U.S. GIRLS' JUNIOR
Daily Digest: Another State Of Bliss For Navarossa? July 20, 2016 | Paramus, N.J. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Brianna Navarossa was victorious in the Round of 64 on Wednesday in 22 holes, the longest match of her career. (USGA/Jeff Haynes)

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After his daughter partnered with Angelina Kim to go all the way to the championship match of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball in May, Anthony Navarossa got a strange request from Brianna, 13.

“Papa, can we move to Florida?” Navarossa relayed with a chuckle. They had just spent an exciting week at Streamsong Resort in the central part of the Sunshine State, and his young teenager was smitten with the area.

“Do you like the heat?” Navarossa said he asked her, laughing. They did not relocate from San Diego.

The way things are going this week, Brianna may soon be inquiring about a move to the Garden State. She qualified at No. 37 in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at The Ridgewood Country Club, then outlasted No. 28 seed Lei Ye, of the People’s Republic of China, in 22 holes on Wednesday, advancing to the Round of 32 with a birdie on the 380-yard, par-4 fourth hole.

“The whole match was very close,” said Brianna, who knocked in a 25-foot birdie putt to eliminate Ye, who had extended the match by winning No. 18. Neither player held more than a 2-up advantage.

Navarossa cited the 385-yard sixth hole as a critical point. She hit a tree with her drive, and after playing from the rough, she needed to pitch onto the green with her third shot. Ye was on in two with a birdie try.

“I chipped from about 20 yards to 4 feet away to save my par, and she ended up three-putting her downhill putt,” said Navarossa. “That was a big one for me.”

Navarossa, who teamed with Kim to defeat four opponents en route to the final at Streamsong, including the medalist team of Pauline Del Rosario and Princess Mary Superal in the semifinals, appreciates the unpredictability of match play.

“Anything can happen; anything is possible,” said the diminutive freshman-to-be at Mater Dei High School in San Diego. “You might think you don’t have a chance, but you never know. You win a hole and you think to yourself, something just changed right here, I could make it happen again.”

Navarossa made birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, then added a winning par on No. 12 to forge her own 2-up lead, but a balky driver made it a challenge to retain her advantage.

“I just started slicing my drives way too much,” said Navarossa, who bogeyed No. 14 after being bunkered, then went from tree to tree on No. 18 for a double bogey and extra holes.

“On the first three [playoff] holes, I was still slicing my drives but I still managed to halve it,” said Navarossa. “It was very frustrating, but every time I went into the trees, I was very lucky, because I always found a way out. On the fourth hole I finally said, let me hit my 3-wood and I hit it dead straight. I should have done that the first time.”

Her resulting birdie ended the longest match of Navarossa’s career, with 20 holes her previous longest. Now she will attempt to match or exceed her longest USGA match-play run, starting at 7:54 a.m. on Thursday when she faces Gina Kim, of Chapel Hill, N.C., in the Round of 32.

“The Four-Ball was an unforgettable experience,” said Navarossa. “I can’t believe how many people knew about it. Even now, people come up and talk to me about it.”

Philippines Showdown

Of the 156 players in the Girls’ Junior field, five are from the Philippines, and four of them made it into the 64-player bracket for match play. The luck of the draw set up an in-country showdown in the Round of 64 between two of them: No. 42 Lois Kaye Go and No. 23 Pauline Del Rosario.

Del Rosario, 17, had a strong showing in May in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, reaching the semifinals with partner and 2014 Girls’ Junior champion Princess Mary Superal, and she also reached the second round of match play in this championship in 2013. She and Go played a competitive match that went 20 holes, with neither player holding more than a one-hole advantage until Go prevailed with a par on the 154-yard, par-3 second for the victory.

“We both played really well – it came down to who made the least mistakes,” said Go, 17, of Cebu City, who is No. 909 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. “I knew she was a tough opponent. I don’t play with her a lot but she’s often in the same tournament field in Manila, where most of our events are.”

Del Rosario, 17, of Las Pinas City, who is No. 224 in the world, said, “[Lois Kaye] is an amazing short-game player and that is what match play is about. I just tried to put it on the green as much as possible and make some putts, but LK did really good today.”

Go will take those skills to Boston College in the fall.

“Golf is growing in our country,” said Go. “We’re also putting more importance on coming here to play college golf. That is the main goal for most of our junior players now.”

Global Representation

At the start of this week’s U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, the field of 156 competitors hailed from 32 U.S. states and 11 other nations. By the end of Wednesday’s Round of 64, the field had been pared to 32 players from 19 U.S. states and six other nations.

From the United States, California leads the way with 10 players, followed by two competitors each from North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

The Republic of Korea, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines each have three competitors still in the championship, followed by two players from the People’s Republic of China. Thailand and Canada each have one competitor heading into Thursday's Round of 32.

Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org. Lisa D. Mickey contributed to this report.

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