Gianna Clemente’s blazing start at this week’s 47th annual Junior PGA Championships has her firmly in contention for the Patty Berg trophy.
The 15-year-old Estero golfer is 8-under through the first two rounds of play at Hot Springs (Ark.) Country Club, one shot behind leader Kylee Choi of Murrieta, Calif.
Clemente opened the tournament with a 7-under 64 on Tuesday, tying the Girls Junior PGA Championship record with a bogey-free round on the Parks Course. Her seven birdies included three in a row on Nos. 10-12 that gave Clemente a one-shot advantage heading into Wednesday.
“I just made the putts, that was pretty much the story of the day (Tuesday),” said Clemente, who made history in 2022 as the youngest player to Monday qualify for three straight LPGA Tour events. “That birdie stretch was really important to keep the foot on the gas a little bit and kept the momentum going. I’m just trying to play the best that I can and make as many birdies as possible.”
Clemente followed with a 1-under 70 on Wednesday on the Arlington Course during a round that saw her shoot 2-over on the back nine. The 16-year-old Choi, however, shot a 4-under 67 including a birdie on No. 18 that gave her a one-shot lead on Clemente.
Following Wednesday’s play, the girls’ field was trimmed from 156 to 66 golfers. The field will be cut again after Thursday’s round to the low 30 scorers for Friday’s final.
Clemente, who is ranked No. 2 in both the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Golf Rankings and the Rolex AJGA Rankings, is coming off a semifinal finish at the 74th U.S. Girls Junior Championship, where she lost to eventual champion Kiara Romero.
This article originally appeared on Fort Myers News-Press: Gianna Clemente in contention at Girls Junior PGA Championships