Junior PGA Championship
at Sycamore Hills
Sometimes the simplest description is the best.
So we’ll sum up what Robby Shelton did Thursday like this: He played the single greatest round in the history of Sycamore Hills Golf Club, on which golfers have tested their mettle since 1989.
In the third round of the Junior PGA Championship – arguably the biggest golf tournament in the world for teenagers – Shelton fired a course-record 8-under-par 64, putting him at 11 under heading into today’s final round.
He has a one-stroke lead over Cameron Champ and plenty of pressure after the way he dominated the course with an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey, on No. 18.
“It was a very special day,” said Shelton, 16, of Wilmer, Ala. “It was one of those days where nothing could go wrong. Everything was perfect. It finally came together, and I shot a low one.”
Shelton eagled the par-5 second hole by hitting his 4-iron from 213 yards out to within 2 feet, then making the putt. He birdied four straight holes, beginning with No. 4.
And his save on the par-4 17th was great; he punched out from behind a tree and got up-and-down from a greenside bunker for a par.
His only hiccup was barely pulling his 5 footer on the 18th, which cost him a share of the all-time tournament record, set by Chris Couch in 1990 at PGA National and equaled by Pat Perez in 1993 at Pinehurst.
“I came in today thinking that going just a couple under (par), or even 4 under, would be good,” Shelton said. “But starting out, I was striking it and putting it good, and I knew it was going to be one of those days.”
Shelton is the 13th-ranked junior in the nation, according to Golf Week, and he was a semifinalist at the 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur.
His 64 tied a career low and became the second course record that he holds solely, along with the record at his home club of Azalea City Golf Club.
The previous Sycamore Hills record of 65 was shot by Justin Thomas at the Junior PGA in 2010 and equaled Tuesday by J.B. Williams.
“I guess I’m in a groove right now because I’m hitting fairways and greens,” Shelton said. “Some putts are falling. Some don’t. It’s pretty easy right now for me.”
On the girls’ side, Samantha Wagner, 15, of Windermere, Fla., shot a 69 to pull into a tie with defending-champion Ariya Jutanugarn at 9 under.
“Everything was working well,” Wagner said. “I was making putts. I was chipping well. I was hitting the fairways and greens. It was a great day.”
Jutanugarn, 16, of Thailand, whose first-round 66 equaled the course record she set last year, shot a 71 on Thursday.
Her 18-year-old sister, Moriya, shot a 68 to pull into a tie for third place at 7 under with Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., who had a 69.