Anthony Paolucci (above) built a big lead, lost it, then rebounded to end the second round with a two-shot cushion at the Thunderbird International Junior. Despite three bogeys in a four-hole stretch, Paolucci notched birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 and posted a second-round 69 and a 9-under-par total.
“I knew I needed to finish strong because I saw Justin (Thomas) and a couple other guys who are playing good golf, so the birdies on Nos. 6 and 7 and I made a good putt on No. 9 really helped me finish strong,” said Paolucci, who is currently No. 8 in the Polo Golf Rankings.
But there is plenty of talent lurking in the field behind him. Shun Yat Hak moved 14 spots up the leaderboard with a round of 66 on Saturday and is 5-under-par, while Justin Thomas (7-under-par) and Patrick Cantlay (6-under-par) have the Invitational experience to challenge Paolucci.
“My experience is going to help me a lot because I know that if I ever get down on myself or if Anthony or Patrick is making a run, I know that I’ve beat them before and I know that I’m good enough to be them,” said Thomas, who won the 2009 FootJoy Invitational. “I need to think that way and hopefully that will help me.”
In the Girls Division, Rachel Morris (left) carded a second-consecutive round of 71, but in a very different manner. Sunday’s round featured six birdies against five bogeys, but her 2-under-par total still has her tied atop the leaderboard after 36 holes.
“I thought overall I was playing pretty solid, so if I can eliminate some of those bogeys tomorrow then I think I’ll be in good shape,” Morris said. “I take more good away from today’s round because I made more birdies than I did yesterday, so I know I can do it and it gave me more confidence.”
After a 2-under-par 70, Laetitia Beck (right) moved into a familiar position – into the final group at an Invitational. Most recently, she played with two-time Rolex Junior Player of the Year in the final group at the 2010 ANNIKA Invitational.
“Because I’m used to being in the final group, maybe I won’t feel as much pressure,” Beck said. “It’s just a game, so I just try to have fun and if I play well, I will win.”