FORT WAYNE – Its early – this is a 72-hole tournament – but the Junior PGA Championship had quite a surprise atop the leader board of the boys division after Tuesdays first round.
J.B. Williams, a 17-year-old native of Danville, Ky., who isnt even ranked in the top 750 according to the major rankings – done by Golfweek and Polo Golf – shot a 7-under 65 at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.
Not only did that tie the course record, set at this tournament in 2010 by Justin Thomas, but it put him ahead of a bunch of players considered surefire future PGA players.
I love the golf course, Williams said. It sets up perfectly for me. Theres room in the fairways to blast it down there, then small targets to the pins. You have to hit great second shots to score here and I did that.
And he wasnt the only one who made some history; Ariya Jutanugarn posted a 66, tying the female course record she set while winning last year, which was also equaled by LPGA professional Belén Mozo in a June tournament.
Williams had eight birdies in his round, including four in the last six holes, to give him a two-stroke lead over Jim Liu, 16, and Cameron Champ, 17.
Youve got to stick to your game plan here and what you have planned to do on this course beforehand, Liu said. You cant get too impatient out there. You have to take what you score out there and do well on the next hole.
Beau Hossler, 17, who led the U.S. Open for a spell last month, is 4 under and tied for fourth place with Tyler McDaniel, 16.
Because of rain, there was a two-hour delay to the first round of the 156-player tournament and that worked to the advantage of several players.
The rain delay was a big factor, Williams said. The greens were really firm in the practice rounds and you couldnt go at the pins like you could today. Most of the guys, as you can see, were able to shoot at them and thats why the low scores are out there.
Jutanugarn, 16, of Thailand rallied with birdies on the final three holes to gain a one-stroke lead on the girls side over Samantha Wagner, 15.
On the front nine, I wasnt playing very good, Jutanugarn said. I missed a lot with my driver and it was so bad. I had to fix it and thought, On the back nine, its got to be better.
It was, including a chip-in on the par-4 16th and an approach to within 1 foot on the par-4 18th to set up a birdie.
For Casie Cathrea, 16, the back nine wasnt as fruitful. The Oklahoma State recruit shot a 5-under 31 on the front nine and got to 6 under after 14 holes, but she was 4 over on the final four holes.
Casie, I really love her swing and her game is perfect, Jutanugarn said of Cathrea, who is tied for fifth, two strokes back of Megan Khang, 14, and one behind Moriya Jutanugarn, 18.