Trinity King still leads the Fort Worth girls junior championship, but after shooting a 78 Tuesday, she has familiar company near the top of the leader board.
Behind her by one shot is Trophy Club’s Alexandra Batista, who shot an even-par 72 to gain six strokes on King heading into Wednesday’s final round at River Crest Country Club.
King shot a 72 on Monday at Woodhaven Country Club, while Batista shot a 79.
Last year, Batista finished second, ahead of King, who tied for fourth as a 12-year-old.
While King charged to the lead Monday behind four birdies, Batista carded the steadier round Tuesday: two birdies, two bogeys and 14 pars on the Ridglea Country Club North Course.
“My short game, I felt, was a lot better,” she said. “Yesterday wasn’t how I wanted it to be. I just kept it in the fairway most of the time, kept it on the green and two-putted.”
King found one birdie Tuesday, but she had her chances.
On the dogleg right No. 13, King cut the corner with a drive that went nearly 300 yards, setting her up for a low iron shot. Her approach landed short, and her chip skipped long, but she made par.
On the next hole — an uphill but short par 4 — she drove the green, landing a ball that rolled beyond the hole. She three-putted, but the distance of her drive helped prevent more than a par.
That distance is a new part of her game. In the last year, she’s grown around 4 inches, increasing her distance off the tee from around 190 yards to more than 250, where most of her drives landed Tuesday.
“It wasn’t that rough with my drives, but my irons, I just didn’t hit the greens consistently,” she said. “I had a couple of three-putts that I definitely shouldn’t have had. Length is definitely an advantage whenever you can putt, too, and today I couldn’t putt. Length is nothing when you can’t putt.”
King shot an 87 in the final round at River Crest last year, finishing 22 shots behind winner Erica Lautensack. Batista fared better, with a 74. Her low round of the 2013 tournament was there, too, when she shot a 76.
After keeping it simple Tuesday, she knew her plan for Wednesday as soon as she signed her scorecard.
“Fairway and green,” she said, “and two-putt.”
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760