By CRAIG DOLCH
Special to South Florida PGA
NAPLES (July 25, 2021) – Vilda Westh-Blanc said it felt like a blackout. The rest of the field at the Patty Berg Junior Championship was rubbing its eyes after she posted an 8-under 64 Sunday to win the girls title by 13 shots.
Westh-Blanc, a 16-year-old who splits her time in Palm Beach Gardens and Tennessee, shot her career-best round at Cypress Lake Golf Club, bettering Saturday’s previous best of a 67.
“It was almost like a blackout,” Westh-Blanc said. “I looked at a putt and I holed it. It’s not something I can explain. It just happened. My mind and my body were completely in synch.”
Eman Lim of Lake Worth shot 2-under 70 to win the boys title by two shots at 2-under 214. Lim birdied his next-to-last hole, the par-3 eighth, and parred the ninth to hold off Michael Bevins (71-216) of Fort Myers, Manuel Cue Vargas (73-216) and Bennett Stone (73-216) of Jupiter.
Westh-Blanc has a diverse background. She is half Swedish and half French. She was born in Morocco, spent time in Cypress and now lives with her family on a boat in Florida. She is home-schooled.
Her game travels. She rebounded from an opening 75 to become the only player in the field to break 70 either day after making 15 birdies in the last 36 holes.
“The difference was putting,” she said. “I even had a four-putt the first day. I had switched to the claw grip and it took a little adjustment."
“I played a lot of golf in 2019, but not much last year. This is my first win of the year, though I can’t remember how many I’ve had in my career. It feels to have this one pay off.”
Sofia Cherif Essakali of Miami was second at 74-219, two ahead of Gabriella Albert (73-221) of Delray Beach.
The Patty Berg is one of the junior majors in the South Florida PGA. The event is named after the LPGA Hall of Famer who was a strong advocate of junior golf and was a co-founding member at Cypress Lake. This year, the golfers were treated to milkshakes after their round.
The Patty Berg Junior Championship is run by the South Florida PGA and the Southwest Florida Junior Golf Association. Supporting partners are the Honda Classic, Don Law Golf Academy, Titleist, The Fun Group at Mirasol, Junior Golf Hub, Tee Times News, Loyal Auto Broker, OGIO, TimberTech Championship, Biolyte, FGCU, ASM Scholarships and First Tee-Florida Gold Coast.
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