Gillman leads by 6 after 3rd round of Junior PGA
BRYAN, Texas –– A common theme talked about by the top three girls on the leaderboard after three rounds of the Junior PGA Championship was focusing on each shot and not thinking too far ahead.
For leader Kristen Gillman, that mindset will be key if she hopes to convert her current six-shot lead into the biggest victory of her junior-golf career.
For Hannah O’Sullivan and Samantha Wagner, who share second place at Miramont Country Club, that outlook will be crucial as they chase one of two automatic U.S. Junior Ryder Cup spots available for the top two finishers in the girls division.
Gillman entered the day with a three-shot advantage, but saw her lead shrink to just one as she double-bogeyed the par-4 ninth, pulling her tee shot left into the hazard, and bogeyed the par-5 10th.
“I knew coming into the back nine, I just didn’t feel good about how I played and I had to finish strong,” Gillman said. “I kind of wanted to have a bigger lead going into tomorrow, so I just tried to make as many birdies as I could.”
PHOTOS: Junior PGA, Round 3
Check out images from the third round of the 2014 Junior PGA Championship at Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas.
Gillman birdied two par 3s, Nos. 11 and 15, the latter accounting for the first of three birdies in her final four holes. She also birdied the par-4 17th and par-5 18th.
“I’m trying really hard not to get too far ahead of myself and think of all the other things I can be playing in if I win this event,” said Gillman, referring to not only the Junior Ryder Cup invite but also the sponsor exemption into next year’s Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, which will be awarded to the winner.
O’Sullivan and Wagner also struggled midway through their rounds, as well, each going 2 over from Nos. 7-11. O’Sullivan climbed to within a shot after a birdied at the 10th, but that would be her second and final birdie of the third round.
“I was definitely trying really hard out there,” O’Sullivan said. “I was playing a lot more solid than 2 over made it seem. . . . Six shots might seem like a lot, but anything can happen.”
Wagner started strong with three birdies in her first fives holes, but didn’t make a birdie after that.
“I got pretty close on the front nine after five holes and if I just continue playing like that it should be pretty close tomorrow,” Wagner said.
With both O’Sullivan and Wagner still confident with their chances to win their first Junior PGA title, they are trying not to think about a potential battle between themselves for the second Junior Ryder Cup invite.
If Gillman holds on for the victory, and O’Sullivan and Wagner finish tied for second, O’Sullivan and Wagner would playoff for that final invite.
“(The Junior Ryder Cup spot) did (come into my mind) a couple of times today and I was like, ‘Just stop. Don’t focus on that,’ " Wagner said. “I’m here to win and that’s obviously the next thing, but I’m trying not to think about it because I’m trying not to stress myself out.”
Said O’Sullivan: “If I want to get the spot, I can’t think about it. In order to play my best I just need to focus on the shot in front of me, and focus on my own game and only my game.”