Albane Valenzuela hopes third time’s a charm at Jr. Orange Bowl golf tournament

Albane Valenzuela, seen rolling a putt on Tuesday, has shot a consistent 70-70-71 through three rounds.
Albane Valenzuela, seen rolling a putt on Tuesday, has shot a consistent 70-70-71 through three rounds. For the Miami Herald

Albane Valenzuela was born in New York City, lives in Switzerland and comes to Florida, among other places, to play golf.

Included in all that travel, Valenzuela has made three trips to the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Championship, and she’s hoping the third one — this year’s event — will give her the result that has so far eluded her.

“I was third last year, and ninth the first time,” said Valenzuela, 18. “It has definitely been my dream to win this tournament.”

Right now, she’s in pretty good position — not commanding, but pretty good — with a one-stroke lead heading into Wednesday’s final round at Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables.

Valenzuela has shot an extremely consistent 70-70-71 for a minus-2 total of 211, with second-day leader Emilia Migliaccio of Cary, North Carolina, lurking in second with rounds of 68-70-74 and a 212 total.

Valenzuela took up golf when she was 3 years old and understandably said, “No, don’t really remember anything about it back then.”

However, she does know that she has enjoyed the game as far back as she can remember.

“I pretty much like everything about golf,” she said. “It’s really mental, and it tests you tremendously.”

Valenzuela also is particularly happy and proud that golf has provided her with a scholarship to Stanford next year.

“Went there for a visit and fell in love with the school,” she said.

How is she approaching the Junior OB’s final round?

“Actually, I’m not thinking about a win right now — it’s too early,” she said with a smile. “We’ll have to see about that with what happens Wednesday.”

Although winning this event is a huge goal for Valenzuela, she said she isn’t nervous.

“I’ll sleep just fine,” she said. “I’m not the nervous type. I’ll just play my game in the final round and have fun.”

In the boys’ division, Kristoffer Reitan of Norway also has a one-shot lead with scores of 70-67-72 for a minus-4 total of 209, and Sachin Kumar, originally of Trinidad and Tobago and now living in Port St. Lucie, was in second at 72-68-70 for a 210 total. Defending champion Joaquin Niemann of Chile was another two shots back at 212 after a 70 on Tuesday.

Reitan spent much of his round grimacing as he battled his swing, particularly on the back nine.

“I just started hitting the ball poorly and got myself in trouble,” he admitted. That included hitting into the water on the par-3 12th and taking a double-bogey.

“I was mad at myself for making it so difficult,” he said.

Reitan took a philosophical approach to the upcoming final round.

“Looking at it from a learning perspective,” he said, “I’ll learn more from going in with a one-shot lead than a three-shot lead. It’s going to be interesting and fun.”