Rayner keeps lead through Day 2





After the opening round on Tuesday of the AJGA Kansas Junior Championship at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, Maddy Rayner of Southlake, Texas, shared the lead with her traveling roomate, Maya Walton, of Austin, Texas.

But when Wednesday's second round of the three-day, 54-hole event, was completed, Rayner found herself sitting solo atop the leaderboard heading into today's final round.

A second-round 75, combined with her 2-under-par 70 on Tuesday, left her at 1-over-par 145 for the 36-holes completed. Three shots back is Courtney Dow, who has posted rounds of 72-76. It's one more shot back to third-place Sydney Bormann of Parkston, S.D., who is at 149 (75-74). Walton (70-81) and Yujeong Son of South Korea are tied for fourth at 151. Son shot a 79 after an opening 72.

Scores were consistently higher throughout the 28-player field as they battled northerly wind speeds of 25-35 mph after having to deal with 30-40 mph southerly wind on Tuesday's first day.

"I liked the first day a lot better," Rayner said after completing her round. "There were just some holes that were really, really difficult, and I had troubles with those."

She cited the back nine stretch of Nos. 13, 14 and 15, holes that traditionally play downwind, but had some teeth to them during Wednesday's round.

"I played those two-over, and it was just kind of like survival through those," she said.

After sharing the top spot at the end of round one, Rayner said her primary goal in the middle round was to make sure she had putts for pars. Instead, she had a number of birdie putts, making three of them on the 7th, 12th and 16th holes, while suffering bogeys at the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 13th, 14th and 18th holes.

"I thought my mental game, regrouping out there and not letting the round get away from me when I was on the bogey train was the strength of my game today," Rayner said. "It was a great piece of advice, just to slow down when you're struggling. The adrenaline builds and you need to be a little extra conservative, and just try to make pars. It was really helpful to me today."

Her biggest stumbling block, for the second straight day, was the par-5 13th, usually one of the easiest holes on the course. But it baffled Rayner once again, where her bogey was a slight improvement over the double-bogey 7 on Tuesday.

"There's just something about that hole that I don't like," Rayner said. "I tried hitting my better club there today on the second shot, and still didn't hit it right. When the wind is blowing like this, I'm just trying to slow everything down and keep the ball flight low."

Rayner said it had not sunk in that she was sitting on top of the field for the first time in an AJGA event.

"It's certainly different, but I'm just trying to enjoy it, not overthink it," she said. "We went to the zoo this afternoon (after completing play), and it was just a great way to get off the course and go do something really fun outside of golf."

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