July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

DeForest, Kim hold lead

WESTFIELD CENTER — Should history repeat, the third round of today’s Westfield Junior PGA Championship could be a little spicy.

Chris DeForest fired a 3-under-par 68 Thursday to put him at 9-under, tying the tournament’s 36-hole record.

The person he stands next to in the record book will be next to him on the tee box when the two go off today at 1:48 p.m. That would be reigning champion Joe Monte, who set the course record in 2005 en route to his runner-up finish.

DeForest played a smart round Thursday at Westfield Group Country Club’s South Course and leads Monte, Luke Guthrie, Mark Johnson and Connor Driscoll by six shots after logging four birdies, a bogey and 13 pars.

The girls leader is reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kimberly Kim, who is 3-over, ahead of Sarah Brown and Lisa McCloskey.

There’s a quagmire of 12 golfers within five strokes of Kim.

“I stuck to the strategy and bogeyed just one hole (No. 12),” DeForest said. “I was really trying to leave it around the hole.

“The lead is nice, but at the same time every one of those two-foot putts I had added pressure. I thought if I shot under par, I’d gain ground.”

Monte, Guthrie, Johnson and Driscoll will look to gain ground today in what has always been one of the most fun rounds to watch.

Monte had a four-stroke lead two years ago and wound up two shots back through 54 holes. He’ll have to hope for a little reversal of fortune if history is to repeat.

Monte went 3-under Thursday with eagles on No. 4 and No. 15 to stay in the hunt.

“Right now, where I am is pretty good,” Monte said. “I wanted to get myself in contention after a frustrating first round (where he shot even).”

Johnson, who played in the same group as Guthrie, shot the low round of the day with a 67 thanks to six birdies.

Both Johnson and Guthrie knew they had to go low before DeForest got too high on the leaderboard.

“If he keeps playing like this, it will be tough to catch him,” Guthrie said. “You just try to reach out and grab him and hope to do better (Friday).

“It feels like you should go low, especially when guys go crazy, but you’ve got to think he’ll come back to the pack.”

Speaking of packed, no one wants to take over the lead for the girls.

Kim went off early and shot a 1-over with birdies on three, 10 and 11, but double-bogeyed 18 to keep the pack close.

“I was 1-under through 17 and did not stay focused,” she said. “I was tired and screwed up.”

The one person who looked like she wanted it was Vicky Hurst. After firing an 81 on the first day, the Melbourne, Fla., resident had just one hiccup, but parlayed four birdies to shoot a tournament low for the girls with a 68. She currently sits four shots off the lead.

“I haven’t got rid of that 81 yet,” Hurst said. “My goal is to get it back to even. There’s a bit of hope to catch up, but I’m just taking it one hole at a time.”

Cassandra Blaney, who sits two shots off the lead, has to take that attitude as well. She looked like she was about to run to the top of the list but watched her round blow up on the last four holes.

At 1-over and leading the tournament, she sandwiched bogeys on six, eight and nine around a double bogey on seven.

That ruined what looked like it was going to be a red-letter day with a round in the red.

“It’s different when you finish bad because that’s what you remember,” she said. “Hopefully I can forget about it. I didn’t shoot myself out of it. I feel pretty good about my game. I just hit it off line a little bit.”