Akshay Bhatia, AlexA Pano Will Take Multi-Shot Leads Into Final Round
The highest ranked players in the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship – Akshay Bhatia, the No. 1 junior boy in the world, and Alexa Pano, the third-ranked girl in America – will take multi-shot leads into the tournament’s final round at TPC Myrtle Beach.
Pano (Lake Worth, Fla.) began the second round with a one-shot advantage and took a commanding lead after birdieing three of the first four holes. She cruised the rest of the day, shooting a 3-under 69, the best girls round of the day by 4 shots. Pano is 6-under for the tournament, eight shots clear of second place Latanna Stone (Riverview, Fla.)
“I was hitting it super solid in the beginning and it carried over throughout the day,” said Pano, the defending girls champion. “I was within 10 feet on every shot on the first four (holes). That was just solid putting making putts.”
While Pano’s name never moved from atop of the girls’ leaderboard, five boys held or shared the lead on a sunny Saturday afternoon until Bhatia (Wake Forest, N.C.) seized the upper-hand with a blistering finish.
Bhatia bogeyed the 11th and 12th, falling one-shot off the pace, before making birdie on four of the last six holes, highlighted by a spectacular up-and-down from under a tree on the par 5 18th. Bhatia shot 68 – he was the only boy in the field to break 70 – and he will enter the final round at 7-under, two shots ahead of Luke Clanton (Miami Lakes, Fla.).
Shane Ffrench (San Diego, Calif.) is 3-under and in third place.
TPC Myrtle Beach played 6,997 yards from the tips for the boys. The course played 6,055 yards for the girls.
The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is a 54-hole college style event that has quickly grown into one of the top junior events in America.
With Johnson’s support, the tournament provides players a PGA Tour-like experience, and the opportunity to test themselves against a premier field.
A significant part of the event’s appeal is TPC Myrtle Beach, one of the Grand Strand’s most decorated layouts. TPC Myrtle Beach has hosted the Senior PGA Tour Championship and been ranked among “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” by Golf Digest, making it an ideal venue to test golf’s rising young stars.
The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship is being sponsored by Founders Group International, the Dustin Johnson Golf School, and Golf Tourism Solutions.
Johnson’s involvement with the tournament reflects his long-time commitment to junior golf, particularly in South Carolina, where he grew into one of the world’s best players. Through the Dustin Johnson Foundation, which is headquartered in Myrtle Beach, Johnson has donated more than $500,000 to junior golf, sponsoring numerous events throughout the state and helping cover entry costs for kids who need financial assistance.