Sage Valley Golf Club provided a was a very different prospect for the competitors on day two at the Junior Invitational as the field battled tough strong winds and gusty conditions with the first round leader, Ireland’s Tom McKibbin, carding a second-round 75 (which included a triple-bogey at the 17th) to fall into a three-way tie for second at 5-under par.
McKibbin, who fired a first-round course record 64, is now two strokes back from the lead but is perfectly placed ahead of today’s final round and sits tied with Ricky Castillo and Australia’s Karl Vilips, who carded an impressive second-round 69.
The three juniors gunning for the lead have impressive resumes. Castillo is appearing in his third and final Junior Invitational following a T3 finish last year. McKibbin is making his second appearance, and has wins last year at the Junior Honda Classic and Faldo Major Champions Invitational under his belt as well as his Peter McEvoy trophy win last week. Competing in his first Junior Invitational, Vilips is the current Rolex AJGA No. 1 ranked junior boy and four-time Rolex All-American, recently grabbing the individual gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympics Games.
At the top of the leaderboard sits fifteen-year-old Nicholas Dunlap who shot the low round of the day, a 3-under par 69, to take a two-stroke lead into the final day.
“With the wind, you couldn’t really attack any pins,” said Dunlap, “You were playing defence on most holes.”
Dunlap credited his par putt on Hole No. 9 from four feet as the push he needed to run. He went on to birdie 10, 11 and 14.
“That was probably the best 3-under par I’ve ever shot,” Dunlap said. But factoring in the wind, he said his round, “feels about like an 8-under.”
Dunlap, says a win here would be his biggest career achievement by far and coming into this tournament considered his biggest personal victory to be the Alabama Boys State Junior Championship, where he fired a final-round 6-under par to win. It was his final win notched in Alabama before moving to the Greenville, South Carolina area last year.
Full scores HERE