CHARLESTON, S.C. – Royalty has been in the news a lot lately, especially with the recent birth of Prince George, which had all of England and the rest of the world buzzing with excitement.
By week’s end, the U.S. Women’s Amateur could be crowning its own Prince.
Kendall Prince, 20, of Lake Oswego, Ore., grinded out another hard-fought victory in Thursday’s second round, eliminating Lori Beth Adams, of Burlington, N.C., and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, 2 up. On Wednesday, Prince, a University of Arizona junior, needed 20 holes to defeat incoming Stanford freshman and future Pac-12 Conference rival Casey Danielson, of Osceola, Wis.
“I scrambled and just grinded it out there,” said a relieved Prince. “It was the same thing yesterday. Both of my matches have gone to 18 or more.
“I feel like I did a good job of keeping my head cool and steady. But I’d rather play where you feel comfortable.”
Neither player enjoyed more than a two-hole lead in Prince’s back-and-forth second-round match with Adams. In fact, none of the last 10 holes was halved. Prince went 2 up with a conceded birdie at the par-4 14th hole, then lost the par-5 15th with a bogey. Adams, the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year, then birdied No. 16 to square the match. Prince two-putted the par-3 17th for a winning par and got up and down for par from the front of the green at the 18th to close out the match. Adams missed par putts on both holes.
“I knew if I made par on 18, I would be pretty good,” said Prince.
Two years ago as a freshman at Ohio State, Prince wasn’t feeling well just before the start of the Big Ten Championship. What she originally thought was food poisoning turned out to be a ruptured appendix. Prince, who was still named the conference’s freshman of the year, was forced to miss the entire postseason.
Shortly thereafter, she elected to transfer to Arizona.
Prince originally chose Ohio State on the advice of her former instructor, Conan Elliott, who had played football for legendary Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes. The problem was the harsh winters weren’t conducive to year-round golf.
In the meantime, Prince had also switched teachers to Phoenix-based Mike Malaska, whom she credits for adding some distance to her game. Arizona seemed to offer everything she needed.
“I found a really good fit,” said Prince. “We are spoiled [with great weather] and great courses. To be able to play in the winter … and improve your game is always nice.”
Golf isn’t Prince’s only talent. When she was in third grade, she was one of the top uni-cyclers in Oregon and once held the state record for riding the fastest backward lap around a gym. Elementary schools even feature unicycle teams.
“It’s not like I ride a unicycle anymore,” said Prince with a laugh. “My parents got rid of it.”
This is Prince’s third Women’s Amateur, but first foray into match play. Next up is a third-round match against reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Lauren Diaz-Yi, who ousted the medalist, Yumi Matsubara, 2 and 1, on Thursday morning. The two know each other from junior golf, but have never squared off in match play.
Now these two longtime rivals, one who is already a USGA champion and one who desperately wants to become one, will go head to head for a spot in Friday’s quarterfinals.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.