FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Gabriella Then won the U.S. Girls' Junior on Saturday, spoiling Lakareber Abe's bid to become the first black female individual champion in U.S. Golf Association history.
Then, the 17-year-old Upland, Calif., player who will be a freshman at Southern California, beat Abe 2 and 1 in the 36-hole final at Sycamore Hills.
The 17-year-old Abe, from Angleton, Texas, missed a chance to join Tiger Woods, Bill Wright and Alton Duhon as the only black individual winners in USGA play.
Then had a five-hole lead through 22 holes, but Abe rallied to tie it with four holes to play. Then finished off the match with a birdie on the 35th hole.
"I finally did it, a USGA championship," said Then, competing in her 11th USGA championship. "To be able to have my game where it is right now and be able to make it this far is great."
Abe will be a senior in high school and plans to attend Alabama in 2014.
"I just kept telling myself to keep fighting," said Abe, who will attend the University of Alabama in the fall of 2014. "Gabby could hit a good shot at any time, so I just told myself to keep on playing, try to keep making birdies and see what happens."
Both players earned spots in the U.S. Women's Amateur next month in South Carolina.