Style could decide today's title matchup

It's Abiecunas experience vs. Wongluekiet precision

U.S. Girls' Junior

August 07, 1999|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The 51st annual U.S. Girls' Junior championship at 9 this morning at the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club will be a study in contrasts.

Nancy Abiecunas, 16, and seemingly on a championship mission, will pit her experience and skill against Aree Wongluekiet, 13, whose no-margin-for-error game belies her lack of experience.

Abiecunas, from Fort Collins, Colo., a head taller than her 5-foot-3 final-round foe and quarterfinalist two years ago, won the first hole of her semifinal match with a birdie and was not headed in eliminating Lorena Ochoa, of Guadalajara, Mexico, 3 and 1.

In the opposite half of the draw, Wongluekiet, from Bradenton, Fla., went in front with a birdie at the second hole, and, although never out of the lead, was extended to the 18th green before subduing Lindsay Morgan, of Walla Walla, Wash., 1 up.

Abiecunas, 3-up on two occasions on the front nine, was in position to expand her margin a couple of times but couldn't do it. Two up at the turn, she lost the 10th hole to a par and halved 11 in bogeys, missing a short putt and then an even shorter one back.

The margin went back to 2-up on 13 when Ochoa, having been previously warned, was called for undue delay.

Ochoa, 17, Mexican Women's Amateur titlist, responded by hitting her second shot to 15 feet at the 14th, which she won with a conceded par.

Back came Abiecunas, winner of two American Junior Golf Association events this summer. She won the 15th with a par and collected the winning margin with a conceded birdie at the 17th green.

"Things got a little bumpy in the middle of the round, but where I figure I gave her one with that three-putt at 11, she gave it back with the ruling," the winner said. "At 14, I don't have that bunker shot."

From a fairway bunker on the right, she flew the green at the testy 284-yard hole, needed two to get to surface, and, after two putts, conceded. Of the ruling, Ochoa said, "I didn't think it was fair. I had 185 yards out of the rough to the green, and I did what I normally do in that situation."

Wongluekiet, 2-up after two birdies on the front, went to three with a par at the 10th before Morgan, 17, put forth a challenge.

The golf-basketball standout who is headed for her senior year of high school, birdied the 11th and 12th holes and made two great putts for halves at 16 (from 10 feet after her foe made it from 20) and 17 (from 8 feet after botching a chip shot).

At 18, Wongluekiet apparently opened a door when her downhill 20-foot putt rolled 9 feet past the cup, but then she slammed it shut by doing what she had been doing most of the week -- rolling a crucial putt into the hole.

"We both played pretty good. It was up to the putting," said the winner. "It was endurance, and I had to keep grinding, because she wasn't going to make any mistakes."

Morgan said she told herself to get going after falling 3-down.

Pub Date: 8/07/99

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