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Gabriella Then followed her first-round 66 with a 68 to take a six-shot lead in the senior girls division into today's final round at Roanoke Country Club.
DON PETERSEN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Leader Gabriella Then tees off during the second round of play at the Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament on Saturday at Roanoke Country Club.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The girl named Then has suddenly become now at the 30th Scott Robertson Memorial.
Southern Californian Gabriella Then backed up a first-round 66 with a 68 Saturday to take a commanding six-shot lead into today’s final round of the 54-hole junior golf tournament at Roanoke Country Club.
“I’m going to try to stay in the 60s again [today],” said Then, a 17-year-old Chinese-American from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. “This is my last time here and I would love to win.”
For a player who said she “didn’t have a feeling at all” when boarding the plane Wednesday for the cross-country trip from the West Coast, Then has been nothing but a golfing machine so far. In two trips around RCC, Then has made nine birdies with only one bogey in posting a 36-hole total of 8-under-par 134.
Yueer “Cindy” Feng, who posted a second-round 69 and is one of four players tied for second at 140, basically conceded the tournament is over for those chasing the runaway leader.
“Six shots, that’s a lot!” said Feng, 17, who was born in China and now resides in Orlando, Fla. “I know Gabriella. She’s playing well, her scores the first two rounds are consistent.
“She was low round again today. So I don’t think she’s going to do anything too crazy. If I want to try anything, I have to go really low.”
Good luck on that. Then has exhibited no signs yet of cracking.
Coming off a clean card of 66 in Friday’s first round, Then opened Saturday’s round with her only bogey of the tournament.
“Actually, I got off to a rocky start, I bogeyed my first hole after having no bogeys the day before,” Then said.
“Then I just said to myself, ‘OK, you can get it back later, you have 17 more holes.’ I wasn’t paying attention after that.”
Little wonder. Then responded by ripping off birds at Nos. 6, 11, 15 and 16 to maintain her stranglehold on the 39-player field.
Pretty stout work for a girl who has played only two tournaments this spring. She posted a top-10 finish in the AJGA Heather Farr event in Arizona on Easter weekend and was part of a runner-up team that included LPGA Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth in the Legends competition at the Kraft Nabisco LPGA stop.
“I’m pretty like numb to everything that’s going on,” Then said. “It’s like everything is happening so fast. Actually, I felt like my swing was pretty compact and ready for the tournament season because I’ve been working on it for like four or five months now. I recently changed clubs so that gave me more confidence and I just thought I was swinging well.”
Then, who played in the 2011 Robertson, said she wasn’t thinking about coming to Roanoke until she received a tournament invitation in the mail in February.
“It said I met some of the criteria. I was on the Solheim Cup team so I think that’s how I got in. My first impression was I thought it would be a very good tournament for me. I didn’t have any tournaments to fill the gap. I’m glad I decided to come.”
Can anybody catch her today in what is predicted to be another rainy day at RCC? Besides Feng, the quartet in second includes Californian Andrea Lee (71), Mike Liu (71) of Bradenton, Fla., and Canadian Brooke Henderson (73).
“It is an edge but also it’s like you have no one in front of you and it’s like what goal do you have in front of you?” Then said. “It’s just keep moving forward, like one birdie at a time.”
Feng, who has been fighting back and hip problems the past two years, said she knows it’s going to take a card full of red numbers to haul down the leader.
“I’m going to have to be a little more aggressive than I would normally,” she said. “I would like to play smart aggressive, not just go for whatever. I don’t want to shoot a high number.
“I mean I don’t expect to shoot a 59 [today]. If I don’t do that and I try my best and I didn’t win, that’s fine, too.”
Chesterfield’s Lyberty Anderson (70), the 2009 14-and-under champion, and North Carolinian Lucia Polo (69) are tied for sixth, seven shots back.
Floyd’s Amanda Hollandsworth, who stunned onlookers, not to mention the boys’ contestants, by winning Friday’s long drive competition with a gargantuan poke of 306 yards, shot 78 and leads the Timesland contingent in 35th place at 159. Troutville’s Lyndsey Hunnell (81) is 37th, followed by Salem’s Kristin Hearp (81) in 38th and Roanoke’s Meagan Board (83) in 39th.
Lauren Kim of Woodstock, Md., continued to rule the girls’ 14-and-under class, shooting a second-round 73 for a 36-hole total of 147 that left her eight shots ahead of second-place Jennifer Chang (76) of Cary, N.C.
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