Lakareber Abe moved into position to become the first black female player to win a U.S. Golf Association individual championship, winning two matches Friday to advance to the 36-hole final in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.
The 17-year-old Abe, from Angleton, Texas, beat Kathleen Scavo of Benicia, Calif., 4 and 3 in the morning quarterfinals, and topped Bethany Wu of Diamond Bar, Calif., 1 up in the afternoon semifinals.
Abe, set to play at Alabama after her senior year in high school, Abe will face Gabriella Then in the final.
Then, the 17-year-old Upland, Calif., player who will be a freshman at Southern California, beat Yueer Feng of Orlando, Fla., 1 up in the semifinals, and edged Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass., 2 and 1 in the semifinals.
Abe took her first lead in the semifinal with a birdie at the par-5 12th, but bogeyed the par-3 13th to drop back to all square. Another birdie, at the par-4 16th, gave Abe the lead for good.
"I’ve been practicing really hard," Abe said. "To play well, it means a lot."
Abe also is trying to become the fourth black player to win a USGA individual title, following Bill Wright, Alton Duhon and Tiger Woods.
Abe and Then are good friends from their years on the American Junior Golf Association circuit. The teens roomed together at their last two events, the Scott Robertson Memorial — which Then won — and the Rolex Girls Junior Championship.
"At the end of the day, we’re both out there for the same thing," Abe said.
Then is playing her final junior event.
"It would put a cherry on top of my junior career," Then said.