Cleveland – Medalist Hyo-Joo Kim, 17, of Korea, and Lydia Ko, 15, of New Zealand, the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur, advanced to the third round of match play on Thursday in the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur on the 6,512-yard, par-72 course at The Country Club.
Kim defeated Isabelle Lendl, 21, of Goshen, Conn., 2 and 1, while Ko defeated Amy Anderson, 20, of Oxbow, N.D., a 2012 USA Curtis Cup player and the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, 3 and 2.
Su-Hyun Oh, 16, of Australia, was 9-under-par through the 14 holes of her match with Maia Schechter, 19, of Takoma Park, Md., and won, 5 and 4.
Match-play rounds continue throughout the week with a 36-hole final scheduled for Sunday.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association, of which 10 are strictly for amateurs.
Oh’s pinpoint iron shots gave her a 3-up lead over Schechter through eight holes. The fireworks began at the 170-yard, par-3 ninth when Oh nearly holed a 5-iron and was conceded the 2-inch birdie putt. With the usual match-play concessions, Oh was six under par at the turn and 4 up.
A birdie at the 11th gave Oh a 5-up lead. At the par-5 12th, she stood at the top of a hill, facing a 134-yard shot to the green with an 8-iron in her hand. The flagstick hugged the back of the green.
“I was just trying to get left of the hole and I thought I mis-hit it,” Oh said. “Then, people were clapping when I walked up to the green. It was in the hole for an eagle. It was three-quarters luck. It made me happy, though.”
Oh was dormie-6. Schechter was four under par on the front nine and 4 holes down, yet she never gave up. She birdied the 13th to get back to 5 holes down. After the pair parred the 14th, however, Schechter had run out of holes.
“My iron play was the best of my life and this is my best golf score,” Oh said. “It was match play and she was hitting the ball really good, so I just had to hit it close to win. My goal was top 16. Now, I’ll try to get as far as I can.”
Ko had a battle with Anderson, the former U.S. Girls’ Junior titlist. With match-play concessions, Anderson was five under par for nine holes and only 1 up on Ko. Birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 gave Ko a 1-up lead. At the 15th, Ko won the hole with a par and was 2 up. Ko then hit a 5-wood into the left-hand bunker on the 447-yard, par-5 16th and Anderson followed her in with a 5-iron. On their bunker shots, Ko was slightly closer to the hole and faced an 18-footer for birdie
Anderson missed from 21 feet and settled for par. Ko’s birdie putt rolled to the right, started uphill, then broke sharply left and into the hole. She had won the match.
In the afternoon’s third round, Ko faces Celine Boutier, 18, of France. Boutier survived an 18-hole struggle with Karen Chung, 17, of Livingston, N.J., runner-up in the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Boutier was up for most of the match and at the 18th had a 1-hole advantage. After a fine drive to the middle of fairway, Chung was in a do-or-die situation. She backed away from her second shot several times, tossing grass into the air to judge the breeze. Her iron shot flew right at the flagstick, but hit a foot short of the green and rebounded into a bunker.
Playing quickly, Boutier hit her approach shot to the middle of the green. When Chung failed to hole her bunker shot, Boutier needed only to get down in two putts, which she did, winning, 1 up.
“I just tried to hit the middle of the green, as usual,” said Boutier. “It was a tough match. She’s a very good player.”
Rhonda Glenn is a manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.