Daly City, Calif. – Multi-colored pants with black, white and tan diamonds, orange-painted fingernails, a belt with the script OSU for Oklahoma State University on the front and orange laces on her golf shoes.
It was all part of Casie Cathrea’s lucky outfit for the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the 64th U.S. Girls’ Junior on Tuesday at Lake Merced Golf Club.
There was definitely some karma going on.
The 16-year-old from nearby Livermore had the round of the championship, shooting a 6-under 66 that included a hole-in-one at the 122-yard third hole.
Consider also that Cathrea shot an 82 on Monday, so her Tuesday effort proved to be quite a turnaround.
The 4-over 146 total will also advance the Oklahoma State commit into the match-play bracket.
“Yes, I wear these [clothes] as much as I can,” said Cathrea, who also donned a black shirt. “I wore black pants on Monday, which wasn’t very good, I guess.”
Cathrea said Monday’s disappointing round wasn’t a result of trying too hard to impress the locals or the dismal weather conditions. No excuses. It was just a bad day, one that won’t mean a thing come Wednesday when match play begins.
“I think I had a different mindset,” said Cathrea. “I was just going to play for par today.”
But she started the round as if she might birdie all 18. She stuffed a sand wedge approach to 2 feet at No. 10, then converted two more birdies at 11 and 12. Cathrea turned at 2-under 34. A bogey and a par preceded her ace, the second one recorded within an hour on the hole. Marijosse Navarro, of Mexico, also aced the third.
Cathrea’s momentum continued at the par-4 fourth, statistically the toughest at Lake Merced. Playing to a stroke average of 4.86, Cathrea posted one of three birdies at the fourth, rolling in a 15-footer from the back fringe. She made a 6-footer at No. 5 and a 24-footer at the par-5 sixth before strolling home with the 66.
Cathrea left her home at 5:15 a.m. for 7:20 a.m. starting time. And when she signed for the 66, she could head home and relax, knowing she’ll have a first-round opponent waiting on the first tee Wednesday.
The 66 was three strokes shy of her career best, but was her finest round in a USGA competition.
“I’m known for going lower in my second round,” Cathrea said.
She’d just like that good momentum to continue.
Steve Molinelli, who was on the bag for Colt Knost when he won the 2007 U.S. Amateur at nearby Olympic Club, is serving as Cathrea’s caddie. Molinelli, a longtime Olympic Club member who is on the board for The First Tee of San Francisco, also caddied in last month’s U.S. Open for Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, who missed the cut.
Comeback Part II
Cathrea wasn’t the only golfer to turn things around on Tuesday. Maria Jose Fassi, 14, of Mexico went from being in tears after shooting 89 on Monday to sheer elation 24 hours later by shooting a 2-under 69. The 69 was the second-best of the championship, and got the rising ninth-grader into the match-play bracket by one stroke.
“Golf is like that,” said Fassi, who hails from a town 70 miles north of Mexico City. “One day everything goes bad, but the next day you can make it better. So today was a great challenge for me to say to this course I can beat them. I was playing to myself and trying to get my best score.”
The difference, Fassi said, was that her drives found the fairway instead of the rough and trees. And she took 10 less putts.
“It was really the difference,” said Fassi. “Last night in bed I was thinking, if you make [the match-play cut], it will be a great thing, but if you don’t, I have had a great tournament. Today I was just thinking to have a good round and have fun. I wanted to feel free like nobody else was around. No pressure.”
Two Locals Advance
Eight players from Northern California started the championship, but only two made the cut. Cathrea, at 4-over 146, easily advanced. So too did Kathleen Scavo, of Benicia, who also shot 146 (72-74).
Missing the cut were twin sisters Katherine (82-86) and Alexandra Sborov (80-87), of Pleasanton; Grace Park, of Cupertino (85-81); Jordan Keyser (83-79), of Ahwahnee; and Nancy Xu (83-83), of Sunnyvale.
Hannah O’Sullivan, of Cupertino, who qualified for this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, rallied with an even-par 72 on Tuesday after a first-round 87, but lost out in a 12-for-4 playoff for the final spots.
Pair Of Aces
Navarro, the reigning Mexican Amateur champion, recorded the first hole-in-one of the championship on the downhill, 122-yard third hole with a pitching wedge. About an hour later, Cathrea aced the same hole with a pitching wedge.
They were the 17th and 18th aces in U.S. Girls’ Junior history.
For the record, a hole-in-one was not made when the 1990 U.S. Junior Amateur was conducted at Lake Merced.
Five-time USGA champion and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster will be making a guest appearance on the Golf Channel’s broadcast of the championship match on Saturday. Golf Channel will air portions of the second 18 of the scheduled 36-hole final from 6-8 p.m. EDT. Inkster, 52, just played in her record-tying 33rd U.S. Women’s Open, a championship she won in 1999 and 2002. She also claimed three consecutive U.S. Women’s Amateur titles from 1980-82.
The Golf Channel has also asked 1986 U.S. Girls’ Junior and 1990 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Pat Hurst, who lives in Danville, Calif., to also appear as a guest. She confirmed on Wednesday that she will join the telecast on site.
Two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kay Cockerill will be the color commentator in the booth, while two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Vicki Goetze-Ackerman is scheduled to be an on-course commentator.
David Shefter is a USGA senior staff writer. Email him at email@example.com.