Neither Ziyi Wang nor Dylan Wu was doing cartwheels in the early stages of their opening rounds in the AJGA Junior at Centennial Golf Club Tuesday.
Their countenance changed considerably, however, by the time they completed the first of three days in the American Junior Golf Association tournament.
RECAP: Ziyi Wang, of Beijing, sets a competitive course record for women by shooting a 7-under-par 65. Her round includes eight birdies and a bogey and matches a score achieved in the 2010 tourney. Nick Simmons, of Carmel, Calif., tops the Boys Division with a 68. Medford's Dylan Wu is tied for fourth, two shots back.
up next: Second round, all day today, at Centennial Golf Club. Spectators are welcome.
Wang, who has wrangled with an uncooperative putter of late, found her stroke well into the round and used it to tie the women's course record with a 7-under-par 65. She birdied five of her final eight holes to build a huge lead in the Girls Division.
Wang, from Beijing, made eight birdies overall and has a five-stroke advantage over Haley Moore, of Escondido, Calif., entering today's second round of the fourth annual event.
Wu, meanwhile, was 2 over through five holes on a course the Medford player knows well and likes. Rather than force the issue, he waited for opportunity to knock and made four birdies over the final 12 holes to finish 2 under and in a tie for third place.
Nick Simmons, of Carmel, Calif., took the first-day lead with a 68. Issei Tanabe, from Huntington Beach, Calif., and David Tottori, from Las Vegas, were one stroke back. Wu and three others shot 70.
The open portion of the tourney, for players 18 and younger, was played in the morning. In the afternoon, the Junior All-Star tourney for players ages 12-15 was held.
There are a total of 144 players in the two events.
Wang is No. 89 out of 720 girls in the Polo Golf Rankings. She matched the course record set in 2010 by Elisabeth Bernabe, who shot a 65 during the junior-amateur tournament. Wang's mark is the competitive course record.
"My putter saved me," said Wang. "I've never putted like this for at least 11/2 years or so. I putted really bad last week. I tried to work on it, and it didn't work out that good. This morning I was feeling bad about my putter on the putting green, but it was just great (during the round)."
Wang is on her seventh trip to the U.S. She'll return to China after Thursday's final round. Last year, she tied for second here.
Her best finish on this stateside visit is fourth.
Wang had 28 putts, which, she admitted, doesn't sound impressive, but it's a big improvement. Her average is 32 per round.
The high school sophomore-to-be birdied two of the first three holes and was 3 under after six.
However, she made a bogey on No. 8 despite a drive in the fairway that left her only 73 yards to the pin.
"I had a really good shot, which I believed to be really good, but it went straight over the green and almost went into the water hazard," she said. "I missed a par putt, so it was really weird."
She felt "really low" after the eighth hole, then missed a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 9. A "terrible hook" off the tee on No. 10 gave her absolutely no reason to think she was in the midst of the second-best round of her career.
Wang shot a 64 more than two years ago in China, playing from the up tees. The course this week is 6,108 yards for the girls.
After recovering from her tee shot and saving par at No. 10, Wang caught fire. She birdied holes 11, 13 and 14.
"I wasn't really thinking about my score and total," she said.
She then birdied the par-5 16th, and used a big drive to do likewise at No. 18, making about a 14-foot putt with a slight, left-to-right break.
She didn't know she had a putt to equal the record.
"I didn't really think a lot," she said. "I just thought, 'Make a par or something. Don't three-putt it.'"
Wu got off to a tough start, hitting his tee shot well right into weeds and taking an unplayable. He managed to make bogey, got the stroke right back with a birdie on No. 2, then dropped two shots over the next three holes.
"My driver wasn't going that good in the beginning," said Wu, who will be a senior at St. Mary's.
He barely missed on a good birdie chance on the sixth hole, then nearly holed out on the seventh, ending up with a 3-foot birdie make.
"That basically started my round," said Wu.
An up-and-down par from 40 yards on No. 8 preceded a birdie at the ninth to get him back to even. On the back, Wu birdied the 13th and 16th holes, the latter coming after another short up-and-down on the par 5.
"I was trying to go for the green," he said of No. 16. "I was only 275 yards out and tried to muscle one and mis-hit it a little. I had that 35-yard shot, like, four times today and got up and down three times, so that's pretty good."
Wu didn't fret over his slow start. He hit the ball solidly but missed in the wrong places.
"That's easy to do on this golf course," he said. "It's really scoreable, but if you miss in the wrong spot, you can easily make bogey. Today, I hit it in spots I haven't been in in a long time."
Simmons started on the back nine and was 1 over after a double bogey on the par-4 12th. He made five birdies the rest of the way to take a narrow lead.
"I hit the ball pretty well today," he said. "I was striking my irons really well, and I dropped a lot of mid-range putts. Overall, I played pretty well."
Another local player in the open field, Ashland's Ramon Hedges, is tied for 24th with a 74.
A handful of locals are in the younger tournament, with Daniele Giles, of Central Point, and Kiana Oshiro, of Medford, faring extremely well in the Girls Division.
