CHATTANOOGA—Hanley Long is attempting to write her own fairytale story at the 87th annual Tennessee Women’s Amateur this week.
Thursday at Black Creek Club, she’ll have the opportunity to give it a happy ending.
In what figures to be her final amateur tournament before turning professional, the recent Middle Tennessee State University graduate will head into the final round with a one-stroke lead over Malia Stovall and Sophie Linder.
Long fired her second consecutive score of 2-under, 70 on Wednesday to rally past Linder and to the head of the pack. She stands at 4-under for the tournament.
“If I won, I feel like it would be a pretty good story line and put a pretty good cap on my amateur career,” said the Clarksville native. “I love playing in these events. All my friends play in these events and I just love being a part of Tennessee golf and putting us on the map.”
Long is already a three-time TGA champion, having won the Tennessee Women’s Four-Ball title with former MTSU teammate Jenna Burris three of the last four years. She had a stellar senior campaign for the Blue Raiders, setting the school’s single season stroke average record and being named the Conference USA Golfer of the Year.
Long advanced to the NCAA Regionals as an individual and then had to take a three-week hiatus from golf following her college season due to a partially torn rotator cuff.
“I’m kind of surprised with where (my game) is at, honestly,” she said. “I’ve really only been practicing for a week, week-and-a-half, so I’m pretty impressed with myself. I’ve just been pretty relaxed, for the most part, in my expectations.”
Long has only made one bogey in each of her first two rounds of the tournament. On Wednesday she birdied holes 6 and 7 on the front nine and then added a bogey (12) and a birdie (14) coming in.
She will be in the same grouping on Thursday that she was for the second round. Her, Linder and Stovall will be the final group off, at 12:14 p.m.
Linder, a 14-year-old from Carthage, was the day-one leader but followed her 68 up with a 1-over, 73.
Stovall, a Winchester native and a member of the University of Tennessee women’s golf team, improved on her opening-round score (71) by firing a 2-under, 70. Her and Linder both sit at 3-under, 141.
Auburn University golfer Kayley Marschke (College Grove) had a share of the lead at one point on Wednesday as she made the turn at 4-under for the round and the tournament. She suffered a double bogey on 10 and a bogey on 12 before birdieing her final hole to get to 2-under (72-70–142).
Clarksville High School golfer McKinley Cunningham had the low score of the second round with a 68 and is alone in fifth at 1-over.
Three golfers are tied for sixth at 2-over, including defending Tennessee Women’s Amateur champion Mariah Smith (Clarksville), MTSU golfer Savannah Quick (Manchester) and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga golfer Maddy McDanel (Chattanooga).