040-yard course.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from the boys division of the Junior PGA Championship.
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1. DALKE’S A GRINDER: Brad Dalke followed up his Championship Tournament course-record 6-under 65 with an even-par 71 on Wednesday of the Junior PGA Championship.
“I started off pretty slow,” he said. “I hit some greens, but just missed some putts.”
Dalke took his round to 2 under after making back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11.
He made a few bad swings that cost him strokes on the par-3s.
Dalke hit his approach shot on No. 12 about ‘a yard too far left,’ which caused a tough lie in the rough. He made bogey. On No. 14, he pulled his tee shot and it went long on the 210-yard par-3 hole. He had to hit a soft chip shot, and he did, but he couldn’t make the par putt.
The bogey train continued on No. 15. He made birdie on No. 16 to get back to even for the day – “That was big for me,” he said.
The 18th hole summed up his round perfectly, he said. Off the tee, Dalke hit it in the rough. He hit his approach shot into the greenside bunker, trying to attack the pin that was only a few paces on the right edge of the green. He left his bunker shot 15 feet short of the hole and had to get up and down for par.
“It was a good even-par (round),” Dalke said. “I’m happy with it.”
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2. CONSISTENT SOLOMON: Jacob Solomon is the only player in the field with two scores in the 60s this week at Trump National. He can thank his consistent play for that.
His rounds of 68-69 are good enough for solo second, one shot back of Dalke.
“It was a really solid round again,” Solomon, a native of Dublin, Calif., said. “My short game was really solid. My chipping and putting was good, so when you do that, it saves you a lot of strokes out there.”
He made pars on Nos. 1-7 before birdies on Nos. 8-10.
“I felt really good during that stretch,” he said. “Something just clicked and all of a sudden I started making up shots out there.”
Solomon added that his ball striking has been spot on this week and hitting greens has been key.
He will graduate high school in 2015, but he has no plans yet on when he will decide on a college.
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3. STEVENS IN CONTENTION: Sam Stevens is still right in the thick of things after his 1-over 72 in the second round to put him at 4-under 138, two shots back of Brad Dalke.
“I hit the ball really well today actually, probably better than I did yesterday,” Stevens said. “I was just a little off with my wedges and I couldn’t get a putt to fall.”
He thought the course played a bit harder Wednesday – he guessed it was because the grounds crew sped up the greens a little – and the second-round scores backed up his assessment.
“I had plenty of looks (on the greens), but I wasn’t able to capitalize,” he said.
The good thing for Stevens is that he didn’t shoot himself out of the tournament. He’ll play in the last group Thursday.
He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, playing with Dalke, before moving to Kichita, Kan., before seventh grade. Nerves will be a factor tomorrow, but “you learn how to handle it after a while. I don’t think it will affect my game plan either way.”
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4. LOW SCORE: Michael Perras of Pasadena, Texas, and John Lazor of Westwood, Mass., each shot the low score of the day, second-round 4-under 67s.
Perras vaulted himself up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth with Doug Ghim and Sam Burns at 3 under. He birdied all of the par-5s on the course, which helped him go low. He said all of his birdie putts were inside of 10 feet.
“I was very patient today,” Perras said. “I just kept hitting good shot after good shot, and just tried to focus on one shot at a time.”
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5. CHAMP TRYING TO BECOME CHAMPION: Cameron Champ got off to a dream start in the second round with birdies on his first two holes.
Then he got into trouble.
He made four bogeys in a 14-hole stretch following his two birdies. He birdied No. 16, but finished with a 1-over 72. He’s tied for seventh entering the third round.
The 2012 Junior PGA runner-up said birdieing the par-5 17th and making a 5 footer to save par on No. 18 may be just enough to give him momentum entering the third round.
Champ of Sacramento, Calif., has been hitting irons off the tee this week at Trump National. He thinks hitting fairways is key and since he usually catches a lot of fliers out of the rough, putting away his driver is smart.
“With my distance, it doesn’t put me at a disadvantage,” he said.
He hopes it will pay off as he is hitting more greens than usual.