MEMPHIS, Tenn. - On a day that saw temperatures soar into the high nineties, Lauren Stratton of Spring Hill, Tenn., kept her cool to fire a 3-under-par 68 and claim the lead with a two-day total of 1-over-par 143 at the David Gossett Junior Championship presented by Stanford Financial Group. In the Boys Division, Sam Braver of Roswell, Ga., shot a 1-over-par 72 to hold on to his first-day lead with a second-round total of even-par 142.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the David Gossett Junior Championship presented by Stanford Financial Group is a 54-hole stroke play event being held at TPC Southwind. The 84-player field features players from 19 states, Taiwan and Canada. The par-71 course is being played at 6,835 yards for the Boys Division and 6,000 yards for the Girls Division.
Stratton, carding the low round of the tournament, came into the day tied for fourth place. Attributing the seven-stroke swing in her score to better birdie prospects, Stratton said she felt comfortable on the course and planned to stay aggressive going into the final round.
"I hit the ball well today and was able to create more birdie chances," she said. "I was able to capitalize on opportunities that weren't available to me the day before."
Stratton, who carded five birdies on the day, said the 68 was a personal best for her. The Tennessee native has two top-three finishes this year, including one at last week's Jerry Pate/Andrews Institute Southern Junior in Pensacola, Fla.
Two strokes behind Stratton in second place is Mary Michael Maggio of Conway, Ark., with a two-day total of 3-over-par 145. In a tie for third place, both carding two-day totals of 4-over-par 146 are Kendall Martindale of Jefferson City, Tenn., and Haley Sanders of Rogers, Ark.
Braver, who came into the day with a one-shot lead, said putting issues on the back nine caused him to have to step up his game coming into his final nine holes.
"When I started off I wasn't hitting the ball well at all," Braver said. "I managed to slowly hit it better though on the front nine to make up for putting."
Braver carded three birdies and four bogeys on the day to finish at 34-38 on the front and back nines, respectively. He said experience from a win the previous week at the Heritage Junior Championship will help calm him for Thursday's final round.
"It's a lot easier with a win under your belt," he said. "Now that I've been in that position I know what to expect. As long as I play the same game tomorrow and hit my fairways and greens I'll be okay."
Behind Braver in a three-way tie for second place are Tommy Chung Hao Mou of Taipei, Taiwan, Gabriel Costa of Tequesta, Fla., and Jack Belote of Bartlett, Tenn., who all carded two-day totals of 2-over-par 144. Ryan Thornton of Chattanooga, Tenn., currently sits in fifth place going into the final round with a score of 4-over-par 146.
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA, the largest Association of its kind, has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,000 junior golfers from 49 states and 25 foreign countries.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex Watch USA, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Polo Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. More than 160 former AJGA juniors currently play on the PGA and LPGA Tours and have compiled more than 300 wins. AJGA alumni include Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink, Davis Love III, Cristie Kerr, Pat Hurst, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel and Julieta Granada.