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Latanna Stone, age 10, still makes history in short stay at Women's Am

By Brendan Mohler

Latanna Stone’s historic run at the USGA Women’s Amateur is over, but you can expect to hear her name plenty in the future. The 10-year-old from Valrico, Fla., is the youngest to ever compete in the Women’s Amateur, and already has won over 100 tournaments in her short career. Latanna shot 82-78 in the 36-hole qualifying rounds at The Country Club near Cleveland for a total of 16-over 160. Though she finished well above the cut line (+5), the youngster had other goals.

“Our goal for today was a low score and to have fun,” said Latanna’s mother, Yuen. “Yesterday we were all a little nervous, especially Latanna. But today she was much more relaxed.”

Latanna had her father, Mike, on the bag for her first-ever tournament on bent grass greens, which the pair struggled to read throughout the qualifying rounds. “I’ve never played on anything but Bermuda,” said Latanna. “I wasn’t used to the way they were rolling.”

Regardless, Latanna made a few testy par putts down the stretch, including a 10-footer on the par-4 13th and a 5-footer on the par-4 15th. “What most people don’t realize about her is that she has an exceptional short game. But she also can keep up with the older girls off the tee,” said Mike Stone, who also touched on his daughter’s unique chipping style. “She uses a 60-degree wedge from everywhere. She can bump it, flop it, get it to roll, or make it stop.”

Latanna’s game is surprisingly complete for someone so young, and she plays with a maturity that most good players don’t acquire until much later in their careers. She works the ball both ways, but falls back on a cut because she knows the left-to-right shot is easier to control. “The draw gets me in trouble sometimes,” she admitted. Latanna has worked considerably with Annika Sorenstam’s sister Charlotta, but now sees Orlando-based instructor Brian Mogg on a monthly basis.

The soon-to-be sixth grader will continue her home-schooling later this month and won’t play another big event until either the Dixie Amateur or the Harder Hall Invitational this winter. For now, it’s time to rest. “I can’t wait to get home and see my friends. I really miss them,” said an exhausted Latanna after the round. “I miss my dogs too, they’re the cutest things ever.”

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