Third time is the charm for Atholton's Nguyen at girls golf state championship

Her hands shaking and mind racing, Atholton Bryana Nguyen held her breath as she watched the ball roll toward the cup on the 18th hole of this year's state championship tournament.

She'd waited three years for that moment, yet that didn't stop the nerves from taking over.

"It was incredibly nerve-wracking," said Nguyen, whose five-foot putt on the final hole at the University of Maryland Oct. 24 was to clinch the title. "I was honestly shaking because I wanted to make that putt so bad."

So as the ball disappeared into the cup, securing a one-shot victory over Wootton's Delaney Shah, the Raiders' junior let the emotions take over.

After finishing runner-up at states each of her first two years in high school, Nguyen finally had her championship.

"A weight has definitely been lifted off my shoulders," Nguyen said. "Coming into this round, knowing that I was tied, I felt like I had to win basically. I couldn't be runner-up again."

Nguyen ended up shooting an even-par round of 71 to close out the tournament and finished with a two-day total of 144. Shah ended up one back of Nguyen, her Wootton teammate Allison Wong was two behind and Marriotts Ridge's Rachel Lee (148) finished four back.

Oakland Mills' Samyra Lewis (seventh at 161) was the county's only other girl in the top 10.

There had been a four-way tie at the top heading into the final round, with Nguyen, Shah, Wong and Lee all opening the tournament with 73s.

Early on during the final round, however, it appeared Nguyen might separate herself a little bit from the field. After opening with a par, she birdied her second hole to quickly go ahead by two.

As would become a theme, though, she gave one of those strokes back with a bogey on the very next hole.

"After making a birdie on No. 2, I honestly thought I was going to go out and shoot a couple under par," Nguyen said. "But this whole day I couldn't seem to back up my birdies with a couple pars to keep the momentum going."

For the day, Nguyen ended up with four birdies and four bogeys.

Lee never held the lead during the final round after making a bogey on her first hole, but she also kept herself within two shots of the leaders until the final two holes. A stretch of 11 straight pars during the middle of her round went a long way.

"I kept it steady and that kind of helped me stay right around the lead," Lee said. "They were making birdies and bogies, but I was just making par after par."

Lee was still within striking distance when she got to the par 3 eighth hole, her 17th of the day, but a double bogey dropped her out of contention.

"I definitely lost my concentration, which I had done a really good job with until then," Lee said.

Nguyen ended up coming to the last hole ahead by one and ended up with a five-foot uphill putt for par. Once Shah missed her birdie putt to finish at 145 overall, all Nguyen had to do was make it to secure the title.

In front of a large crowd gathered around the green, she sunk the ball dead center.

"It took me awhile to finally get this first state win, but now that I did it, it feels amazing," Nguyen said. "Hopefully I can come back and do it again next year."

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