Wongluekiets double up in Girls' Junior opening round

August 03, 1999|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Since turning 13 on May 1, twins Aree and Naree Wongluekiet have taken turns, as well as teamed together, in writing an impressive record.

Aree continued that trend yesterday, carving out the only sub-par round, a 1-under-par 71, in the opening round of qualifying stroke play for the U.S. Girls' Junior championship at the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club.

Late in the day, Naree checked in with a 75. It was a far cry from a year ago, at Merion Golf Club. There, where the cut was 164, Aree qualified with 80-81, then lost in the second round, and Naree qualified with 83-75, and lost in the first round.

"At Merion, I was just happy to be there," Aree said after her morning round. "I've improved quite a bit since then. I've added about 10-15 yards off the tee, and came in here confident."

Her round included a birdie on five, a double bogie on seven and an eagle-3 at the 439-yard 16th. There, the 5-foot-3 slugger hit driver, 7-wood to the front edge and holed her 45-foot chip shot.

The skill level of the Bradenton, Fla., sisters, in their course management as well as their game, belies their age, size and experience.

Earlier in the season, Aree won two American Junior Golf Association tournaments, and Naree then won the Rolex Tournament of Champions.

Candie Kung, of Fountain Valley, Calif., the No. 1-ranked junior girl in the latest Golfweek/Titleist rankings, was one of three players at 73. She was joined by Aileen Yao, from the Philippines, and Kailin Downs, of Bend, Ore.

Of the three competing in their fifth championship, Kim Kouwabunpat, from Upland, Calif., had 74; Kim Rowton, San Antonio, Texas, 75; and defending champion Leigh Ann Hardin, Martinsville, Ind., 80.

"I struggled in the middle of the back nine, but I birdied the 18th, and overall, I hit some really good shots," said Hardin, the No. 3 student in her class headed into her senior year of high school.

Christy Larrimore, from Glen Burnie, was 5-over par through 15 holes, then went 5-over on the last three, three-putting the 16th and 17th greens, and failing to save par at the 18th.

"Those last few holes, I was getting tired, and then we were putting through shadows. I hit the ball super, but I never really felt comfortable." Of the 6,180-yard layout's 12 par-4 holes, Larrimore was able to hit iron shots into only two of them.

Jenny Suh, 13, of Fairfax, Va., led the three others who qualified here a month ago, shooting 80. Kansas Goosen, of Staunton, Va., had 84, and Sarah O'Neill, of Potomac, 90.

NOTE: Three-time U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Sarah Ingram, a Baltimore native who learned to play golf at Green Spring, will present a check for $25,000 on behalf of the USGA to the Young Players Golf Society of Washington as part of tomorrow's Junior Day program at the U.S. Girls' Junior championship. The D.C. group conducts a junior program for minority and at-risk youth.

(Scores, 5D)

Pub Date: 8/03/99

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