U.S. GIRLS' JUNIOR
Khang/Then, Abe/Wu to meet for berths in championship final July 25, 2013 By Christina Lance, USGA

Gabriella Then defeated Yueer Fang, 1 up, to reach the Girls' Junior semifinals. (USGA/Fred Vuich)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Megan Khang, Gabriella Then, Lakareber Abe and Bethany Wu have reached the semifinals of the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being conducted at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.

Khang and Then notched 1-up victories over Sabrina Bonanno and Yueer Feng, respectively. Abe eliminated Kathleen Scavo, 4 and 3, while her afternoon opponent, Wu, knocked off Casie Cathrea by the same 4-and-3 margin. None of the victors ever trailed in their matches.

That doesn’t mean the outcomes were ever in doubt. Khang, 15, of Rockland, Mass., was never able to extend to more than a 2-up lead.

I made it more complicated than it had to be, said Khang, who is competing in her fifth U.S. Girls’ Junior. A few three-putts caused me to lose a hole, which bothered me.

But regardless of how she got there, reaching the semis for the first time in five tries was enough to bring a smile to Khang’s face.

It's awesome, she said. I'm hoping for good things.

Then, of Upland, Calif., is competing in her final Girls’ Junior before joining the University of Southern California women’s golf team in the fall. Today’s victory served as a redemption of sorts for the 17-year-old, who lost to Feng in the first round of the 2012 Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced Golf Club outside of San Francisco.

I knew what type of player she is, said Then of her opponent. I knew it was going to be close.

The match came down to the 18th green where Then, holding a 1-up lead, faced a long birdie attempt to take the outright win.

I was nervous, but thinking this is any other putt, said Then, who, along with Feng, competed in last month’s U.S. Women’s Open. I know the line, just hit it.

Then’s birdie putt stopped just a few feet short. But Feng was unable to hole out from the greenside bunker and conceded Then’s putt, sealing her 1-up victory.

Abe, 17, showed seemingly no struggles in her victory over Scavo, at one point holding a 5-up advantage. The Texan’s hole-out for eagle at the par-4 ninth sparked a roar from the small gallery following the match.

That really turned the match around for me, said Abe, who will attend the University of Alabama in the fall of 2014. It was a really good shot and put me into a more comfortable position going into the back nine.

Wu also showed no difficulties in her match with arguably the morning’s most daunting opponent, 2013 U.S. Women’s Open low amateur Cathrea. The 16-year-old from Diamond Bar, Calif., took the lead with a birdie at the par-5 second and never looked back, building a 6-up lead through 10 holes.

Cathrea sparked a small charge with a birdie at the par-4 11th and an eagle at the par-5 12th. But Wu, competing in her second Girls’ Junior, knew she still had the advantage.

I just tried to stay calm and tie every hole, not put too much pressure on myself, said Wu, who has verbally committed to attend UCLA in the fall of 2015. That plan worked, as Wu and Cathrea halved holes 13-15 to give Wu the 4-and-3 victory.

The Girls’ Junior winner and runner-up will earn exemptions into next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Abe and Khang have already qualified for the championship, while Then and Wu did not advance through sectional qualifying. Khang, at 15 the only remaining player with age eligibility, has earned a two-year exemption into the Girls’ Junior for reaching the semifinals.

Christina Lance is the assistant manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at clance@usga.org.

Results

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Results from Friday morning’s quarterfinal round of match play at the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, conducted at the 6,312-yard, par-72 Sycamore Hills Golf Club:

Upper Bracket

Megan Khang, Rockland, Mass. (151) def. Sabrina Bonanno, Norridge, Ill. (149), 1 up

Gabriella Then, Upland, Calif. (152) def. Yueer Feng, Orlando, Fla. (141), 1 up

Lower Bracket

Lakareber Abe, Angleton, Texas (146) def. Kathleen Scavo, Benicia, Calif. (142), 4 and 3

Bethany Wu, Diamond Bar, Calif. (148)  def. Casie Cathrea, Livermore, Calif. (153), 4 and 3

Pairings

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Pairings and starting times for Friday afternoon’s semifinal round of match play at the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, conducted at the 6,312-yard, par-72 Sycamore Hills Golf Club (All times EDT):

Upper Bracket

12:40 p.m. – Megan Khang, Rockland, Mass. (151) vs. Gabriella Then, Upland, Calif. (152)

Lower Bracket

12:30 p.m. – Lakareber Abe, Angleton, Texas (146) vs. Bethany Wu, Diamond Bar, Calif. (148)

 

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