Moldovan takes Sage Valley lead into the final nine
- Photo credit: Montana Pritchard Photography
- Photo credit: Montana Pritchard Photography

2019 Junior Invitational runner-up Maxwell Moldovan raced to the top of the leaderboard after a second-round 65 took him to 9-under following round two of the 10th Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club.

Moldovan fell to Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin in the 9th Junior Invitational. The defending champion currently sits at T32 and 3-over for the tournament. Moldovan, the 18-year-old Uniontown, Ohio, native now finds himself in a familiar leaderboard position in his second Junior Invitational appearance.

“This is probably the best week in junior golf for sure,” he said. “I’ve played at all the big tournaments in the last two years, so to come to Sage Valley is always a treat and always a highlight. It’s the thing I’m most excited for on my schedule.”

Moldovan, who heads to Ohio State University this fall, sank a 15-footer for birdie on the first hole, which he followed up with an eagle on Hole No. 4 and two separate chip-ins on Hole Nos. 10 and 18. He played the front nine in the afternoon at even par.

“To get the whole day started with that birdie created a lot of confidence with my putter, which is a big thing for me,” he added. “I made probably five or six putts between four and seven feet for par, and I think at a course like Sage Valley, making your par putts is huge.”

China’s Aaron Du, 18, is making a splash in his first appearance at the Junior Invitational, sitting in second place behind Moldovan at 7-under for the tournament. Also notably, 18-year-old Michael Brennan of Leesburg, Virginia, shot an impressive 6-under on his final nine holes to catapult him into a tie for third with Andi Xu, 17, of San Diego.

The event has had two high-profile withdrawals as a result of previous injuries. England’s Joe Pagdin, currently ranked No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings, withdrew following today’s round due to a prior rib injury, and Australia’s Karl Vilips, ranked No. 2, withdrew following the first round because of a prior finger injury.

Today’s 27 holes were played under a restrictive policy allowing only the players, their families and the most essential personnel onto the grounds at Sage Valley. The SVJI Sports Foundation continues to be in close contact with the South Carolina Department of Health (SCDH) to ensure the event is complying with the ever-changing policies around COVID-19 issues. The tournament will conclude tomorrow (Saturday) morning with the final nine holes of round three.

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ABOUT THE Junior Invitational

The Junior Invitational's mission is to operate the most prestigious junior golf championship in the world—an invitation-only annual event for the top 36 boys and 24 girls from around the globe, hosted by the renowned Sage Valley Golf Club.

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