NORMAN, Okla. –
Hannah Wood was still asleep early last Sunday at her home in Centennial,
Colo., when the phone call came to inform her that she had been added to the
field of this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.
Her father, Don Wood,
ran upstairs and awakened his daughter with the news. She was a first alternate
out of the Colorado WAPL qualifying site and had earned a spot in the
championship if she could get to Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club by her tee time on
Three and half
hours after the phone rang, Wood and her father had packed their belongings and
were in a car driving to Oklahoma. They arrived in Norman 12 hours later with some
time to spare before her 1 p.m. starting time on Monday, albeit with no
“I was pretty
excited because this will be my new home course,” said Wood, 17, who has signed
to play college golf at the University of Oklahoma in the fall of 2014. “It
would have been good to have played the course before the first round, but I
made the best of it.”
Wood advanced from stroke-play
qualifying to match play with rounds of 74-75, but lost 5 and 4 in the first
round Wednesday to Aurora Kan of Avondale, Pa. Still, the senior at Arapahoe
High School said her experience at her first WAPL was worth every mile and
every Red Bull she and her father logged en route to the championship.
when you play this course, what you see is what you get,” Wood said. “But that
first round was a little bit scary and intimidating.”
Her father tried to
help ease her anxiety. He got up early Monday morning and walked the first nine
holes to familiarize himself, and when it was time to play, Hannah and her
father headed out for their adventure together, as they have done many times
With her father-caddie
by her side, Hannah knew she had more than a bag-toter with her. Don Wood is a
former custom club designer with the Texas company “The Wood Brothers,” which crafted
wooden drivers for PGA Tour players in the 1970s through the mid-1990s.
Wood sold the
company in 1996 and eventually became a senior designer at Cleveland Golf,
where he worked from 1998-2004. He opened and closed another business four
years ago. Now, Wood is a single parent rearing his daughter, hoping to help
her get as much experience as possible before she ships off to Norman for four
years of college golf.
Hannah Wood began
playing golf at age 4, and by age 6, her father was dropping her off at a golf
course near their home in Temecula, Calif., and picking her up around 6 p.m.
“I did that five
days a week,” said Wood, who tied for third in the Class 5-A Colorado High
School Championship in May.
Since she now lives
just south of Denver, Wood didn’t have spring weather that allowed her to play
golf and prepare for junior tournaments. She hit balls into snow at ranges and
putted indoors. Her father even created a 100-question multiple-choice test
about situations in golf and gave it to his daughter to think about during the
“It helped me keep
my golf I.Q. during the winter,” said Wood, who holds a 3.7 grade-point average
in high school.
All of her indoor
winter preparation paid off. In March, Wood won the Kathy Whitworth
Invitational,in Fort Worth, Texas. She signed her letter of intent to play at
Oklahoma in June.
And this week, she
had a memorable first trip to the WAPL with her father.
“It was worth the
experience and I’ll look forward to next year,” she said.
And after the
fast-paced few days she spent with her dad, Wood smiled.
“It was the week
after Father’s Day, so I might as well have spent it with my dad,” she said.
Match play is very fickle because sometimes a
golfer can shoot five under and lose or shoot five over and win. Casey
Danielson, of Osceola, Wis., discovered those vagaries Wednesday. After carding
rounds of 69-72 in stroke-play qualifying to finish as the No. 3 match-play
seed, the incoming freshman at Stanford University struggled not only against
Kuriko Tsukiyama, but also with the wind.
Playing under vastly different conditions
than in her two qualifying rounds, Danielson misclubbed several times against
Tsukiyama and shot the equivalent of 7-over 79, with the usual match-play
concessions. Despite the high score, Danielson managed to advance into
Thursday’s second round, 1 up, thanks to a winning par on No. 18. Tsukiyama had
a chance to force extra holes, but her 10-foot downhill par putt caught the
left edge of the hole and stayed out.
“I just wasn’t on my game,” said Danielson,
whose older sister, Lindsay, is serving as her caddie. “I think mostly because
of the wind. It just wasn’t going my way today.”
Danielson’s opponent struggled as well,
something that can happen in match play. Earlier Wednesday, co-medalist Annie
Park watched her opponent, Ciera Min, the final match-play qualifier, shoot
three under for 14 holes in a 6-and-4 upset win.
“You just have to take it hole by hole and
can’t really force anything,” said Danielson, a 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinalist.
“I hope tomorrow to hit more fairways and greens and play more consistent than
I did today.”
There is a familiar face working as a WAPL
Rules official this week at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club. Norman resident Robert
O. Smith officiated for the last pairing in Wednesday’s first round of match
play. Smith worked as an LPGA Tour Rules official for 24 years and served as
the head professional at the University of Oklahoma course for many years. He
retired from the LPGA Tour in 2008 and has spent the last few years playing
golf and focusing on shooting his age.