U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Five Thoughts Heading Into Semifinals
May 25, 2016 | Bowling Green, Fla.
By David Shefter, USGA
After a couple of practice rounds, two stroke-play rounds and three rounds of match play, the 2nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Streamsong Blue has reached the final stretch. Four sides remain as the semifinals and championship match will be contested on Wednesday. The final four features a pair of 13-year-olds, two Filipinas, a couple of Texas high-school standouts, and two post-college Virginians.
We have the medalists (Princess Mary Superal and Pauline Del Rosario) and a side that needed a playoff to qualify, both for the championship proper and match play (2015 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief and Alexandra Austin). Southern Californians Brianna Navarrosa and Angelina Kim aren’t old enough to drive, while Hailee Cooper and Kaitlyn Papp were partners for the West Team in last year’s Wyndham Cup, a Ryder Cup-style event conducted by the American Junior Golf Association.
Here are a few tidbits about the sides going into Wednesday morning’s semis.
It’s Mickey’s World
Before making this run to the semifinals, Navarrosa and Kim had planned to take the 90-minute trip with their parents to Disney World in Orlando. Their run to the semifinals has nixed those plans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the Magic Kingdom on their minds.
“We’re this far, so we might as well figure that the holes are Disney World rides,” said Navarrosa. “That’s what we made it. Each birdie [we make] is a ride, so we went on seven today [in the quarterfinals].”
Some of those rides included Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones and the “Tea Cups,” said Kim.
Kim, of Los Angeles, and Navarrosa, of San Diego, have visited Disneyland, so they have not lost out completely.
“I guess making it to the finals [would] be more meaningful,” said Navarrosa. “I’d rather hold the trophy than go to Disney World.”
Incentive to Win
The ad went like this: “Hey, [insert name], you just won the Super Bowl, where are you going next?” Answer: “I’m going to Disney World!”
Hailee Cooper will be reenacting that campaign if she and her partner, Kaitlyn Papp, win the championship. Although she has finals next week, Cooper’s father, Ronnie, made a promise that if they won, she’d get a trip to see Mickey.
“The whole family’s going to fly out,” said Cooper, who is from the Houston suburb of Montgomery.
Papp would certainly love to join the fun, but she has another golf event this weekend. She is flying to Arizona for the American Junior Golf Association’s Thunderbird Classic in Scottsdale.
“I was going to fly out there on Thursday,” said Papp, a Travis High junior who plans to play at her hometown school, the University of Texas in Austin in the fall of 2017. “I don’t know if I am anymore since we’re playing [on Wednesday]. So basically after this tournament is over, I have to leave.”
Papp and Cooper didn’t register for the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball last year because they were so involved in junior events they didn’t know it existed. It was only after hearing what a fun event it was that Papp decided to call Cooper. They knew each other well from junior events and were on the same Wyndham Cup team.
“I was like, ‘Hey, I should form a team and come out here and play,’” said Papp.
Cooper and Papp said they mesh well as a team because they’re accurate and possess power off the tee. Having previous four-ball experience has helped as well, and they’ve figured out the strategy of team match play.
“We do well at planning,” said Cooper. “We do well talking through shots.”
Eyeing Another National Title
Princess Mary Superal already has experienced the thrill of winning a USGA championship, having claimed the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship in 37 holes over Marijosse Navarro at Forest Highlands in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Now she has a shot to win a second, this time with a partner. Superal and countrywoman Pauline Del Rosario posted a record score of 12-under 132 in stroke play, and have continued that strong play through three matches. The duo birdied the final three holes in their 1-up quarterfinal win over 2015 Women’s Amateur Four-Ball semifinalists Madelein Herr and Brynn Walker.
“I’ll do my best [on Wednesday],” said Superal. “I need help from [my partner] too.”
Superal and Del Rosario are part of the Philippine National Team. They play out of the same club in Manila and have been globetrotting the past few months to events in several Southeast Asian countries. They plan to remain in the U.S. the rest of the summer, playing out of a home base in suburban Los Angeles. Fellow Filipinas, Mikhaela Fortuna and Sofia Chabon, who were eliminated in Tuesday’s Round of 16, served as their caddies in the quarterfinals.
Next week, the girls are planning a trip to a theme park in California. But first there’s a little more golf to play.
During stroke play, the 205-yard 16th hole on Streamsong Blue played as the most difficult hole with a stroke average of 3.590. Given its place in the round, the uphill hole can play a pivotal role in deciding matches. Del Rosario has birdied it two of the last three rounds. Her 2 closed out the side’s Round of 32 win, and the second deuce fueled a late rally to defeat Herr and Walker in the quarterfinals.
“I hit a 19-degree rescue,” said Del Rosario of her shot on Tuesday. “It was 198 yards. Yesterday, I used a 3-wood. My woods have been pretty good this week.”
Some players are hitting as much as a driver, depending on the wind direction.
“We always joke about that hole,” said Alexandra Austin, who, along with partner Lauren Greenlief, have played the hole in 4 over par. “Just hitting driver into it these past couple days has been brutal.”
Added Greenlief: “Today the wind was sitting down so I was able to take two full clubs less, and it made the hole a little bit more playable. But having that 205-yard shot up in the wind, with the big bunker on the right, gives you something to think about. You have to visualize the shot and try to hit it on the left side of the green.
“You try to make a 3 and hope it’s good enough.”
Quote of the Day
As Hailee Cooper and her father/caddie Ronnie approached the 14th tee in the afternoon – their 30th hole of the day – they eyed a good-sized alligator lurking in the water in front of the tee. “He can smell how tired you are, Dad,” Cooper mock-warned her father.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ron Driscoll, manager of editorial services for the USGA, contributed.