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Arlinghaus Shoots 1039-Rated Round to Take Early Lead in Junior 18 & Under Division


An early morning set of thunderstorms delayed the opening round of the 2019 PDGA Junior Disc Golf World Championships presented by Dynamic Discs for an hour, but the rest of the day went off without a hitch. 210 competitors spread across five of the Emporia, Kansas courses took the tees in sweltering heat and drenching humidity to kick off the second annual Junior World Championships.

As we’ve stated many, many times before at our world championship events, whether you’re on the top of the leaderboard or the bottom, nothing is set in stone this early on in the week. Of the nine divisions on site, only one has a player leading by double digits, South Carolina’s Hope Brown of the Junior Girls 15 & Under division, who now leads by 10 after her first two rounds on Wednesday. If Brown can keep up the pace, she’ll be in contention for her third world title as a junior competitor having already won in the Junior Girls 13 & Under in 2016 (division is no longer in use) and in the Junior Girls 12 & Under in 2017.

Texas’s Melody Castruita and Arkansas’s Kat Mertsch finished as the top two in the Junior Girls 18 & Under division at even par and three over par on the day, respectively, both of which are well ahead of the girls chasing them below.

The largest field of the event is, as usual, the Junior 18 & Under division, with a full field of 72. A three-way tie at 10-under par left the top of the leaderboard knotted up between Noah Higgins, David O’Meara, and Kevin Keifer, with 15-year-old Zach Arlinghaus one behind joining them on the lead card heading into round two at Peter Pan Park.

After weeks of rain leading up to the event, Peter Pan Park took on a last-minute redesign, altering the placement of a few baskets, removing a few holes completely, and then replacing said removed holes with temporary new ones. This is not an uncommon occurrence at Peter Pan Park, as a rise in the Cottonwood River that runs along the southwest corner of the park often means flooding for the holes in which creeks from the river flow out of.

Despite the redesign, there were no complaints and the Junior 18 & Under boys joined by the Junior 15 & Under boys flew through the course with ease. It was especially easy for Arlinghaus it seems. He opened the round with seven birdies on the first eight holes and finished with an additional six more on the back nine. Combined with one bogey and three pars, two of which were uncharacteristic missed birdie putts inside the circle, Arlinghaus went on to finish the round with a 12-under par 43, a score that was six or more better than anyone else on the card. Players from the cards below took advantage, including another 15-year-old, Samuel Streeter, who finished with a 10-under par 45 to jump to the chase card and a 9-under par 46 by Levi Hancock to jump to the lead card.

While the Junior 18 & Under and the Junior 15 & Under competitors take on tee times at the Emporia Country Club on Thursday, the rest of the divisions will be spread out across Emporia for either one or two rounds. There’s a lot more shuffling of the rankings to come, so stay tuned and follow the live hole-by-hole scores on pdgalive.com.

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