Alexandria, VA - Virginia sophomore golfer Elizabeth Brightwell (Nellysford, Va.) shot a qualifying-best 3-under-par 69 to earn medalist honors as stroke play qualifying concluded today at the 86th Virginia State Golf Association Women's Amateur Championship at Belle Haven Country Club.
Brightwell completed two-day qualifying with a 1-under 143 total and was the only competitor to post a 36-hole aggregate under par. The first and second rounds of match play are scheduled for Wednesday, July 13, with the quarterfinals and semifinals on Thursday, July 14. The scheduled 18-hole championship final is set for Friday, July 15.
Brightwell led the way, accounting for six birdies against two bogeys on day two in displaying a sound all-around game. She got off to a strong start, birdieing three of the first six holes. Brightwell holed a 25-footer at the par-5 first, made a short birdie putt at the next par 5, No. 4, before completing the early surge by making a birdie-2 at the par-3 sixth hole where she continued to wield a hot putter. There, her subtly breaking putt covered every bit of 40 feet before falling.
Brightwell finished the first nine at two under and added a birdie at the par-3 10th. Despite a bogey at the par-4 13th, she made a closing birdie at the demanding par-4 18th, knocking a 50-degree wedge from 76 yards to 4 inches to finish six strokes clear of the next-nearest qualifier for match play.
"Golf is a crazy game, so you're never really ‘in control' of the game out there," Brightwell said. "But I never got ahead of myself, so that was the key to not blowing up. I've stayed really steady."
A semifinalist in 2009 and a quarterfinalist last year, Brightwell has worked with her college coach, Kim Lewellen, and Charlottesville-area sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella in sharpening her mental game. She's also admittedly gained comfort by having her father, James, caddieing for her this week.
"In the past, I've tended to get afraid out there at times," Brightwell admits. "I'm really working on being fearless and a little tougher.
"[Dr. Rotella] is a smart person. Everything he says seems pretty obvious, but if you can follow him, you're much better off."
So far, the results have been obvious; she credits Lewellen with helping her take a more aggressive approach.
"I'm trying to be a little more go-for-the-jugular on the golf course - but not off it, of course," she said.
Note: Information for this release provided by the Virginia State Golf Association.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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