Jordan Spieth is closing in on his first significant junior title in 15 months.
Spieth, No. 3 in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings, made five straight birdies around the turn Sunday to take a seven-shot lead after the second round of the AJGA Ping Invitational. Spieth, 17, of Dallas, shot a 3-under 69 and is the only player under par at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla.
Starting the day one shot behind Oliver Schniederjans, Spieth birdied Nos. 9-13 to seize the lead and separate from the field. Schniederjans shot a second-round 80 to drop 10 shots back.
“I had some wedges in my hand and I wanted to fire at some pins,” said Spieth, who won the 2008 Ping Invitational. “At Karsten Creek, that could mean birdies or that could mean bogeys or doubles. I was very fortunate that they landed in the right spots and I got the putts to drop.”
Defending Ping champion Emiliano Grillo birdied the final hole to shoot 72 and move into solo second, seven shots behind Spieth. Beau Hossler, making only his second career invitational start, is another shot back.
Only three players broke par Sunday at Karsten Creek.
“It’s nice to have a little cushion tomorrow, but then again it’s Karsten Creek, so my lead doesn’t mean anything,” Spieth said. “I want to set my own goals and shoot under par again tomorrow.”
Spieth went 3-0 last week in helping lead the U.S. to a decisive victory at the Junior Ryder Cup, the Americans’ first win in Europe. He continues to roll at Karsten Creek, making 12 birdies through two rounds on one of the most difficult college venues in the country.
It’s been a frustrating season for Spieth, who has two runner-up finishes – at the HP Boys and Junior Players – in four AJGA invitational starts this season. Last year, he didn’t finish worse than seventh in eighth junior starts, including a victory at the U.S. Junior Amateur, his last significant victory.
Grillo was one shot out of a playoff at the Junior Players, after making a sloppy bogey down the stretch at TPC Sawgrass. It was his only top-10 finish this season.
Hossler, 15, of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., won three lower-tier AJGA events this season, and tied for 22nd in his lone invitational start, at the Junior Players.
One day after setting the women’s course record at Karsten Creek, Kyung Kim dropped four shots over the final eight holes Sunday and has a one-shot lead over Moriya Jutanugarn entering the final round. Kim, No. 11 in Golfweek’s Rankings, sits at 3-under 141 after a second-round 74.
Ariya Jutanugarn is another shot back, and Kristen Park and Shannon Aubert are tied for fifth at 144.
Kim, 16, of Chandler, Ariz., is vying for her second AJGA title this season and fourth victory overall. She shot a course-record 67 in Round 1.
“The course was playing a lot harder today because it was windier, so that made club selections hard,” Kim said. “My confidence level is pretty high, but it’s not often that I lead after a couple days, so I’m actually kind of nervous. I just hope that I’m able to hit good shots tomorrow.”
– Information from the AJGA was used in this report.
The Ping Invitational
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