Atholton’s Bryana Nguyen had made two eagles and three birdies through the first 17 holes of this year’s District V Championships, yet as she stared down a 20-footer for par on her closing hole she found herself in what she called a must-make situation.
If she missed and Marriotts Ridge’s Rachel Lee made her birdie putt from just outside 10 feet, the duo would be heading for a playoff for the second time in two weeks.
“That eagle on the hole before was huge, but that putt for par on the last hole was definitely the big one,” said Nguyen, who had lost to Lee in a playoff at the county championship tournament Oct. 8. “I had hit my drive way left and had to take a drop so I started panicking, especially when she knocked it close for birdie. I think I almost gave my dad a heart attack.”
But, as she has so many times during her stellar four-year career, Nguyen delivered.
Making her putt, she secured a one-under-par round of 69. Lee, knowing the tournament was out of reach, two-putted and finished alone in second with a one-over-par score of 71.
Lee had held the lead several times during the course of the round, but was ultimately undone by a double bogey on No. 15. She never held the lead after that, although she did grind it out to create the opportunity on the final hole that forced Nguyen to deliver in the clutch.
“Honestly, something was off all day for me and I felt like I was constantly having to fight back. But I guess I kept trying to tell myself it was a new hole and a new shot and that kind of pulled me through,” Lee said. “It’s like I hit just enough good shots to keep myself close.”
Behind Nguyen and Lee, Howard County produced six of the next seven girls individual finishers as well. Of the 14 girls that qualified individually for states by shooting 93 or better, 11 were county players.
Marriotts Ridge’s Lauren Kim, who actually had herself a share of the lead at one-over par thru 13 holes, finished third with a 74. Atholton’s Avni Johnson (77) was fourth, Oakland Mills’ Samyra Lewis tied for fifth (79) and Atholton’s Amanda Petersen placed seventh (80).
Early on, it actually looked like Nguyen might run away with it. She bounced back from two bogeys to start her round with a birdie on No. 4 and then an eagle on No. 5 to grab a quick two-shot lead on the girls field.
But before she could capitalize on that momentum, she drove it in a bunker on the sixth hole and made another bogey.
“I thought that eagle on No. 5 was going to get me going and be a turning point, but then I came back and totally messed up on No. 6,” Nguyen said. “Most of the round was like that, I kept giving strokes back after I had a good hole.”
Despite the roller coaster round, Nguyen still had the lead by a stroke going into the final two holes. And it was there, on her second to last hole, that she delivered one of her championship moments.
Her second shot into the par 5 18th hole nearly holed out, settling just a couple feet away for a tap-in eagle. Lee made a birdie on the same hole, but still found herself trailing by two and without enough time to come back.