Shepherd jumps to early Rolex Girls Junior lead with opening 65
Erica Shepherd (USGA photo)
Erica Shepherd (USGA photo)

Editor's note: Day 2 at Briar's Creek was a wash-out, and the tournament will resume Thursday with a 36-hole day

Erica Shepherd of Greenwood, Ind., leads the Rolex Girls Junior Championship at Briar’s Creek Golf Club by three strokes after an opening round of 7-under-par 65. The recently high school graduate played a bogey-free round with seven birdies. She had a front-nine 5-under-par 31.

Shepherd is a two-time USGA champion, having partnered with future Duke teammate Megan Furtney earlier this spring to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. Shepherd, who will continue her college golf career at Duke University in the fall, has amassed a decorated junior golf career in general. In addition to the Four-Ball, the 18-year-old has won two AJGA career events and the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior. She played on two Wyndham Cup East teams and helped the U.S. win the 2017 Ping Junior Solheim Cup.

“It felt really good. I was coming off a pretty bad finish at the Thunderbird International Junior [in May], so I had a lot of motivation to play well this week and I think it showed,” said Shepherd, making her fourth appearance at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship. “My main goal this summer is to be ready to play at Duke this fall.”

Locked in second is fellow Duke commit Sophia Bae of Norwood, N.J., at 4-under 68. The 15-year-old is competing in her second Rolex Girls Junior Championship and is seeking her first AJGA win. Bae finished T-5 last week at the Memorial Junior hosted by Sung Hyun Park.

Bae shares second with Lei (Angelina) Ye of Bradenton, Fla., and Amari Avery of Riverside, Calif., at 4-under 68. Ye, a Stanford University verbal commit, is a three-time Rolex Junior All-American. She already has one invitational title under her belt. Ye took home the 2018 Annika Invitational USA presented by Rolex.

In third in a six-way tie at 3-under-par 69: Catherine Park of Irvine, California; Jinyu Wu of (China) Bradenton, Fla.; Anne Yu of (China) Champions Gate, Fla.; Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, Calif.; Phoebe Brinker of Wilmington, Del.; Charissa Shang of Calabasas, Calif.

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ABOUT THE Rolex Girls Junior

One of the AJGA series of tournaments that require an invitation to participate. For girls ages 12-19. Format is 54 holes of stroke play. Must be AJGA member.

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