Station, N.J. – Cindy Ha, 15, of
Demarest, N.J., and Lakareber Abe, 16, of Angleton, Texas, fired rounds of
4-under-par 68 to take the early lead in stroke-play qualifying at the 2012
U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at the 6,221-yard, par-72 Neshanic Valley
Brittany Altomare, 21, of Shrewsbury, Mass.,
opened 36-hole qualifying with a 3-under-par 69.
Ha and Abe used sharp short-iron play to lead the morning wave of qualifiers.
Ha also used local knowledge. She lives in Demarest, about 60 miles from the
championship site, and has played the course “four or five times.”
on the second nine, Ha birdied the 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th holes against two
bogeys. After making the turn, her birdies came at the first, second, fourth
and sixth holes. Only one of Ha’s birdie putts was longer than 15 feet, a curling
30-footer from the fringe on the 13th hole. Five of her approach shots nestled
to within 8 feet
of the hole and on the fourth and 14th holes she hit wedge shots to within a
keyed up on her opening holes, Ha rallied. “Once I got onto my back nine I got
a lot steadier,” said Ha. “I knew there are a lot of good players, so I tried
to go low.”
going low, Ha shot her lowest score in a USGA championship. While this is her
first U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, she twice played in the U.S. Girls’
Junior. In the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur, she reached the match-play round of
starting on the second nine, Abe recorded birdies at the 12th, 16th and 18th
holes. On the 503-yard, par-5 fourth hole, she hit the green with a 3-wood
second shot and got down in two putts from 60 feet for another birdie.
She capped her round with a final birdie at the par-5 ninth hole.
just tried to stay patient,” said Abe. “Sometimes I get ahead of myself but I
became a U.S. citizen last
year when her parents, natives of South Korea,
citizenship. She’s an incoming junior at Northern Valley
School in Demarest.
recently moved to Fort Worth, Texas to attend
the Jim McLean Golf
Academy and pursues
studies on-line. She lives in a house
with other Academy students and several of their mothers, who rotate
is an incoming senior at the University
of Virginia. In 2011, she
was a quarterfinalist in the Women’s Amateur Public Links and has qualified for
the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. In 2009 she played a Women’s Open practice round
with Lorena Ochoa and watched the professional spend a
lot of time practicing her short game during the round.
used to focus a lot on targets,” said Altomare. “Now I feel like working around
the greens in practice is the best thing to do.”
Monday, it paid off. One of Altomare’s six birdies came from a holed chip shot
on the third hole.
the conclusion of stroke-play qualifying on Tuesday, the low 64 scorers advance
to match play. Matches begin on Wednesday and the championship concludes with a
36-hole final on Saturday.
Rhonda Glenn is a manager
of communications for the USGA. Email her at email@example.com.