Both fired 1-under 71s to finish one stroke behind leader Anna Zhou, of Palo Alto, Calif.
Giles, playing in the final group of the day, birdied the difficult 18th hole to break par. It came after a bogey on No. 17. She also had a birdie on the front.
Oshiro was steady as well, making two birdies, one bogey and the rest pars.
Zhou is favored, having won three AJGA events this year, including her last two, and is ranked 46th by Polo.
In the Boys Division of the All-Star, Medford's Reese Fisher shot a 74 and is tied for 25th. One shot back are brothers Jeremy and Joshua Wu, who are tied for 30th.
Leaders Harrison Ott, of Brookfield, Wis., and Henry Lee, of Coquitlam, British Columbia, are 5 under.
AJGA Junior at Centennial
BOYS TOP 10
1. Nick Simmons, Carmel, Calif., 33-35—68 -4
2. Issei Tanabe, Huntington Beach, Calif., 35-34—69 -3
2. David Tottori, Las Vegas, Nev., 37-32—69 -3
4. Ben Albin, Santa Fe, N.M., 36-34—70 -2
4. Dylan Wu, Medford, 36-34—70 -2
4. Bakari Bolden, North Hollywood, Calif., 35-35—70 -2
4. Kyle Cornett, Mill Creek, Wash., 35-35—70 -2
8. Joe LaHorgue, Kentfield, Calif., 34-37—71 -1
8. Brian Humphreys, Washougal, Wash., 33-38—71 -1
10. Joshua Gliege, Eagle, Idaho, 35-37—72 E.
10. Joe Harvie, Orting, Wash., 37-35—72 E.
10. Roy Cootes, Rolling Hills, Calif., 36-36—72 E
10. Jake Staiano, Cherry Hills, Colo., 35-37—72 E
10. Brandon Wu, Danville, Calif., 34-38—72 E
10. Aaron Whalen, Ephrata, Wash., 37-35—72 E
10. Eddie Abellar, Vancouver, Wash., 37-35—72 E
T24. Ramon Hedges, Ashland, 38-36—74 +2
GIRLS TOP 10
1. Ziyi Wang, Beijing, China, 34-31—65 -7
2. Haley Moore, Escondido, Calif., 35-35—70 -2
3. Mackenzie Perez, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., 38-33—71 -1
3. Jordan Ferreira, University Place, Wash. (2013) 35-36—71 -1
3. Patricia Wong, Walnut, Calif., 35-36—71 -1
6. Tyra Tonkham, Arleta, Calif., 37-35—72 E
6. Sarah Archuleta, West Linn, 37-35—72 E
6. Olivia Benzin, Tacoma, Wash., 35-37—72 E
9. Jessica Luo, San Jose, Calif., 36-37—73 +1
10. Janet Zhang, Richmond, B.C., 38-36—74 +2
10. Sarah Rhee, Lynnwood, Wash., 37-37—74 +2
BOYS TOP 10
1. Harrison Ott, Brookfield, Wis., 34-33—67 -5
1. Henry Lee, Coquitlam, B.C., 33-34—67 -5
3. Robert Briggs, Novato, Calif., 34-34—68 -4
3. Ling Kun Kong, Arcadia, Calif., 33-35—68 -4
3. Roy Kang, North Vancouver, B.C., 35-33—68 -4
6. William Choi, Dublin, Calif., 35-34—69 -3
7. Sean Yi, Federal Way, Wash., 35-35—70 -2
8. Anton Serafini, Lake Mary, Fla., 35-36—71 -1
8. Ricky Castillo, Yorba Linda, Calif., 36-35—71 -1
8. Chase Furey, Newport Beach, Calif., 34-37—71 -1
8. Han Seop Lee, Chino Hills, Calif., 37-34—71 -1
8. Taisei Negishi, San Diego, Calif., 35-36—71 -1
8. Elias Gross, Calabasas, Calif., 38-33—71 -1
8. Louie Chen, Fremont, Calif., 37-34—71 -1
25. Reese Fisher, Medford, 37-37—74 +2
31. Jeremy Wu, Medford, 39-36—75 +3
31. Joshua Wu, Medford, 38-37—75 +3
GIRLS TOP 10
1. Anna Zhou, Palo Alto, Calif., 33-37—70 -2
2. Kiana Oshiro, Medford, 36-35—71 -1
2. Daniele Giles, Central Point, 35-36—71 -1
4. Alison Chang, Walnut, Calif., 36-36—72 E
5. Jiayu Kong, Arcadia, Calif., 39-34—73 +1
6. Mercedes Khumnark, Las Vegas, Nev., 38-36—74 +2
6. Kathrine Chan, Richmond, B.C., 35-39—74 +2
6. Bella Setio, San Marino, Calif., 37-37—74 +2
9. Waverly Whiston, San Diego, Calif., 38-37—75 +3
9. Ashley Nguyen, Tustin, Calif., 36-39—75 +3
9. Kimberlee Tottori, Las Vegas, Nev., 38-37—75 +3
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email email@example.com