Takada fires 64; Gillman extends Junior PGA lead
BRYAN, Texas – Kristen Gillman might have extended her lead to three shots after two rounds of the Junior PGA Championship, but it was Ellen Takada who stole the show Wednesday in the girls division.
Takada, a 17-year-old from Irvine, Calif., went bogey-free and made seven birdies, three of them coming from off the green, en route to a second-round 7-under 64 at Miramont Country Club. She equaled the best girls score in championship history, tying Virada Nirapathpongporn’s 64 at the 1999 Junior PGA.
“It’s the best round of my life,” said Takada, whose previous low round in a tournament setting was 69.
Takada was born in Irvine, but moved to Japan when she was 3 years old. Last year, she moved back to Irvine, a golf-related move. Takada is ranked 78th in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings and is a member of the Class of 2016.
Although she has yet to commit to a school, Takada said she would like to play college golf. Winning this tournament would likely make that process a little easier.
PHOTOS: Junior PGA, Round 2
Check out images from the second round of the 2014 Junior PGA Championship at Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas.
Unlike Takada, who is T-4 at 3 under, the other four girls to shoot under par Wednesday are all firmly committed to a college.
Bethany Wu, the other player at T-4, is committed to UCLA. Samantha Wagner, who shot 66 Wednesday and is solo third at 5 under, is a Florida commit. Second-place Hannah O’Sullivan, who carded a second-round 67 to move to 7 under, is set to play at USC in two years.
And Gillman, the leader at 10 under after a second straight 66, is committed to Alabama.
Gillman donned a Crimson Tide shirt and hat Wednesday as she made six birdies and just one bogey. Through two rounds, Golfweek’s fourth-ranked junior has 13 birdies and is in position to capture her first major junior event.
“I just went out there and made sure I didn’t get too caught up in the score, didn’t get too far ahead of myself,” said Gillman, who has top-6 finishes at the Kathy Whitworth, Rolex Girls Junior and Thunderbird International Junior this year, and made the Round of 16 last week at the U.S. Girls’ Junior. She also tied for third at last year’s Junior PGA.
While Gillman handled the pressure of leading well Wednesday, O’Sullivan was equally impressive staying close behind. She lost one shot to Gillman, but with 36 holes to play and only three shots back, she’s still in great position to challenge for the victory.
“I sort of forced myself (to stay patient today),” O’Sullivan said. “It’s definitely difficult; it’s not easy at all. I was looking at the leaderboard every time I could and I saw that Kristen was playing really well. … I just told myself I need to play my own game and make some birdies.”
If the first two rounds were any indication, it will take a lot of birdies to catch Gillman. But as Takada proved Wednesday, the birdies are out there.