Junior PGA: Dalke, Wagner hold leads
POTOMAC FALLS, Va. – As overcast conditions rolled into Trump National Golf Club-Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, both Brad Dalke of Hobart, Okla., and Samantha Wagner of Windermere, Fla., continued to lead through 36 holes at the 38th Junior PGA Championship presented by Under Armour and Hotel Fitness.

Dalke maintained his one stroke advantage in the boys’ division after an even-par 71 for a 136 total. He leads Jacob Solomon of Dublin, Calif., who shot 69. Sam Stevens of Wichita, Kan., and Dawson Armstrong of Brentwood, Tenn., are tied for third, two strokes behind Dalke.

Wagner, 16, shot 71 to have her two-stroke lead cut to one in the girls’ division. Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas, shot 69 and is alone in second, at 139.

A rising high school sophomore, Dalke’s up-and-down round included four birdies and four bogeys.

“It was a real grind out there all day and I actually started off real slow,” said Dalke, who opened his round with four pars before bogeying No. 5.

However, the 15-year-old quickly bounced back with birdies on Nos. 7, 10 and 11.

“The middle of the round is really when I started to get things going. I got under par and felt good about my game,” said Dalke.

He struggled a bit on the back nine, with bogeys at 12, 14 and 15, but bounced back again with a birdie on the par-4 16th. He saved par from a greenside bunker on 18 to complete his round.

“I made a few bad swings after a good birdie run,” said Dalke. “But the birdie at 16 and a save at 18 helped a lot. The 18th hole was really a summary of my round. I hit the ball in the rough off the tee, hit the approach in the bunker, but got up and down after making a 15-footer. It was a good even-par round. I was happy with it.”

Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Calif., the runner-up in the 2012 Junior PGA Championship, is tied for ninth, four strokes back of Dalke.

In the girls’ division, Wagner started her round with a birdie on the par-5 second hole. However, she did not make another birdie until the 165-yard, par-3 14th.

“I struggled a lot today. I gave myself a bunch of birdie chances that either rolled over the edge or lipped out,” said Wagner. “That’s kind of how my day went.”

She finished her round in style, however, draining a 30-foot birdie putt on the difficult par-4 18th.

“I really wanted to make that putt on 18,” said Wagner. “I knew I needed to make it to stay at or near the lead, so that was a nice way to end.”

Gillman offset two bogeys with four birdies to shoot her second consecutive round under par. She opened with a 70 on Tuesday.

“I really like this golf course. It suits my game well,” said Gillman. “And it’s a difficult golf course, which I feel like I excel on.”

Abbey Carlson of Lake Mary, Fla., and Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass., are tied for third, two strokes behind Wagner.

The 72-hole Championship will feature a 54-hole cut to the low 30 boys and 30 girls, including ties following the third round on Thursday.

The unique routing of 18 holes being used this week, dubbed the “Championship Tournament Course,” has never been used previously in competitive play.

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ABOUT THE Junior PGA Championship

One of golf’s major championships for juniors, the Boys Junior PGA Championship is where the best in the world get their start. Begun in 1976, at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, the Championship has been a popular stop on the national junior circuit for many of today’s PGA touring professionals including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Pat Perez, who held the record for 24 years until Akshay Bhatia shattered it by 5 strokes in 2017. 72-hole, stroke-play Championship, with a cut after 36 holes to the low 70 plus ties. The Boys Junior PGA Championship is open to males who are no older than 18 years of age by the end of the tournament.

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