The high school golf season doesn't officially kick off until the end of the month, but Atholton junior Bryana Nguyen's game appears to be already rounding into top form.
Competing in the Under Armour/Steve Marino Championship last week at Bethesda Country Club, an American Junior Golf Association event, Nguyen came from behind over the final nine holes to win the three-day tournament. It was the first career AJGA championship for the county's two-time reigning Player of the Year.
"I was so happy that I finally won one, especially since that was one of my main goals going into this year," Nguyen said. "It's definitely a big confidence boost for me going forward."
The championship for Nguyen was spurred on by making three birdies in a four-hole stretch on the back nine of the final day. That flurry helped her catch and pass second round co-leader Elyse Smidinger for the title.
Nguyen finished the tournament at 6-over-par (216) overall, one shot ahead of Smidinger, who is headed to play at the University of Denver in the fall. Smidinger is also a two-time Maryland state high school champion.
"The course was really tough, but I knew I could make birdies after how I had played the first day," said Nguyen, who had shot an opening round 67. "I started being a little more aggressive, going after a few more pins. Elyse is a really good competitor, so is Rachel Dai … this was definitely a big one to win."
Nguyen's 3-under-par opening round had helped offset her struggles on day two (77) and was a major reason she was in position to make the surge late on the final day.
Dai, a Georgia native who ranks among the top 50 in the latest Polo Golf national junior rankings, finished third with a 225 total.
On the boys' side, Centennial High School's Connor Flach also enjoyed his share of success, shooting a 1-under-par 69 on the final day to pull himself into a tie for fourth (220) overall. He ended up three shots behind champion Clay Brown.