U.S. GIRLS' JUNIOR
Doing Good and Playing Well, Abdulghany Builds on Experiences
July 19, 2016 | Paramus, N.J.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
Alyaa Abdulghany is inclined to measure her golf results in terms of intangibles, such as her ability to concentrate on one shot at a time, or to shake off a bad shot and not let it affect the next one.
Lately, the traditional method of adding up the totals on the scorecard has been a pretty reliable gauge as well. On Monday, Abdulghany posted a 3-under-par round of 70 to put her in good position to advance to match play in the 68th U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.
Abdulghany, 17, of Newport Beach, Calif., qualified as the No. 48 seed in the 64-player bracket last year in her first Girls’ Junior at Tulsa (Okla.) Country Club, then won a pair of matches in 20 holes before losing in the Round of 16. Her mantra this year is based on that experience.
“My goal is to win, obviously – every player wants to win,” said Abdulghany, who plays out of Oak Creek Golf Club, in Irvine. “I’m just trying to get through stroke play and then I’ll try to win all of my matches.”
Abdulghany has been a very busy player over the past 15 months. She reached the semifinals of the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Bandon Dunes with partner Ellen Takada. She was one of three players chosen to represent the USA last fall in the second World Girls’ Junior Championship in Canada. There, Abdulghany tied for 12th in the individual competition behind winner Hye-Jin Choi of Korea, the low amateur in the U.S. Women’s Open two weeks ago who is also in this week’s Girls’ Junior field, and the USA placed fifth behind Korea, Denmark, Sweden and France.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Abdulghany of the world championship, which was contested at The Marshes Golf Club in Ottawa, Ontario.
In November, she established a women’s competitive course record at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif., with a round of 69 en route to a two-stroke victory in the state high school championship, representing Corona del Mar High School.
Abdulghany also won the AJGA Junior at Carlton Oaks in April, placed second in the Thunderbird International Junior in May, and will compete for the second time for the West Team in the Wyndham Cup next week. She has also carved out time to work with Leadership Links, an AJGA initiative that encourages its players to devote their talents to charitable giving and community service.
“I put together a brochure to help raise funds for the local children’s hospital, for kids who are in need,” said Abdulghany, who was born in Malaysia and moved to the U.S. when her father took a job here. “I also helped raise money for ACE grants, to help players who can’t afford the travel fees to compete in [AJGA] tournaments.”
In recognition of her efforts, which raised more than $2,000, Abdulghany earned honorable-mention recognition for the 2015 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award. The ACE (Achieving Competitive Excellence) Grant program was launched in 2001 by the AJGA to provide opportunities for players who lack the financial resources to compete in national golf events and has provided more than $2.5 million in funding to players.
Abdulghany, who has committed to enroll at the University of Southern California next fall, is a big fan of the A.W. Tillinghast design at Ridgewood, which employs a composite of the course’s three nines for this week’s championship. It is made up of the same 18 holes used for The Barclays, a PGA Tour playoff event that has been held at Ridgewood three times, with a fourth edition slated for 2018.
“I love the golf course,” Abdulghany said on Monday. “I liked the windy conditions, the fast greens – it was really nice.”
Abdulghany reeled off three consecutive birdies late in her first round on the way to her score of 70.
“All the parts of my game were really good,” she said. “It was really about taking it one shot at a time, making sure that I gave it my best, and even if I didn’t do well, to just forget about it and go to the next hole. I’m concentrating a lot on sticking to my routine.”
It’s a formula that seems to be working very well for Alyaa in both her golf and charitable endeavors.
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.