After busy week, Then prepares for Thunderbird
Gabriella Then is a busy girl.
After qualifying for her third U.S. Women’s Open last week in Beaumont, Calif., the 17-year-old hopped on a plane for a cross-country trip to Roanoke, Va. Then won the girls 15-18 division at the Scott Robertson Memorial Junior on Sunday with a 54-hole total of 8-under 205.
“It’s an exhausting week,” Then said. “I’m still trying to take it in. I mean, I just did all of that in five days.”
The demanding month continues for Then. She flew back home to Rancho Cucamonga, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, just in time to make it to class Monday morning. She heads out again on Wednesday for the AJGA’s first summer invitational, the Thunderbird International Junior, which begins Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz.
“In Virginia it was raining and it was Bermuda grass, and now I have to go back to the desert with fast greens,” Then said. “I just need to try, just hit it close.”
Friday marks Then’s third Thunderbird appearance. She shot 1-over 217 (71-75-71) and finished fifth in 2012. She finished 18th after shooting 9-over 225 (78-71-76) in 2011.
“I just want to finish my last Thunderbird on a good note and try to play like I’ve been playing,” she said.
Doing well at Thunderbird will round out Then’s impressive week. She missed the cut at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open Qualifier, but shared medalist honors at Oak Valley GC with UCLA senior Tiffany Lua last week. This year she feels “more ready than ever.”
“Last year was really a learning year,” Then said. “I wasn’t really having as much confidence as I am now because I was questioning some parts of my game and what I am actually good at.”
Greg Castleman, Then’s swing coach of more than five years, knew that focusing on Then’s mentality would be crucial in preparing for the 2013 qualifier.
“A lot last year when we started [was getting] her confidence back up, have her believe in the process and not deviate from it,” Castleman said. “About last month, it started coming around for her.”
“When that happened, everything opened up for her. She started playing great.”
This year’s Women’s Open will be another learning experience for Then, ranked No. 50 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings.
“Now that I have another chance to go, I’m stronger than what I was two years ago," Then said. "It’s given me more time to recoup and practice more on my game.”
The incoming USC freshman looks forward to finishing out her career as a junior this summer. Her plan is to graduate from Upland High School on June 7 before heading to the Women’s Western National Amateur Championship. Then also plans on playing the Women’s North and South Amateur Championship before heading to the U.S. Women’s Open, which will complete her transition from junior-level competition.
“I’m ready to play and show what I can do in those situations,” Then said. “I’m ready to play my game.”