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Gabriella Then discusses national championship

Then won the U.S. Girls' Junior at Sycamore Hills Golf Club.

Shifting from amateurs

– Don’t rule anything out, but Sycamore Hills Golf Club likely won’t be holding any national amateur championships for a while.

The club has the Hotel Fitness Championship, part of the Tour’s finals, for the next three years – it will be Aug. 26 to Sept 1 this year – and that’s plenty.

“I learned a long time ago the world is round and we will remain open to all possibilities,” said Eric Schneider, the general manager at Sycamore Hills.

“(But) we are going to focus on the for the next three years.”

Gabriella Then of Upland, Calif., won the United States Golf Association’s Girls’ Junior Championship on Saturday with a 2-and-1 victory in a 36-hole match with Lakareber Abe of Angleton, Texas.

That concluded six days of play and was the latest in a series of national championships for Sycamore Hills, which played host for the USGA’s Women’s State Team Championships in 2009 and the PGA of America’s Junior PGA Championship in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

“This has been very successful,” Schneider said Saturday.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the level of competitiveness. It was certainly a kick-up over the Junior PGA.

“And from our standpoint, I think we had an unbelievable week of weather and it showcased the club, the town. So, it’s been a very positive experience.”

Schneider couldn’t estimate how many spectators attended the event.

“This event is more about family, friends and associates than it is about spectators,” he said.

“But we’ve had a nice response from the membership and people who have gotten used to following junior golf from the previous tournaments, and they’ve been treated to unbelievable golf.”

Players at the Junior PGA raved about the conditions at Sycamore Hills – particularly on the greens – and Schneider said it’s at an all-time best at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.

“It validated the course as a championship venue, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here,” he said.

The Hotel Fitness Championship will help determine which players get their PGA Tour cards for 2014. And the PGA Tour will have its own ideas about how to set up the course.

“They’ll find pin placements we haven’t discovered yet,” Schneider said. “It’ll test a lot of the best players in the world, and it’ll be interesting on that note to see how it holds up. But this was another chapter in our championship legacy and everything went very well.”