Olympia Fields, Ill. – Ariya Jutanugarn and Dottie Ardina will meet in Saturday’s scheduled 36-hole championship final at the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being conducted on the 6,403-yard, par-72 South Course at Olympia Fields Country Club.
Both players will be competing in their first USGA championship final.
Stroke-play medalist Jutanugarn, 15, of Thailand, recorded the largest victory margin of the championship in dispatching 14-year-old Amy Lee, 8 and 6. After halving the first two holes with pars, Jutanugarn’s birdie on the par-3 third hole provided the spark she needed to run away with the match. She finished the equivalent of five under par, with the usual match-play concessions.
“The pins had not changed (from the morning’s round) and I knew where the pins were,” said Jutanugarn, who competed in the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open and won the 2011 Rolex Girls Junior Championship. “That’s why I could make more birdies.”
Jutanugarn first emerged onto the junior golf scene in 2009, when she upset defending Girls’ Junior champion Alexis Thompson in the third round of the championship that was conducted at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Since then, Jutanugarn had not advanced past the third round of any USGA match-play championship, a fact that was not lost on the Bangkok native.
“I just wanted to (be) better than (2009),” she said. “Four players is good. But now, only last two players, I’m so happy.
“I don’t know what’s going (to happen) tomorrow, but I’m so proud of it.”
“She was playing really well,” said Lee, of Brea, Calif., who was competing in her first USGA championship. “I was chasing a tiger. It was a tough round.”
Ardina, 17, of the Philippines, opened her match with 15-year-old Yu Liu with a bang, converting a 40-foot birdie putt to grab an early 1-up lead. Liu’s birdie at the par-5 fourth hole evened the match, and it remained all square for 10 of the ensuing 12 holes.
However, consecutive Liu bogeys on the par-4 16th and 17th handed Ardina the 2-up victory.
Ardina, who battled severely blistered feet all day, knows what part of her game she needs to improve heading into the championship final.
“I have to make my birdie putts, because I kind of missed a lot of birdie putts today,” said Ardina, who has represented her home country twice at the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. “But they call it give and take, and I’ll take that.
“As soon as you win the hole, even though you missed the putts, you win the hole.”
Liu came into the match confident that she could make it to the championship final. Despite admitting to putting troubles that sent her home, she can go back to her native Beijing proud of her performance in her first USGA championship.
“I’m definitely proud of my performance this week,” she said. “I couldn’t have imagined it.”
In the morning’s quarterfinal round, Jutanugarn defeated fellow 15-year-old Gabriella Then, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 1 up. Ardina advanced by a quick 5-and-4 margin over Summar Roachell, 16, of Conway, Ark. Liu eliminated 2008 runner-up Karen Chung, while Lee defeated Texan Talia Campbell.
The morning’s quarterfinal matches were interrupted by a two-hour, 13-minute rain delay that dropped nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain over the heat-baked South Course.
The 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior will conclude with the 36-hole championship final on Saturday.
The U.S. Girls’ Junior is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Olympia Fields, Ill. – Results from Friday’s quarterfinal round of match play at the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being conducted on the 6,403-yard, par-72 South Course at Olympia Fields Country Club:
Upper BracketAriya Jutanugarn, Thailand (140) def. Gabriella Then, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (147), 1 up
Amy Lee, Brea, Calif. (149) def. Talia Campbell, Dallas, Texas (153), 1 up
Lower BracketYu Liu, People's Republic of China (147) def. Karen Chung, Livingston, N.J. (148), 6 and 5
Dottie Ardina, Philippines (151) def. Summar Roachell, Conway, Ark. (148), 5 and 4
Olympia Fields, Ill. – Results from Friday’s semifinal round of match play at the 2011 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being conducted on the 6,403-yard, par-72 South Course at Olympia Fields Country Club:
Ariya Jutanugarn, Thailand (140) def. Amy Lee, Brea, Calif. (149), 8 and 6Lower BracketDottie Ardina, Philippines (151) def. Yu Liu, People's Republic of China (147), 2 and 1
Olympia Fields, Ill. -- Pairing and starting time for Saturday's 36-hole final of the 2011 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship being conducted on the 6,403-yard, par-72 South Course at Olympia Fields Country Club. (All times CDT)
8 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. -- Ariya Jutanugarn, Thailand (140) vs. Dottie Ardina, Philippines (151)