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Cathrea keeps her cool, wins Women’s Porter Cup

LEWISTON — Casie Cathrea walked off the green after her final hole Friday at the Women’s Porter Cup furious with herself.

She had just flown the green and made double bogey, finishing off a round of 2-over-par 73 at Niagara Falls Country Club.

But a mediocre final nine didn’t come close to erasing the brilliance Cathrea displayed over her first 27 holes. The 17-year-old from Livermore, Calif., will go down in history as the winner of the first-ever Women’s Porter Cup, shooting a two-round total of 4-under 138. Cathrea opened the tournament with a sterling round of 6-under 65 Wednesday, then watched it rain Thursday as the second round was canceled and the event reduced from 54 to 36 holes.

“My approach and my mind-set was pretty much to go out there and play like it’s any other day,” Cathrea said. “I knew today was going to be harder for me because I was trying to follow up a 65 with another 65.”

She looked like she was on her way after making birdie on two of her first three holes. In an effort to give the half of the course that’s slower to dry more time, tournament organizers flipped the nines and had players go off the 10th tee to start their rounds. Cathrea made birdies at the par-5 11th and 13th holes, being around the green in two shots and chipping to about 5 feet each time.

She followed that with a near double eagle on the par-5 17th hole (which was converted from a par-4 for the men), hitting a 3-wood from 215 yards to 15 feet past the hole. Her eagle putt stopped on the edge, leaving a tap-in birdie.

“I kind of tried to keep my eyes off of our walking scoreboard, because I’m definitely known for giving strokes back to the field,” Cathrea said. “So I just tried to keep in my own little zone.”

Dressed Rickie Fowler-style all in orange for her soon to be collegiate home of Oklahoma State, Cathrea ran into some trouble after the turn.

“I think I got in my own way on the start of the back nine, because I went par, bogey, bogey,” she said. “I was trying to get back into it. I was leaving my putts short and I was like, ‘What are you doing? You have holes left, just try and finish it.’ ”

After hitting the fairway on the par-4 ninth hole, Cathrea was in between a hybrid and a 4-iron.

She went with hybrid on the advice of her father and caddie, Harry, but with the adrenaline pumping, airmailed it.

“Then I missed an easy 6-foot putt up the hill. I’m like, ‘Dude just get it over with. Get off the green.’ ”

She did, straight to the winner’s ceremony.

“She’s awesome. She hits it so far,” said Krista Puisite, a 22-year-old native of Latvia who played in the final group with Cathrea. “You can see her technique is really good. She also has the confidence. She’s not afraid to go for it.”

Cathrea will fly home to California to graduate from high school Wednesday, then crisscross the country again next Saturday to play in the U.S. Women’s Open June 27-30 at Southampton on Long Island.

Cathrea finished with a three-stroke victory over 21-year-old Prima Thammaraks (69-72-141) and five shots clear of a tie for third place between Puisite (68-75-143), Samantha Troyanovich (70-73-143) and Laura Wearn (73-70-143).

“I think we were fortunate to get two of the three days in, quite frankly,” tournament director Brian Oakley said. “The tournament was an overall success.

“I’ve never seen so many appreciative young ladies. I just figured that this was just another golf tournament at a country club for them. They don’t view it like that. They said ‘there’s not that many opportunities for us.’ It’s much different than the men and the boys.

“We’re pretty confident that it’s going to grow if we do decide to go forward with it. Based on the reaction, it would be difficult to tell anyone no.”

Oakley said the NFCC membership will meet sometime soon to discuss the future of the tournament.

“What we’ll do is go to the membership, we’ll get the good, the bad and the ugly, and we’ll just analyze that,” he said, “to make sure if we did go forward with it, it’s the right thing and the members support it. They’ve been very supportive so far.”

Cathrea was already looking forward to defending her title.

“It’s a great honor to be the first-ever Women’s Porter Cup winner,” she said. “This will definitely be one of the tournaments I talk about and will look forward to coming back to next year.”

Rene Sobolewski was the highest local finisher, 17th in the 39-player field, after shooting rounds of 75-77.

Reigning Section VI champion Chelsea Dantonio, a 15-year-old junior at Lancaster in the fall, finished in a tie for 29th after shooting consecutive rounds of 81.

Dantonio went right from signing her scorecard to the clubhouse at NFCC, where she took a Regents trigonometry exam.

“Some reward, huh?” she joked. “They brought it out to me.”