With Annika Invite lead, Wu has reason to be excited

Bethany Wu (file photo)

Bethany Wu (file photo)

Girls Rankings »

#NameYearStateRating
1Andrea Lee2016CA69.34
2Nicole Morales2014NY69.75
3Bethany Wu2015CA69.79
4Megan Khang2015MA69.94
5Lakareber Abe2014TX70.19

REUNION, Fla. – If you know Bethany Wu only by her Twitter handle, then you might expect that the 16-year-old has a good sense of humor. She added a few extra vowels to the end, and now is known as @bethwuuuuu.

Wu’s game merits equal attention, and through two rounds at the AJGA Annika Invitational, there have been many reasons to “woo.” The Diamond Bar, Calif., native is leading the tournament in this, her third start, by two shots. She is at 5-under 139 after two rounds at Reunion Resort’s Watson course.

Wu offers a big grin at talk of her upbeat Twitter handle, and then she displays the same quality in her personality. Wu seems to be able to find the positive in any situation. The key to succeeding at Reunion is learning to make use of the rolling mounds that border many a green and fairway. Said Wu, “It helps me because of the uneven fairways. Sometimes I hit wayward shots, and they just kick it back in.”

Wu had four birdies in her second-round 1-under 71. Increased attention to her iron play and short game have resulted in better results for Wu, and a victory at the Annika could be huge for her career. Wu already has given a verbal commitment to play golf for UCLA beginning in the fall of 2015.

“Be aggressive, it’s the last day,” Wu said of her strategy for the final round.

She may like to be the chaser better than the chasee, but Wu has had success in this situation before. She entered the final round of the AJGA Junior at Centennial last summer with a two-shot lead, and increased it to five by the end of the day. Big finishes for Wu in the last six months include a third-place finish at the Ping Invitational and a trip to the semifinals at the Polo Golf Junior Classic. Each success helps increase her confidence.

On Monday, fellow Californian Amy Lee and Denmark national team member Emily Pedersen will be playing the role of chaser. Both players are at 3-under 141 through two rounds.

Pedersen was part of an entirely international pairing for the second round that included Annika Invitational Europe winner Linnea Strom of Sweden (T-4) and Virginia Elena Carta of Italy (T-11). It amounted to a show of powerful and aggressive golf. Pedersen’s 1-under 71 helped her hold her position near the top of the leaderboard.

Pedersen hit 17 greens on Sunday, but had trouble making putts fall. She felt pressure from her opponents immediately, after Strom knocked her approach to 3 feet at the par-5 first and made birdie. Pederson made her birdie from 5 feet at that hole.

“It’s so fun to play in a group where everyone hits it long and everyone hits it close to the pin,” she said.

Pedersen is missing the first part of a practice camp for the Denmark team in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to play in this, her first Annika Invitational. She won the Doral Publix Junior earlier this month then finished T-4 at the Junior Orange Bowl. Pedersen flew home to Denmark for about 10 days, then returned to Florida for this event. Her gallery at Reunion Resort consisted of Denmark national teammate Charlotte Lorentzen, a Georgia State standout who graduated last spring.

Pedersen could learn from some time spent with Lorentzen, but this week it’s about what the tournament’s namesake had to say.

“That inspired me so much that (Annika) said every tournament she thought she could win, and especially the thing about never giving up,” Pedersen said. “People always tell me I’m a fighter and it’s kind of like the same thing I do.”

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