Abiecunas strokes into junior semifinals

N. Wongluekiet forced out

twin Aree among final four

August 06, 1999|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Nancy Abiecunas, considered one of the top players in the field, breezed through two matches, and Naree Wongluekiet, one of the youngest, was forced to default from the U.S. Girls' Junior championship yesterday due to the recurrence of a chronic foot injury.

In this morning's semifinals (8: 30) at the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, Lorena Ochoa of Guadalajara, Mexico, will meet Abiecunas of Fort Collins, Colo., and unheralded Lindsay Morgan of Walla Walla, Wash., will play Aree Wongluekiet, Naree's twin sister, of Bradenton, Fla.

The 51st championship match, over a scheduled 18 holes, is set for 9 a.m. tomorrow. Both days are open to the public, free of charge, with nearby parking available.

Naree Wongluekiet retired in the 11th fairway, when she was unable to continue. Later, Aree said her sister had injured the left foot a year ago.

Green Spring member Mark Richardson, a physician on the staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital, examined her, and later reported: "She had a chronic injury and had seen doctors for it before. It was the result of the length of time she had been walking [a concentrated stretch in a short period of time] and she did not think she had enough lateral movement to continue playing."

Morgan, 17, 4 up at the time of the default, had taken command of the match when she won holes 3-4-5 with pars, and turned 3-up after holing a 40-foot bunker shot from beside the ninth green.

Morgan said: "I was more confident than usual, and my short game was working well. Also, although I have the length, I was hitting 4-wood and irons off the tees to keep the ball in play.

Abiecunas, 16, birdied the mentally demanding seventh and eighth holes in both rounds to set up a pair of 4 and 3 victories.

"I did a good job of focusing; playing the course and ignoring the other players," she said. "I feel good and my short game and puting were really good.

Abiecunas reached the quarterfinals two years ago, then was a first-round loser last year. "The ultimate goal, of course,is to win," she said. "But I at least wanted to do better than I had before. Over the last year, my game has progressed and I'm playing with more confidence."

No more than one hole separated Aree Wongluekiet and Mary Jan Fernandez of Henderson, Nev., in their afternoon match until the eventual winner took charge by winning three holes in a row -- the 11th and 12th with birdies -- to go 4-up through 13.

Fernandez, 17, staved off elimination with a win at the 14th, but she could do no more than halve the next two holes. "I was really nervous early, but I told myself to hang in there and maybe something would happen.

Wongluekiet, 13, said she didn't play so well, but hung on. "Those birdies helped get my confidence back, she said. Ochoa, 17, a first-round loser last year, reached the semifinals with a 4 and 2 win over medalist Candie Kung.

(Results, Page 4D)

Pub Date: 8/06/99

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