CHAMPIONS
USGA Champion Spotlight: Match-Play Prowess, a Memorable Ace March 28, 2016 By Scott Lipsky, USGA

Prior to his PGA Tour career, Ryan Moore won three USGA titles, including the 2004 U.S. Amateur. (USGA/John Mummert)

USGA Amateur Champions Show off Match-Play Chops in Austin

The World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play wrapped up on Sunday, and while Jason Day took home the title, several of the world’s best players channeled the success they had competing in USGA amateur championships to post solid performances at Austin (Texas) Country Club.

The 64-player field included eight winners of USGA amateur championships, which are contested at match play following two rounds of stroke play. Of those eight USGA amateur champions, five – Jordan Spieth (2009 and 2011 U.S. Junior Amateur); Byeong-Hun An (2009 U.S. Amateur); Matt Kuchar (1997 U.S. Amateur); Ryan Moore (2002 and 2004 U.S. Amateur Public Links, 2004 U.S. Amateur); and Brandt Snedeker (2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links) – advanced through the Group Stage to the Round of 16.

Of the five, Moore was the lone player to make it through to the quarterfinals, where he was eliminated by Rafa Cabrera Bello, 2 and 1. Rory McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, advanced the farthest of the 12 USGA champions in the field, ultimately bowing out to Day in the semifinals, 1 up.

An Ace for Minjee

Minjee Lee finished tied for 20th in last weekend’s Kia Classic, but she undoubtedly hit the most memorable shot of the event. Lee, who defeated fellow LPGA Tour player Alison Lee in the final to capture the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior title, made the first hole-in-one of her professional career on Saturday, and it was hardly one that would be considered routine. Lee aced the 16th hole at Aviara Golf Club, a par 4 playing 234 yards, with a 5-wood. It was just the second hole-in-one on a par 4 in LPGA Tour history.

 


Trio of USGA Champs Battle Down the Stretch at the Kia Classic

The Kia Classic, contested at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif., was the site of Lydia Ko’s 11th LPGA Tour win on Sunday, with her third straight 5-under 67 propelling the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion to her first victory in 2016. Ko birdied the last three holes on Sunday to separate herself from the pack and seal a four-stroke win over runner-up and three-time USGA champion Inbee Park, who fired a 67 of her own on Sunday. Jenny Shin, the 2006 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, was in contention late, until a double-bogey on the par-5 17th hole on Sunday dropped her into a tie for fourth.

 

Ko and Park are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the Rolex Rankings, the official women’s world golf ranking, as of Monday. Lexi Thompson, the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, is ranked No. 3.

Scott Lipsky is the manager of websites and digital platforms for the USGA. Email him at slipsky@usga.org.