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Leadbetter learns her lesson, shoots 67

It’s a given that Hally Leadbetter would be weaned on short irons and develop a deft putting touch at an early age. Such is the destiny of a girl whose father is among the best golf instructors in the world.

Whoops; think again.

“I was a horseback (show jumping) rider until I was 13,” Hally said following Tuesday’s second day of the 113th Women’s Western Golf Association National Amateur Championship at Dayton Country Club.

“When I was 12 I decided that I wanted to give (golf) a try. I played my first 18 holes, then I realized that I had to get a lot better if I wanted to go to college or be any good.”

Hally, 20, eventually tapped into her father David’s vast golf knowledge. Admittedly still a work in progress, she shot a lifetime best 67 on Tuesday to rally from Monday’s opening 78.

She’ll join the low 64 players from two days of stroke play who qualified for various flights of match play. Elimination matches will continue through Saturday, when 36 holes of match play will decide the championship.

Leadbetter’s University of Arkansas teammate Regina Plasencia of Guadalajara, Mexico, also shot 67 to share Tuesday’s low round.

Canadian teen Brooke Henderson was the two-day medalist with a 138 total (68-70). A junior in high school, she’s one of only two in this field who qualified for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.

Dana Finkelstein of the University of Nevada posted a 139. The field is mostly made up of collegians and top juniors.

David Leadbetter is best known for reloading Nick Faldo’s swing in the 1980s. Faldo won six majors afterward. That shot Leadbetter’s status to instructor superstar, along with Hank Haney, Butch Harmon and Dave Pelz.

Still, Hally wasn’t pushed into the game that defines her family. It was her call. “I completely got into it myself,” she said.

Only the last few years has her father been her swing coach. That began at the famed IMG Sports Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where her father is the golf instructor.

“I tried to stay away (from her father as coach) as long as possible,” she said. “As it turned out, I was really fortunate to have my coach as my dad.”

Just as fortunate was her consistent ability to hit fairways and greens in regulation on Tuesday over the par-71, 5,948 layout.

Hally put a different spin on her low score when she contacted her father. “I told him that I shot 80,” she said. “He was like, oh, no. Yeah, he was excited for me, so that was good.”

Play resumes at 7 a.m. today. All contestants are guaranteed one match play round. Championship flight rounds will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. None of the 10 area players made the match-play cut.

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