Down by two heading into the back nine of the county championship tournament Tuesday at Hobbit’s Glen, Atholton’s Bryana Nguyen decided it was time for a change.
“I needed to start focusing on my own game, not what everyone else was doing … that’s why I had fallen behind in the first place,” she said. “I told myself it was just about playing the course on the back nine.”
The mindset adjustment did wonders, as the Atholton junior rolled off seven straight pars before closing with a birdie to shoot 49 points (5-over par) and earn a five-shot victory over Marriotts Ridge’s Rachel Lee (44 points).
It was the third straight county championship tournament title for Nguyen, who had fallen a shot short of Lee at the District Championship four days earlier.
“I learned a lot from Districts, because I did have a bad start there too,” Nguyen said. “I handled everything much better today.”
With Nguyen leading the way, Atholton also captured the team title as well for the first time in girls program history. Amanda Peterson, who tied for fourth individually with 37 points, Avni Johnson (30) and Maddie Fields (11) rounded out the team’s scoring on the way to 127 as a team.
Marriotts Ridge, led by Lee and Marissa Davey (37), ended up 36 points behind in second place with a total of 91.
“Everybody knows about Bryana and she’s a very accomplished golfer, but all these girls have worked so hard to get to this point,” Atholton coach Scott Robinson said. “This is only Amanda’s second-year playing and Avni is just beginning … their hard work has paid off.”
Nguyen and Lee both struggled out of the gates, making a double bogey each on the front nine and compiling season lows of 21 points at the turn. Nguyen’s round also included a triple bogey on the second hole.
Those struggles opened the door for Oakland Mills’ Samyra Lewis (third place, 43 points) and Atholton’s Peterson to jump ahead. Peterson put together 24 points on the front, while Lewis compiled 23.
By the 12th hole, however, Nguyen’s steady play began paying dividends.
Peterson triple-bogeyed No. 11 and doubled No. 12, while Lewis also double-bogeyed No. 12.
Even Lee couldn’t seem to really steady the ship, making bogeys on Nos. 10 and 12. She later made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 as well.
“It was just one of those days where nothing was working out,” Lee said. “I tried slowing down my tempo, but that didn’t really help. The ball was going everywhere. If I was going to have a day like this, though, I’m glad it happened now and not at states next week.”
With everyone falling back, Nguyen stayed steady. There weren’t many great shots, but not many bad ones either. And, on Tuesday, that’s all it took.
Nguyen provided an exclamation point to her round on her final hole, sticking her approach shot to within two feet and then making the putt for her first birdie of the day.
“Today I hit the greens, I just never hit it close enough to make birdies. The most frustrating thing was, playing this short of distance, I knew I could do it,” Nguyen said. “Finally on that last hole I was like I’m going to stick it so close that I can’t miss.”
Among the tournament’s other highlights were three birdies from Oakland Mills’ Lewis on her way to third place, along with a career-best 22 points from Marriotts Ridge’s Davey on the front nine.
In the team competition, Mt. Hebron ended up third with 53 points behind the play of Josephine Jung (26 points) and Hayley Baker (25).