SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. (June 20, 2012) –– On a day when temperatures climbed into the high 90s in the commonwealth, northern Virginian Amanda Steinhagen, 20, shot a scorching championship-best 4-under-par 68 in the second round to own a seven-stroke lead entering Thursday’s final day of the 35th VSGA Virginias Women’s Stroke Play Championship at the at the 5,894, par-72 Fawn Lake Country Club.
After opening with 3-under 69, Steinhagen, a rising junior at Longwood University, owns a 7-under 137-under aggregate. Elizabeth Brightwell (Nellysford), 21, a rising junior at the University of Virginia, and 22-year-old central Virginian Hunter Ross of Manakin-Sabot, each shot 74 in the second round and are the leader’s closest pursuers. Brightwell is at even-par 144, while Ross stands at 1-over 145.
There seems to be no stopping Steinhagen (pictured right), who has led the event wire-to-wire and is the only player to return two consecutive rounds in red numbers. The 2010 and 2011 VSGA Women’s Amateur champion, Steinhagen is trying is trying to become the first player to own the Women’s Amateur and Women’s Stroke Play titles in the same rotation since former Virginia Beach resident Vikki Valentine accomplished the feat in 1991.
Steinhagen birdied four of the first seven holes to start her second round. She shot 4-under 32 on the outward half to get to seven under and built her lead to six strokes over Ross at the time.
Steinhagen found the perfect speed and line right from the start, draining a 35-footer for birdie at the par-4 first hole and two-putted for birdie at the par-5 third hole. She continued her hot putting round at the par-4 fifth, knocking in a right-to-left breaking uphill 12-footer, before zeroing in on the break and knocking in another long-distance putt at the par-4 seventh. She accounted for two birdies on the inward half to offset a pair of bogeys, making birdie putts of 23 and 15 feet at Nos. 13 and 14, respectively.
She’s used 61 putts through the first 36 holes. With new irons that she recently put in the bag, Steinhagen is playing with confidence and has had plenty of scoring opportunities, hitting 17 of 18 greens in regulation in the second round.
Always a sound ball-striker, Steinhagen has spent recent months polishing her wedge play and putting with the help of her coach, John Glorioso, a PGA professional at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. It’s proven to be time well-spent.
“I have a lot of confidence in my putting right now. My putting has been night and day. I’ve never rolled putts in like this in a couple of years easily, if ever. I’ve never made this many putts outside of 15 feet in my life,” Steinhagen said. “I’m just trying to get the speed right and the lines on my putts are so much better than they were compared to a couple of months ago. I hope it continues this way. I’ve hit a lot of greens, too, but rolling the putts has really helped.”
Even with a large lead, Steinhagen says she won’t alter her approach entering the final round. In the final round, she’ll be in the last group of three at 10:18 a.m., with Brightwell and Ross.
“I’ve seen people have bad final rounds and I’ve seen others have really good final rounds, so my mindset is the same as it’s always been – to play as consistently as I can,” she said. “I’m going to go out there, try to hit fairways and greens, not think about it and go as low as I can on [Thursday] like I did today.”
Brightwell opened with 2-under 70 and began the day a stroke off of Steinhagen’s pace, but shot two over on the outward half and fell seven off her fellow-competitor’s pace where she remained after a two-birdie, two-bogey second nine. Ross moved to three under following a birdie at the par-5 sixth hole, but was four over the rest of the way.
Among the competitors playing from a second set of tees (5,200 yards), Brenda Sites of returned a second round 84 (26-over 170) and is four strokes ahead of fellow Fredericksburg resident Grace Braxton (86 in the second round) and Becki Davis of Summerduck (88 on day two) entering the final day.
View results for Virginia Women's Stroke Play Golf Championship