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Oh, baby! Winner hits 252-yard drive



Published: Wed, July 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The amateur player said her strategy was to keep the ball in the fairway.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

VIENNA -- When Sandra Thorbjorsen stepped to the tee, she was not alone. Along for the ride was her son, who has yet to be born.

Seven months pregnant, Thorbjorsen hit a 252-yard drive to win the amateur long-drive contest Tuesday at Squaw Creek Country Club.

The Beachwood resident, who was awarded $400 in prizes, bested a field of five other golfers that included locals Alex Casi of East Palestine (244 yards), Stephanie Matasek of Boardman (238) and Erica Blinzley of Hubbard.

Denise Barnholdt of Beaver Falls, Pa. (248), and Erin O'Dell of Hudson (207) also participated in the competition, which took place on the 385-yard first hole.

"I was pretty confident," Thorbjorsen said of her victory. "I've been hitting it pretty [well] these past couple of months."

Her strategy: Thorbjorsen, who started playing golf three years ago, said her strategy was to keep the ball in the fairway and just hope for the best.

"I just didn't know if the distance was going to hold," she said of her high mark, which was slightly better than her average driving distance.

Thorbjorsen's winning mark came on the second of four shots. The ball traveled well off the tee and made a slight fade before landing.

"I wasn't nervous today," said Thorbjorsen, who recorded the second-best mark in qualifying, 244 yards, behind Casi's 252. "I was very calm and extremely happy to see all the pros. I think that's what my focus was on."

Casi, a senior-to-be at East Palestine High, never seemed to get on track. After the state long jump champion hit a drive down the middle on her first attempt, she was out of bounds right on her final three shots.

Blinzley, the defending champion, also struggled, hitting her first three shots out of bounds and her final one low.

YSU senior: A senior-to-be at Youngstown State and a member of the Penguins golf team, Matasek sandwiched two shots out of bounds around two strong drives into the fairway.

"I did this last year, so I somewhat knew what to expect," Matasek said of the competition. "The nerves got me worse last year than this year."

Matasek admitted that she's not a long hitter, so her 238-yard drive was average for her.

A Boardman native, Matasek competed in the Public Links tournament in Illinois last month and the Ohio Women's Amateur tournament at Trumbull Country Club earlier this month.

"I might try to play out here next year. Hopefully, I'll qualify or get an exemption into it," Matasek said of the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic.




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