By Garry Smits
PONTE VEDRA, FL (June, 25, 2011) -- It was the most dominating performance in the 111-year history of the Women's Western Amateur and Sawgrass Country Club head professional Greg Lecker said the play of 17-year-old Victoria Tanco might never be duplicated by a woman on a First Coast golf course.
"I don't think anyone will ever see someone play Sawgrass the way she did this week," Lecker said of Tanco's 13 and 12 victory over Emma Lavy Saturday to win the WWA championship. "This is not an easy course but she made it look easy."
Tanco, a native of Argentina and the sixth-ranked women's amateur player in the world, birdied her first two holes and three of her first four. She never looked back after that in beating Lavy, a rising sophomore at Arkansas and the 23-ranked amateur in the world.Tanco led Lavy 5-up at the turn, 10-up through the first 18 holes of the 36-hole championship, and won the first two holes of the second round. She closed the match out four holes later with a par at the par-3 sixth hole.
Tanco shot 5-under-par 67 in the first 18 holes and made only one bogey in the 24 holes she and Lavy played. Tanco hit 15-of-18 fairways, 19-of-24 greens and never relinquished the tee box. She won holes with birdies, pars and even won a hole with her only bogey of the day.Lavy had a good start, parring her first five holes.
She was still 3-down at that point.
"That's tough to overcome," she said. "I didn't play bad to start but she was great from the beginning. She deserves it. She's that good."Tanco led all 42 holes of her final two matches and made only three bogeys during that span. She birdied the first hole Friday and went on to beat Madison Pressel 1-up in a semifinal match that wasn't that close. Tanco then took a lead over Lavy she would never yield when she made her first two birdie putts Saturday.
"I never thought it would be easy," said Tanco, whose amateur victories prior to Saturday were seven titles on the American Junior Golf Association. "I played really good, didn't make any mistakes and [Lavy] couldn't get anything going with her putter. When I start out well, I get more confident as the round goes on. I feel better about shooting at my targets and I make more putts. It carried over on every hole."
Tanco served notice during the first round of stroke-play qualifying Monday when she broke the women's competitive course record at Sawgrass with a 6-under 66. Of a possible 72 holes that her last three matches could have lasted, she got her work done in 58 holes.Watching in awe was caddie Ruben Yorio, who has looped for Angel Cabrera when he won the 2009 Masters and for Alvaro Quiros when he won the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year.Yorio likes what he sees out of Tanco.
"She could improve her short game but when she hits her irons and hits greens the way she did today, it's awesome," Yorio said. "And close, every time, 3, 4, 6 feet."
Tanco likely will forego college golf and make a run at the LPGA qualifying process which begins later this summer. Her next stop is Colorado Springs, Colo., next month where she will play in her fourth U.S. Women's Open."That will show her how much she needs to do to get ready for the LPGA," Yorio said. "But I think she has a good chance of making it."Here's another clue besides a caddie's experienced eye: Tanco was the fourth player in the history of the AJGA to win female player of the year in back-to-back years (2008 and 2009). The first three — Vicki Goetze, Kellee Booth and Beth Bauer — wound up on the LPGA Tour.
Is she ready? She looked it at Sawgrass