No. 4 Yana Wilson in second in the Girls Division; Carson Bertagnole, No. 12 Miles Russell and Eric Yun tied for second among the Boys
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (Aug. 1, 2023) ー A steamy day in aptly named Hot Springs could not slow down the best junior golfers in the country as 65 players—29 girls and 36 boys—shot below par in the first round of the 47th Junior PGA Championships. With boys and girls competing concurrently at Hot Springs Country Club, No. 2-ranked Gianna Clemente and Owen Bolles found themselves atop their respective leaderboards at the end of play Tuesday.
Clemente, of Estero, Florida, tied a Girls Junior PGA Championship record with an opening round 7-under-64 on the Park Course. The 15-year-old’s bogey-free round featured seven birdies, including three straight on holes 10-12, to give her a one-stroke lead heading into day two.
“I just made the putts, that was pretty much the story of the day today,” said Clemente, who made history in 2022 as the youngest player to Monday qualify for three straight LPGA Tour events. “That birdie stretch was really important to keep the foot on the gas a little bit and kept the momentum going. I’m just trying to play the best that I can and make as many birdies as possible.”
Just behind Clemente on the leaderboard is her playing partner from the opening round, Yana Wilson, the No. 4-ranked junior from Henderson, Nevada, who carded a 6-under 65.
The two friends, who said they were new four-ball partners heading into 2024, battled the whole round, posting identical scores of 4-under on the front nine before Clemente’s birdie stretch.
“We had never had that pairing before, so I was glad that we all got to play together today,” said Wilson. “We were both making birdies on the exact same holes and making pars on the exact same holes, so it was super weird. We were joking about how we’d be horrible four-ball partners because we would make the same score on every hole.”
Kylee Choi, of Murrieta, California, sits in third place in the girls division after topping the morning wave with a 5-under 66. Amelia Guo (Seabrook, Texas), Zixin Ni (Los Angeles, California) and Honorine Nobuta-Ferry (Windermere, Florida) are all T-4 after posting rounds of 67.
Bolles, of Chandler, Arizona, carded a 5-under-66 with six birdies on the Arlington Course. After opening the round with back-to-back birdies, he finished with a birdie on 18 to take a one-stroke lead into the second round.
“I mean, starting off strong with two birdies is always nice,” said Bolles. “I hit a pretty close wedge on one from the rough, and it’s obviously nice to start out hot. On the second hole as well, a good par-3, I put one just below the hole and made another good putt.
“I’m feeling pretty comfortable on and around the greens.”
Three players are tied for second after rounds of 4-under-67 on the day: Carson Bertagnole from Pinehurst, North Carolina; No. 12-ranked Miles Russell from Jacksonville Beach, Florida; and Eric Yun from Menlo Park, California. Ten boys are T-4 after posting rounds of 68.
Home State Standings
Of the 10 Arkansas junior golfers competing this week at Hot Springs Country Club, two are projected to make the initial cut: Will Gordon from Hot Springs, Arkansas, who is T37 after a round of even-par-71 and Anna Kate Nichols from Little Rock, Arkansas, who is T42 after an opening round 1-over-72. The cut after 36 holes is to the low-60 boys and low-60 girls, plus ties, and after 54 holes to the low-30 boys and low-30 girls, plus ties.
The 47th Junior PGA Championships continue Wednesday at Hot Springs Country Club. Second-round action gets underway at 7:30 a.m. CT.
For more information about the Junior PGA Championships, visit JuniorPGAChampionship.com and follow on Twitter and Instagram.
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