Notebook: Molinelli Eyeing Another USGA Title

Kelli Murphy came into match play as the No. 45 qualifier, but has surprised a few people by winning three matches to reach the quarterfinals. (Steve Gibbons/USGA) 
By David Shefter, USGA
July 19, 2012

Daly City, Calif. – Steve Molinelli has already won one USGA championship and played a minor role in another, so after Casie Cathrea posted a 6-and-4 third-round victory Thursday afternoon at the 64th U.S. Girls’ Junior, the San Francisco resident was halfway to yet another title.

Molinelli, who is serving as Cathrea’s caddie this week at Lake Merced Golf Club, has become sort of a local legend.

The longtime member at The Olympic Club caddied for Colt Knost when he claimed the 2007 U.S. Amateur at Olympic. In 1981 as a 15-year-old, he caddied in a U.S. Amateur qualifier for Nathaniel Crosby, who later won the championship at The Olympic Club with Joe B. Ross on his bag.

“I don’t think he trusted my Coke-bottle glasses,” said Molinelli, who runs his own business. “It was still a thrill to have a little teeny spoke in the wheel.”

Molinelli, 46, didn’t work the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic, but caddied for Ryo Ishikawa last month. He hooked up with the Japanese star, who missed the cut, a day before Knost officially landed a spot in the field as an alternate. “It would have been nice to do back to back with Colt,” said Molinelli, who kept his promise to Ishikawa. “It just didn’t work out that way.”

Knost, for the record, also failed to play the weekend.

A few weeks ago, Molinelli was contacted by Lake Merced member and former USGA Executive Committee member Merton Goode. Cathrea needed a caddie for the Girls’ Junior and he knew just the man. A three-time match-play club champion at The Olympic Club – he’s also won two stroke-play titles – Molinelli certainly understands the game and a caddie’s responsibility. As a side note, it was Goode who hooked Molinelli up with his wife, Suzanne, a medical sales rep who deals with anesthesiologists. Goode purchased one of Suzanne’s products and later set Steve up on a date.

“He’s one of the nicest guys on the planet,” said Molinelli. “I couldn’t say no and one thing led to another.”

He couldn’t say no to Cathrea, either. The two instantly hit it off on the golf course during practice rounds. Outside of Monday’s 82, the 16-year-old from nearby Livermore has been dialed in at Lake Merced, shooting a championship-best 66 in Tuesday’s final stroke-play qualifying round.

She cruised to a 5-and-3 first-round win over Samantha Wagner and defeated 2008 runner-up Karen Chung, 2 and 1, Thursday morning.

“He’s good. I like him,” said Cathrea. “I am confident with my irons when he’s on the bag. I’m happy.”

Added Molinelli: “She’s playing with a lot of authority right now. Somebody is going to have to shoot under par to beat her. She hasn’t really gotten hot with the putter yet so I like her chances.”

Surprise Quarterfinalist 

Kelli Murphy might be the least known of the eight quarterfinalists, and so is her hometown. Elgin, S.C., is 18 miles northeast of the state capitol of Columbia, and Murphy described it as a “one-stoplight town.”

There are no fast-food chains or major department stores.

One has to travel to nearby Lugoff for a McDonald’s or Taco Bell, she said. In fact, her high school combines Elgin and Lugoff.

But the 16-year-old junior-to-be is certainly becoming a big name at Lake Merced. She qualified in the 45th position for match play, shooting 13-over 157, but has managed to survive three matches. She beat Canada’s Jisoo Keel, a 2012 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier, 2 and 1 on Thursday morning and then ousted Shawn Rennegarbe, of Addieville, Ill., in the round of 16.

“I was just happy to make the cut,” said Murphy.

Murphy does have positive experiences from match play. She won the Carolinas Golf Association Junior Match Play last year and lost in the finals this year to Girls’ Junior participant Lucia Polo.

“I really enjoy the match-play format,” said Murphy. “There’s no score to hold you back. You can just go for everything, and if you have a bad hole, you just let it go.”

Moving On 

Ashlan Ramsey, 16, of Milledgeville, Ga., won’t be playing in a second USGA final this week after being eliminated by defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn, 8 and 6, in the third round. But Ramsey, the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links runner-up, took away some positives, despite the lopsided result.

“A lot of positives,” she said. “I still have work to do. It was a good week overall. I just [need] to get my ball-striking more consistent.”

Ramsey will be in next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at The Country Club in Cleveland.


“Whenever I walk past the scoreboard, I bet she has six or seven birdies … I’m like, what? Is she playing the same game as me? That kind of shows that she is a really good player.” – World No. 1 Lydia Ko on medalist, defending champion and World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn. 

David Shefter is a USGA senior staff writer. Email him at 

Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @USGA
Get The Rules of Golf App For Your iPhone Or Android Today
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website,, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit

AmEx image