U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Round of 64: Five Matches to Watch
August 12, 2015 | Portland, Ore.
By David Shefter, USGA
With the field in the 115th U.S. Women’s Amateur at Portland Golf Club being whittled from 156 competitors down to 64, the race to decide which player will have her name engraved on the Robert Cox Trophy and etched into USGA history has moved on to match play.
Eight spots in the draw still have to be determined from a playoff that was scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. PDT on Wednesday.
Many notable players in the field have advanced, including defending champion Kristen Gillman, 2014 USA Curtis Cup competitor Mariah Stackhouse, world No. 2 Bethany Wu, 2015 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up and 2015 Women’s Amateur co-medalist Angel Yin, 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinalist Hannah O’Sullivan and two-time Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup competitor Bronte Law.
Of the Round-of-64 matches already determined for Wednesday, here are five intriguing matchups. The seeding is in parentheses.
Bailey Tardy, Peachtree Corners, Ga. (29) vs. Dylan Kim, Plano, Texas (36)
Neither golfer is a stranger to USGA competition. Tardy was the stroke-play medalist in the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior and advanced to the Round of 32 in last year’s Girls’ Junior, falling to medalist Angel Yin. Last month, Tardy demonstrated her match-play prowess by winning the prestigious North & South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s COurse No. 2, where she played in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open (missed cut). Tardy, who turned 19 on Saturday, will be a freshman this fall at the University of Georgia.
Kim, 18, enrolled at Baylor University a semester early and helped the Bears reach the championship match of the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Championship at the Concession Club in Bradenton, Fla. Last year, Kim qualified for match play in both the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur, falling in the Round of 64 and Round of 16, respectively. She also qualified for the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club, but missed the 36-hole cut.
Muni He, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (10) vs. Alice Jo, Clermont, Fla. (55)
Folks in the People’s Republic of China, which is 15 hours ahead of Portland, might be a bit bleary-eyed following this match between two 16-year-old phenoms. He was born in China, but her family moved first to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, before settling in the San Diego suburbs. Earlier this summer, He qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and made the 36-hole cut after shooting a first-round 68, eventually finishing in a tie for 53rd. A few weeks later, she reached the Round of 32 inthe U.S. Girls’ Junior at Tulsa (Okla.) Country Club.
Although she was born in Japan, Jo spent the majority of her childhood in mainland China before recently moving to Florida. Last year, she became the first player from China to win a USGA championship when she defeated Eun Jeong Seong in the 36-hole championship match of the final U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, contested at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash. Jo missed the match-play cut in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur and last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior, but birdied the first playoff hole on Tuesday to earn a spot in the draw at Portland Golf Club.
Eun Jeong Seong, Republic of Korea (23) vs. Celine Boutier, France (42)
This is a matchup of two national champions, with Seong, 15, winning last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior and Boutier, 21, claiming the Ladies British Open Amateur Championship. The long-hitting Seong not only advanced to the final of last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, but also reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y., before falling to Andrea Lee, 2 and 1. She fell to Kristen Gillman in the Round of 32 of the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior before putting together a dominant performance last month at Tulsa (Okla.) Country Club.
Boutier, a Duke University All-America selection, is No. 11 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™. Her breakthrough victory came at Portstewart Golf Club in Northern Ireland, where she knocked off 18-year-old Swede Linnea Strom, 4 and 3, in the championship match of the Ladies British Amateur. That secured Boutier a spot in the U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Boutier has lost to the Women’s Amateur champion in each of her two previous appearances: 1 down to Lydia Ko in 2012 in the Round of 16, and Kristen Gillman last year in 20 holes in the Round of 64.
Mika Liu, Beverly Hills, Calif. (27) vs. Lauren Kim, Los Altos, Calif. (38)
The Stanford University coaches might have an interest in this 1:20 p.m. matchup between a future Cardinal and a present one. Liu, who teamed with Rinko Mitsunaga to win the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in May at Bandon Dunes, about five hours south of Portland Golf Club, has announced her intentions to attend Stanford in 2017 after finishing up at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Liu, 16, comes from a family of Ivy Leaguers: her sister, Marika, played at Yale, while two of her brothers were members of the Harvard golf team.
Kim, 20, led the Cardinal to the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship in May, and is no stranger to facing a teammate in the Women’s Amateur. Last year, she advanced to the Round of 16, defeating Stanford’s Mariah Stackhouse in the Round of 32. She eventually fell to fellow Northern California native Grace Na, 2 down. This is Kim’s seventh USGA championship, having competed in three U.S. Girls’ Juniors and three U.S. Women’s Amateurs.
Cindy Ha, Demarest, N.J. (11) vs. Aneka Seumanutafa, Frederick, Md. (54)
Ha will be looking to celebrate her 19th birthday by knocking off the youngest remaining competitor. Ha certainly has plenty of match-play experience, having advanced to the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and U.S. Girls’ Junior. Born in Korea, she has since become an American citizen. Ha will be a sophomore this fall at Vanderbilt University, where she is a teammate of 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur co-medalist Jennifer Hahn.
Seumanutafa, 14, recently moved to Maryland after spending most of her childhood in Hawaii. She is coming off a strong performance in last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior, where she defeated three-time U.S. Women’s Open qualifier and fellow Hawaiian Mariel Galdiano in the Round of 64. The ninth-grader at St. John’s Catholic Prep eventually fell to Mika Liu, 2 and 1, in the Round of 16. She also has competed in the USGA Women’s State Team for Hawaii and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.