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U.S. OPEN OF SURFING

Courtney Conlogue upsets Malia Manuel in women's final

The 16-year-old from Santa Ana defeats the defending champion with a combined score of 17.17 in two waves.

July 26, 2009|Mario Aguirre

It had the makeup of a storybook ending, perhaps even fairy tale-like, what with Courtney Conlogue being swept off her feet Saturday.

Not in the romantic metaphorical sense, of course.

Conlogue, 16, had just won the women's championship in the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, and two guys picked her off the ocean water and carried her to the victory stage.

It was her friend's brother and . . . some random spectator, she guesses.

It didn't matter. Awaiting her was a trophy, an oversized check and plenty of praise for the Santa Ana resident, who overthrew last year's champion, Malia Manuel of Hawaii.

"This is definitely No. 1 for me," Conlogue said. "To have it in my backyard and all my fans cheering for me is really cool."

Conlogue lifted the American flag as she cut across the crowd on someone else's shoulders, a product of her combined score of 17.17, of a possible 20, in two waves.

When Manuel lifted her score from 1.00 to 7.17, Conlogue countered with an 8.17.

"It's go big or go home," Conlogue said with a chuckle. "When you're in your zone, you're in your zone. You're in that whole competition mode."

Conlogue delivered the most punishing blow, a score of 9.00 in one of her latter waves, to secure her title against Manuel.

"I was kind of nervous, personally, before that heat [because] she was the defending champion," Conlogue said. "And all I could do is do what I know, and that's what I do best -- [it's] go for it and have fun doing it."

About the only uncertainty, it seems, was whether Conlogue would receive her accolades before fans without any interruption.

"[My friend's brother] was actually the one holding me, and he's a bit smaller than me," she said with a laugh. "So him carrying me was a little bit nerve-racking; I was making sure I wouldn't fall.

"That was my first time being carried, and hopefully there'll be more."

Manuel won the junior women's championship earlier, now considered a consolation prize of sorts. Repeating as champion of the women's final would almost certainly have Manuel tabbed the best surfer in the U.S.

But that title, for now at least, is up for debate.

Conlogue scored an Open-high 19.63 in the quarterfinals and sent Manuel home without the tournament's most coveted award.

"I'm bummed that didn't happen," Manuel said. "That would have been really great to, you know, get the double going. But I'm happy for Courtney. She's a great athlete and she's a deserving heat winner."

Earlier in the day, Kelly Slater secured a spot as one of eight surfers who will compete today in the quarterfinals for the record $100,000 purse.

Slater opened with a perfect 10 score in the first wave, coupled with a 7.40 mark in the latter waves, to stay in contention. It was the second perfect 10 in this year's tournament.

Slater, a favorite in the tournament, will vie for the prize against Mick Fanning, Michel Bourez, Adriano de Souza, C.J. Hobgood, Patrick Gudauskas and Nathan Curran.

Brett Simpson, who recorded scores of 8.50 and 5.00 on Saturday, is also expected to be a sturdy challenger.

--

mario.aguirre@latimes.com

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