U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Liu, Mitsunaga Win Inaugural U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Title
May 13, 2015 | Bandon, Ore.
By Christina Lance, USGA
Mika Liu, 16, of Beverly Hills, Calif., and Rinko Mitsunaga, 18, of Roswell, Ga., captured the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship with a 4-and-3 win over Robynn Ree, 18, of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Hannah O’Sullivan, 17, of Chandler, Ariz., in Wednesday’s 18-hole championship final on the par-72 Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
“It really has not hit me,” said Mitsunaga of their history-making feat, which was capped by her 88-yard hole-out from the fairway on the 12th hole that gave the pair an eagle and a 4-up lead with six holes to play. “Right now we’re just happy to be here. We’re so thankful for the golf course and all the volunteers for having us this week. It’s been a long, tough week.”
Ree struck first in the championship match, punctuating a long birdie putt on the par-4 first with a fist pump and a quick 1-up lead.
“(Ree’s birdie) actually gave me a really fast reminder that I had to be focused on every shot and work hard to win it,” said Liu, who is No. 42 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™. “I didn't know if I was going to win it or not, but I was going to give it my best try, and I was going to just go for it.”
And go for it, she did. A 5-foot birdie from Liu at the par-4 second squared the match. After the sides halved the next two holes with birdies, Liu and Mitsunaga won hole Nos. 6-8 with three more birdies, all from Liu, to build a 3-up lead.
“My putting was so hot today,” said Liu, who attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., with Mitsunaga. “I feel like I pretty much made everything, so I was very happy with that.”
While Liu provided much of her side’s advantage, Mitsunaga had some fireworks of her own. Her eagle at the par-5 12th gave them an insurmountable 4-up advantage.
“I just really wanted to knock it close since I knew someone was going to make a birdie,” said Mitsunaga, who is headed to the University of Georgia this fall. “It just happened to sink in.”
For Ree and O’Sullivan, it was a bittersweet end to an otherwise remarkable week. On Monday, the duo recorded the first 10-and-8 victory in an 18-hole USGA match since 1955. But despite playing 4-under-par golf in a match in which neither side registered a bogey, they were not able to make a dent in their opponents’ lead.
“We were happy with how we were playing,” said Ree, an incoming freshman at the University of Southern California. “We just wish a couple of putts dropped. We learned some new things, and I think in the future for our next tournaments, I think we'll do a lot better using our new skills.”
“Everything happens for a reason,” added O’Sullivan, who reached the semifinals of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. “We've just got to keep our heads up and take the positives from it – learn from it, bring it into our next events and use it as motivation to do better next time we compete.”
Both sides reached the final match by earning 3-and-2 victories in Wednesday morning’s semifinal round. Liu and Mitsunaga eliminated Southern Californians Alyaa Abdulghany and Ellen Takada, while Ree and O’Sullivan defeated Madelein Herr and Brynn Walker, both of suburban Philadelphia.
The inaugural 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship consisted of 36 holes of stroke play followed by five rounds of match play. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
The 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship will be conducted May 21-25 at Streamsong Resort in Streamsong, Fla.
Christina Lance is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.