Valenzuela, Reitan ease to Junior Orange Bowl victories

A fantasy and a goal three years in the making turned into reality for Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela on Wednesday.

Two years ago, Valenzuela finished ninth in the Junior Orange Bowl International Golf Classic. Nice job.

Last year, she finished third. Really nice job.

That brings us to Wednesday and her final chance to win one of the top international junior tournaments. She did just that. Great job.

“This is a victory I really wanted,” Valenzuela said. “I’ve always looked at this as the best junior tournament in the world.”

Valenzuela, the height of steadiness and focus throughout the tournament, shot 70-70-71-70 for a minus-3 total of 281 to capture the girls’ title at the Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables.

“On the first tee, you always have that adrenaline going,” Valenzuela said. “Then you get out there and just play the game. I made the most of it – I knew I could not come back and play in this event again next year.”

Valenzuela, 18, won by three shots over Agathe Laisne of France, who shot a 4-under 67 Wednesday.

Part of Valenzuela’s strategy, as it usually is, includes not paying too much attention to scores – not even her own.

“I knew I was playing well,” she said, “but when I finished I asked my mom several times if I had won. Then I asked her again, ‘Are you sure? Are you really sure?’ ”

Mom finally convinced her daughter that a three-year odyssey had ended successfully.

Next stop in the fall for Valenzuela is moving to California to attend Stanford and play golf there. Yes, the same school that has produced Tiger Woods, Tom Watson and Michelle Wie.

“I’ve always wanted to go there, so I’m very happy I’ll also get to play golf there,” Valenzuela said.

The boys’ title went to Kristoffer Reitan of Norway, who shot 70-67-72-70 for a 5-under total of 279, winning by five shots over Adrien Dumont de Chassart of Belgium and defending champion Joaquin Niemann of Chile. For the four rounds, Chassart shot 71-71-73-69—284 and Niemann shot 69-73-70-72—284 as they tied for second.

Despite the substantial five-shot victory, the soft-spoken Reitan, 17, said, “I didn’t feel like I had it under control until putting the ball on the 17th green.

“I was particularly pleased to avoid doing anything stupid, especially toward the end. To feel all these emotions on a golf course was a really good experience and hopefully will be useful in the future.

“This means a lot to me,” Reitan concluded. “Winning this is a big stepping stone in my career.”