PINEHURST, N.C. – Doris Chen of Bradenton, Fla., didn’t need to hit it farther than her opponents during the U.S. Girls Junior Championship. Once she was near or on the greens, she took care of business.
Chen won four of five holes during one late stretch to beat Katelyn Dambaugh of Goose Creek, S.C., 3 and 2 in the finals of the U.S. Girls Junior Championship on Saturday.
“I’m used to it,” Chen said of others hitting longer drives. “My putting was really good the last five holes.”
Chen, 17, made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 No. 16 to close the match and win the title at The Country Club of North Carolina.
Dambaugh put her tee shot about half as close on that hole, but she never had the chance to putt again.
“She made it and it was like, ‘Wow,”’ the 15-year-old Dambaugh said. “But she deserved it.”
Chen was seeded 57th out of 64 after stroke-play qualifying earlier in the week and defeated medalist Danielle Kang of Thousand Oaks, Calif., in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Dambaugh, aiming to become the first left-handed female golfer to win a U.S. Golf Association national event, led 2-up through 19 holes of the scheduled 36-hole match and held a one-hole edge with eight to play.
Chen, a 2009 semifinalist, said she decided to relax.
“I was just going to enjoy it and continue to play,” she said.
Dambaugh suffered from some miscalculations around the greens down the stretch. She said fatigue contributed to her sudden difficulties.
“The second round I started to get nervous,” she said. “I hit a couple bad shots and started getting down on myself.”
Chen said she found a way to combat the afternoon heat.
“I just (used) my mom’s umbrella,” she said. “I said, ‘Mom, you can walk under the trees.”’
Dambaugh called it her best golf experience despite the result.
“I never expected anything like this,” Dambaugh said. “I’m so pleased with how I played.”
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