Kristina Wong skipped the 2007 Scott Robertson Memorial because she had to take a couple of high school final exams.
Now back on the scene at Roanoke Country Club a year later, Wong finds her herself assigned with another major test in today's final round of the 25th Robertson.
While the three players ahead of her on the scoreboard at the start of the day were suddenly stuck in reverse, Wong capitalized with a 2-under-par 69 Saturday to grab a two-shot lead.
Wong, who is 19th in the latest Golfweek/Titleist junior rankings, hopes to finish the deal on her first win in two years today. She has been beating on victory's door the past year, recording seven top-10 finishes, including a pair of seconds, in 12 junior events.
"It would be awesome to win," a grinning Wong said.
"It would be awesome to win any tournament, but this tournament is really great because I've played here so many times and so many big names have won it. Words can't even describe it."
Surviving swirling winds that turned RCC's short 5,714-yard course into much more of a beast than normal, Wong mixed four birdies with two bogeys to match Stephanie Kim and California's Christine Song for the day's low rounds. Kim is tied for second at 142 with Victoria Tanco, the 14-year-old from Argentina whose first- round 68 had her atop the field.
Song is alone in fourth, three shots off the pace.
"I'm just going to have the same game plan [today] as the past two days," said Wong, part of the contingent here from the IMG David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton, Fla. "It's been a while since I've been in this position. It shouldn't be any different ... just play my own game."
Kim, 16, a runner-up in the girls' 13-14 division two years ago, canned a 40-yard approach for an eagle-2 at the 323-yard, par-4 fourth hole and had it 5 under through 10 holes. Gusting winds, hitting 30 miles per hour at some points, then bit her heading to the clubhouse, as she bogeyed Nos. 15-17.
"I just didn't close the deal," she said. "This course is short, so we were thinking, 'oh, we're going to eat this course up.' Then the wind picks up, the rough is long, and if you don't make any putts out there it's not going to be fun."
Just ask Friday's trio of first-round par-busters. Saturday's final pairing of Tanco (74), Canadian Rebecca Lee-Bentham (79) and Blacksburg's Courtney Ellenbogen (77) was a combined 16-over after shooting a collective 6-under Friday. Little wonder, the last threesome finished some 25 minutes behind the next-to-last group.
"You were lucky you didn't have to see it," said Ellenbogen, managing a laugh after her highest-scoring round in a junior event in months.
"Yeah, we were way behind. We were never put on the clock and I was surprised. It was just a combination of poor play, a couple of [officials'] rulings, and it all added up pretty quickly."
Ellenbogen, bidding to become the first Roanoke-area player to win one of the Robertson's featured older divisions since Floyd's Susan Slaughter in 1987, saw her round sabotaged by a pair of front- nine double bogeys. She hit her tee shot into the water at the 150- yard, par-3 fifth, then had to take a penalty stroke for an unplayable lie against a fence on the par-5 eighth. She turned in 6- over 41, then had to battle to finish with pair of sevens for a score.
"The whole game wasn't really there," she said. "The ball- striking was fairly awful, I'd say. Nothing was good."
Ellenbogen's 147 total left her seven shots back in eighth place. In order to have any shot to win, she will have to go real low today. Of course, she's capable. After opening 78-71 last year, she fashioned a 65 in the final round to finish fourth.
"I could definitely do it again," she said. "I'm never going to take myself out of it, so I'll just go for it [today]."
Maybe a little dancing will help out.
"I'm going to the prom [Saturday night] and have some fun," the 17-year-old Blacksburg High junior said. "That will be much more fun than this was."
Floyd's Jessica Hollandsworth, who had a first-round 72, was even through 10 holes Saturday before taking a double bogey-6 at the short 328-yard, par-4 11th. The Floyd County High senior came home in 74, tied for fifth with Californian Katie Sylvan (72) and last year's runner-up, Marina Alex (74) of New Jersey.
"I just couldn't get it going on the back. Now I have to come out and shoot in the 60s [today]. Hey, you never know," said Hollandsworth, making her final Robertson appearance.
Tanco, whose first-round 68 easily could have easily been a couple of strokes lower, made the turn Saturday in 5-over 40, but played the final nine in 1 under to ensure she will be in today's final group.
"I play bad because I didn't putt good and my driving wasn't good," she said. "I have to play good [today] so I can win."
Isabelle Lendl won't win today. The two-time defending champion is tied at 149 with her younger sister, Daniella, who struggled to a 78.
Marika Lendl, the third daughter of ex-pro tennis star Ivan Lendl who won here in 2004, soared to a 77 and is tied for 21st at 151.
Roanoke's Meredith Swanson struggled to an 80 Saturday and fell to 27th, 14 shots back.
Scott Robertson Memorial
Girls' round 2 leaderboard (Par 71)
Kristina Wong 71-69 -- 140
Stephanie Kim 73-69 -- 142
Victoria Tanco. 68-74 -- 142
Christine Song 74-69 -- 143
Katie Sylvan 74-72 -- 146
Jessica Hollandsworth 72-74 -- 146
Marina Alex 72-74 -- 146