Can the weather get any better? For a second consecutive day, Rhode Island has blessed with sunny skies, a cool breeze and comfortable temperatures minus the humidty we had to start the week. It's ideal golf conditions for the quarterfinals of the 2011 U.S. Women's Amateur.
And all four matches should be outstanding. The 12:45 p.m. match features University of Alabama All-American Brooke Pancake -- the player with the best last name -- against incoming UCLA freshman Erynne Lee, who was a semifinalist in this event three years ago and a quarterfinalist last year. At this year's U.S. Women's Open, she led the field in driving distance over the first two rounds.
Next up at 12:55 p.m., defending champion Danielle Kang of Westlake Village, Calif., meets Demi Frances Runas, a 19-year-old from Torrance, Calif., who plays at the University of California-Davis. Runas attended the same high school as 2006 U.S. Girls' Junior champion Jenny Shin. Good karma could also be with Kang. The last time the Women's Amateur came to Rhode Island C.C. in 1987, the defending champion, Kay Cockerill, took home the title, just months before she turned pro. Kang also is turning pro after this event.
By the way, our prayers go out to Cockerill, whose father passed away yesterday in California. Cockerill flew home this morning. Steve Burkowski will take over Cockerill's duties on the broadcast.
The 1:05 p.m. match features reigning NCAA Division I champion Austin Ernst of Seneca, S.C., and LSU against Stephanie Kono of Honolulu, a member of the victorious 2010 USA Curtis Cup Team and a UCLA All-American. Interesting enough, it was Kono's Bruins who won the 2011 NCAA team title in College Station, Texas, at the same time Ernst took the individual title, the first for the Tiger women's golf program.
The final quarterfinal will pit 16-year-old Casey Danielson of Osceola, Wis., the true surprise of the championship, against 17-year-old Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand. This has kind of a Hoosiers theme to it. Danielson comes from a town of 2,500 in northwestern Wisconsin, while Jutanugarn is one of the best juniors in the world, having already claimed low-amateur honors at last month's U.S. Women's Open at The Broadmoor. Her 15-year-old sister, Ariya, won last month's U.S. Girls' Junior at Olympia Fiels (Ill.) Country Club and last week claimed the PGA Junior Championship at Sycamore Hills G.C. in Fort Wayne, Ind., by 10 strokes. Moriya withdrew from the Girls' Junior due to an injury and instead caddied for her sister. Ariya is now serving as Moriya's caddie after being eliminated in the second round on Thursday by Lindy Duncan.
You can follow the matches on USGA.org and Golf Channel will televise the action live at 3 p.m.
Enjoy the golf. -- David Shefter