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Chen Wins 2010 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship


Doris Chen survived playing 36 holes in stifling heat over three days to win the 2010 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship at the Country Club of North Carolina. The Bradenton, Fla., 17-year-old forged a 3-and-2 victory over 15-year-old Katelyn Dambaugh of Goose Creek, S.C., in the scheduled 36-hole championship final Saturday at the 6,331-yard Dogwood Course at CCNC.

Chen, who lost in the semifinals a year ago, knew she had the game to claim the championship. But it took a change in her mindset to finally lift her to the top. "This afternoon I really played in a different way than before," she said. "In the first round I was very serious. In the second round I was very relaxed."

In the morning 18, Chen made a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh for a 2-up lead. But Dambaugh cut into the lead with a birdie on No. 10 and squared the match with a par on No. 13. Two holes later, Dambaugh took her first lead of the match when Chen had trouble getting out of a fairway bunker.

After the lunch break, Dambaugh increased her lead to 2 up with a par on the 19th hole. But her lead evaporated in the searing heat when she lost holes 24 and 25.

"I was feeling great," said Dambaugh, who lost her caddie near the end of the final round due to heat exhaustion and blisters. "I don't know what happened. I hit a couple of bad shots, and for some reason, started getting down on myself. I started getting really tired."

Exhaustion was understandable as temperatures neared 100 and the heat index was around 110. During the break between rounds, Chen used her mother's umbrella to shield the sun.

Using a steady short game, Chen started to chip away at Dambaugh's lead. She made an 8-footer for birdie on the 23rd hole and squared the match when Dambaugh found trouble off the tee a hole later. But Dambaugh wasn't done. She again took the lead on No. 28 when she stuck her approach shot from the rough to 4 feet and made her birdie putt, her second of the match on that hole. But it would be her last lead of the day.

Bogeys by Dambaugh on the next two holes allowed Chen to turn a 1-down deficit to a 1-up advantage. But Chen was careful not to get ahead of herself.

"I didn't think of that in the afternoon," said Chen. "Even in the afternoon when I got back, 1 up, 2 up, I didn't feel like I was winning. I was just hitting my golf shots. I didn't really think about, 'Oh, maybe I can win this.' "

Chen made a 10-footer for birdie to win No. 32 and won the next hole on another bogey by Dambaugh. Chen made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole to put an exclamation point on the victory.

But the left-handed Dambaugh, who was playing in her first USGA championship, did not leave disappointed. "It's amazing," she said of her experience at CCNC. "I never even thought about getting this far. I'm so pleased with how I played. I'm just so blessed to even be here."

The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For more information, visit www.usga.org.