Girls' Jr. qualifiers in swing of things

Larrimore, Suh, 154 others begin competing for 64 spots

August 02, 1999|By SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Christy Larrimore and Jenny Suh, two of the four players who earned regional berths last month to the U.S. Girls' Junior championship at the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, are coming into the opening round of on-site qualifying off confidence-boosting performances.

The field of 156 begins two days of 18-hole qualifying rounds this morning, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play beginning Wednesday.

Larrimore, from Glen Burnie, equaled her career-best effort last week in shooting a closing-round 72 at the Betsy Rawls Invitation tournament in Wilmington, Del.

She opened with a 75, slipped to 83, then bounced back to finish in the middle of the pack. "That helped," Larrimore said of her last round. She is 14, and an honor student at Archbishop Spalding High School.

Of her practice rounds, the Sparrows Point Country Club member said: "I hit my woods well and putted the same. Here, I'm going to have to hit good wood shots."

Larrimore was the last local to qualify for the Girls' Junior championship after going four extra holes in a sudden-death playoff. One of her two American Junior Golf Association wins came in a playoff.

Suh, from Fairfax, Va., won her past two events, the Bobby Bowers in Springfield, Va., and the Virginia Junior stroke play.

At the Bowers, Suh was the medalist, becoming, at 13, the youngest champion when she won her semifinal and final matches on the first playoff hole. She defeated Sarah O'Neill of Potomac in the semifinal and Jeanne Murphy of Alexandria, Va., in the final. Murphy triple-bogeyed the last hole of the qualifier to miss the playoff by a stroke.

Suh agreed with Larrimore that the Green Spring course seemed longer, although this was probably due to Saturday night's rain.

"I was hitting driver, 3-wood to most of the par-4s, so I'm going to have to depend on my short game," Suh said. "If I can keep that under control, I'll be OK. The fact most of the girls out-drive me by 50 yards won't bother me."

The other two local qualifiers were O'Neill, 14, who matched Suh's qualifying 82, and Kansas Gooden, from Staunton, Va., the local medalist with 79.

Gooden won the Bowers in 1997 and lost to Murphy in this year's semifinals.

NOTES: The field has seven of the top 11 players in the Golfweek/Titleist rankings, including the 1-2 of Candie Kung of Fountain Valley, Calif., and defender Leigh Ann Hardin of Martinsville, Ind. Two others are twins Naree (No. 9) and Aree (No. 11) Wongluekiet, 13, from Bradenton, Fla.

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