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Ranallo continues summer to remember

Last month's update on Danielle Ranallo noted that the West Linn senior was playing the best golf of her life. But she's playing even better now.

In fact, she's been on a roll in the time since she placed second in the Oregon Junior Match Play championships in June. Since then, Ranallo won the girls state stroke play championship in mid-July, finished second in the Portland City Bob Allard Memorial tournament earlier this week and she was the top Oregon player last week at the Junior America's Cup in Tucson, Ariz.

'I'm really close to going low,' Ranallo said after shooting a pair of 77s en route to her second-place finish this week at the Allard Memorial at Rose City Golf Course.

Since she's on the verge of a career round, Ranallo would like to see it happen on Friday at the Safeway Open at Langdon Farms. But she might need a career round just to be in contention in that one-day tournament, which has drawn some of the top amateurs from around the Northwest and beyond. The winner of that event will receive an exemption to the LPGA's Safeway Classic at Columbia Edgewater in September. The second and third-place finishers will play in a Monday qualifier for the LPGA tournament.

'I'm going to have to play some pretty good golf,' Ranallo said. 'But if I hit good shots and make some putts I could be right there.'

Ranallo was certainly 'right there' at this week's Rose City event. The West Linn star felt she played 'consistent' while shooting a pair of 77s while Kendra Little, the winner, recorded rounds of 75 and 72.

Most amateurs might celebrate for a week after shooting a pair of 77s, but 'I wasn't really that happy,' Ranallo said.

She might have had the lead after the first round if she hadn't bogeyed three consecutive holes - 10, 11 and 12 (two of which are par 5s).

In Tuesday's second round, Ranallo was 1-over par on the front side and was even par on the back until she bogeyed four of the last five holes. Even with a somewhat disappointing finish, Ranallo still took home the second-place plaque, which is sitting on her family's now-cluttered fireplace mantel.

It seemed appropriate that Ranallo and Little would battle to the finish at this week's Rose City event. Three years ago at the same tournament, Little and Ranallo finished 1-2 in the intermediate girls division.

During the time since then, the two have become good friends. 'I like her a lot,' Ranallo said of Little. 'She's really nice and really funny.'

The two had plenty of time for bonding last week in Arizona at the Junior America's Cup, where they teamed with Molly Black and Erica Omlid to form Oregon's contingent, which finished 10th in a 17-team field. Ranallo was hoping for a better result for the team, but she could not have asked for much more from herself.

The West Linn golfer was Oregon's top player after shooting a first-round 76 and a second-round 80. A third round was cut in half by a threat of lightning, but for nine holes, Ranallo shot a 2-over 38.

Oddly, it was her worst round - the 80 on day 2 - that gave Ranallo the most hope. That day she hit only five greens in regulation but needed only 26 putts to complete her round. She got up and down for par in five out of six tries and she had 10 one-putts.

'If I can shoot 80 while hitting only five greens, I'd like to see what I do when I hit all of the greens,' Ranallo said.

The trip to Arizona was exciting but her crowning achievement this summer came when she won the stroke play championship.

Ranallo threatened to blow away the field when she shot a first-round 75 and followed that with a second-day 76. In fact, she held a three-stroke lead at that point over Seshia-Lei Telles of Tualatin and Avery Sills of Portland.

'But it's kind of hard to sleep on the lead,' Ranallo said. 'All of the pressure is on you.'

Ranallo's fears were nearly realized when she shot a third-round 80 while Telles, who is three years younger, shot a final-round 78. Ranallo stumbled a bit on the third day when she double bogeyed the ninth and tripled the 10th. She then played the final eight holes in even par. Even with her strong finish, she wasn't sure she had won.

'On the last hole, I rimmed out my putt and I thought I had lost,' Ranallo said. 'And I ended up winning by one stroke.'