Sunday marks the final day of stroke play in the 2nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Streamsong Blue, where 32 sides will advance to Monday’s opening round of match play. On Saturday, the projected afternoon thunderstorms never arrived and USGA officials are hoping for more of the same on Sunday.
Here are five storylines to watch:
Chasing a Medal
The powerhouse duo of Sierra Brooks and Kristen Gillman opened with a 7-under 65. Brooks, 17, of Sorrento, Fla., was the runner-up in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur and is a member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team that will be heading to Ireland in a couple of weeks. Gillman, 18, of Austin, Texas, won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
But seven other sides are within two strokes of them, making for a possible shootout on Sunday for the top seed in match play.
Kendall Griffin, 17, of Sebring, Fla., and Athena Yang, 18, of Winter Haven, Fla., the medalists last year at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon, are among the three sides who carded 6-under 66s on Saturday. Also in that group are the duo of Pauline Del Rosario and Princess Mary Superal, of the Philippines, and Isabella Fierro, 15, and Evelyn Arguelles, 18, both of Mexico.
Amid the low scores posted by the plethora of youngsters on Saturday, two Canadian senior golfers – Mary Ann Hayward and Judith Kyrinis – managed a tidy 3-under 69. These two are no strangers to national competitions. Hayward, 56, won the 2005 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and is a four-time Canadian Women’s Amateur champion. She has also represented her country in eight Women’s World Amateur Team Championships. Kyrinis, 52, reached the semifinals of the 2000 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and was the runner-up in the 2014 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.
The longtime rivals are teaming up for the first time in a four-ball event. Hayward retired in January from the Golf Association of Ontario, where she was the manager of sports performance.
Only five sides consisting fully of mid-amateur/senior golfers were inside the top 32 following the first round, led by four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi and her partner Dawn Woodard at 4-under 68. Hayward and Kyrinis lead the senior contingent.
This spring has been rough weather-wise in Canada, with unseasonably cold temperatures mixed with snow and hail, but they seem to be adjusting nicely to the heat and humidity here.
“We’re drinking plenty of water,” said Hayward after they made seven birdies against four bogeys.
Nichada Satasuk and Janelle Johnson prepared for this national championship by playing in another one earlier this week.
The sophomores at Seminole State Junior College in Sanford, Fla., helped their team to a second-place finish in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Championship at LPGA International Country Club in Daytona Beach, Fla., that ended on Thursday. Satasuk finished fourth as an individual, 13 strokes behind Ji Sun Kang of team champion Daytona State. Johnson was 21st.
They were able to sneak in 13 holes on Streamsong Blue on Friday before carding a 5-under 67 in the first round. This was only their second official round together, following their Feb. 8 qualifier at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla., where they shared medalist honors with a 67.
Satasuk, 20, is from Thailand, while Johnson, 19, of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., has Jamaican roots. In the fall, Satasuk will transfer to Southern Mississippi and Johnson will enroll at NCAA Division II golf power Nova Southeastern.
Weather permitting, the top 32 sides should be known by Sunday night. After the first round, 34 sides were at 1 under or better.
Notables currently at 1-under 71 include the oldest side, Carolyn Creekmore, 64, and LeeAnn Fairlie, 52, and sisters Nicole and Waverly Whiston. Sitting two strokes outside the number is the mother-daughter tandem of Julie and Mariah Massa.
With 18 holes remaining, the fluidity of the cutline will be interesting to watch as teams play their way in or slip below the magic number.
Whirlwind 24 Hours
Look for Lauren Greenlief, the reigning U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, to be a little more prepared for Round 2 of stroke play with partner Alexandra Austin.
On Friday, Greenlief, 25, of Oakton, Va., missed the cut in the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va., where she received a sponsor’s exemption. She and caddie Jeff Long flew from Newport News, Va., to Charlotte, N.C., on Friday night, a flight that was delayed due to weather. They barely made their connection to Tampa, Fla., but her golf clubs didn’t.
By the time they landed in Tampa, it was midnight, and they pulled into Streamsong at 2:30 a.m. Long returned to Tampa early Saturday to retrieve the luggage, while Greenlief worked with the Streamsong staff to arrange a rental set. Fortunately, the bag arrived on a morning flight and Long returned to Streamsong with a half-hour to spare before the side’s scheduled starting time.
“It’s always nice to have your own clubs,” said Greenlief, who had played 15 holes on Streamsong Blue 45 days earlier, before a thunderstorm ended her day.
Greenlief and Austin posted a 2-under 70, and Greenlief was planning on a quick dinner and an early night.
“We’ll get to start clean and have a normal warmup [on Sunday],” said Greenlief. “I had seen most of the golf course and generally knew my lines.”
Greenlief said she enjoyed her first inside-the-ropes LPGA Tour experience, despite shooting 82-75. “Having my family and close friends out there made it a special week.”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org