Atholton’s Bryana Nguyen set for Junior PGA Championship

July 31, 2013

Atholton All-Met Bryana Nguyen won the Maryland state girls’ individual title in 2012. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

When the school year ends, Bryana Nguyen hits the road.

The Atholton All-Met golfer has learned to appreciate the summer grind, trying to squeeze as many tournaments as possible into her schedule. The courses and events change, but she’s logged enough trips in the family van with her father, Bach, at the helm over the past three years to develop a reliable routine.

“You’re living out of suitcases, basically,” said Nguyen, whose slate this summer includes tournaments in five states. “But I just have to keep focused and try to play every day as best as I can.”

With her senior high school season quickly approaching, Nguyen will stay close to home this week, playing in the 38th Junior PGA Championship at Trump National in Potomac Falls.

The North Carolina recruit earned her first appearance in the 72-hole tournament with a five-shot victory at a series event in Ohio earlier this month, a coveted spot in a field that includes 156 of the nation’s top 16-18 year old golfers – 78 boys and 78 girls.

Madison rising junior Shannon Brooks grabbed a place in the tournament after edging Nguyen in the Mid-Atlantic qualifier, and recent Gonzaga grad Addison Coll and Woodstock resident Jake Leavitt are in the field on the boys’ side.

“It’s good that we have two practice rounds to get ready,” Nguyen said by phone Monday from the practice range at Trump National. “I’m excited to see how it goes.”

Nguyen, 17, looks forward to her summer travels, which give her the chance to play new courses and explore the country. (This is the first summer she has her driver’s license and can take her turn behind the wheel.) Usually, she makes a West Coast trip each year, and she counts playing at Pebble Beach and touring Alcatraz among her favorite highlights.

Most tournaments are during the week, allowing her to spend weekends at home in Columbia relaxing or playing tourist.

“It’s a whole experience,” Nguyen said. “You don’t just focus on golf the whole time. You try to have a good balance.”

After orally committing to North Carolina last December, Nguyen entered this summer with one less worry on her mind. She picked the Tar Heels over Wake Forest and plans to sign a national letter of intent to accept a full athletic scholarship during the early signing period in November.

Nguyen had hoped her schedule would include a trip to Indiana for the U.S. Golf Association’s girls’ junior championship, but she ended up as an alternate after regional qualifying in Ohio and missed out on her fourth straight appearance in the national event.

She also missed the cut in her other national tournament during a busy month of July at the American Junior Golf Association’s Rolex Tournament of Champions in Pennsylvania.

She thought she’d miss out on this week’s event all together after falling to Brooks by two shots in the qualifying tournament at Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket. However, she followed up that disappointing result with an emphatic victory two weeks later in Ohio that included a final-day 72, the low round of the tournament.

Nguyen hopes that a strong close to her summer season will help her roll into the fall as she tries to defend her individual Maryland state title.

Last year, Nguyen needed to sink a 7-foot putt on her final hole to take the crown, following up two straight runner-up finishes. She’ll have a chance to repeat at states and also add a fourth straight county title to her resume.

“I always look forward to it,” Nguyen said. “High school golf has been so much fun for me.”

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