U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Five Matches to Watch for Round of 64 August 3, 2016 | Springfield, Pa. By David Shefter, USGA

Reigning NCAA Division I champion Virginia Elena Carta, of Italy and Duke University, is seeking a second national title in 2016. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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With the 9-for-5 playoff completed Wednesday morning – Muni He, of the People’s Republic of China, rolled in a 22-foot birdie putt on the par-4 11th hole to secure the final spot – the field of the 116th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship has been reduced from 156 to 64. Now, the knockout stages begin at Rolling Green Golf Club with Wednesday’s Round-of-64 matches. Many of the top amateurs advanced to match play, including six of the seven members of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team who competed this week.

Here are five matches to watch:

Mariel Galdiano, Pearl City, Hawaii vs. Muni He, People’s Republic of China (9 a.m. EDT)

Galdiano, 18, is hoping to become the third stroke-play medalist since 2000 to win the championship, following Meredith Duncan (2001) and Amanda Blumenherst (2008). Last year, the two co-medalists – Angel Yin and Jennifer Hahn – were both eliminated in the Round of 64. Galdiano, a member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team, has not had much luck in match play, with her best showing in the Women’s Amateur coming last year when she advanced to the Round of 32 before losing to Curtis Cup teammate Mika Liu, 1 down. The incoming UCLA freshman who has qualified for three U.S. Women’s Opens did win the 2015 Canadian Women’s Amateur at 72 holes of stroke play and just established a 36-hole scoring record for the Women’s Amateur at 9-under-par 133. Despite being the No. 64 seed, He, 17, could be a formidable foe. She made the 36-hole cut in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open, and advanced to match play in the 2015 U.S. Girls’ Junior, 2015 U.S.  Women’s Amateur and 2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior. He and Galdiano could also see a lot of each other over the next few years as He is expected to enroll at the University of Southern California in the fall of 2017.

Virginia Elena Carta, Italy vs. Rinko Mitsunaga, Roswell, Ga. (9:10 a.m.)

This matchup features a pair of national champions, with Carta having won the 2016 NCAA Division I individual championship in May at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club with a record eight-stroke victory. It also was the Duke University freshman’s first collegiate triumph. Mitsunaga, who just completed her freshman year at the University of Georgia, claimed the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball title in May 2015 with partner Mika Liu, who also advanced to match play. Both have enjoyed plenty of match-play experience, with Carta, 19, having represented Europe in the 2013 Junior Solheim Cup and 2014 Junior Ryder Cup. This is Mitsunaga’s 11th USGA championship, which includes four U.S. Women’s Amateur and four U.S. Girls’ Junior appearances.

Hailee Cooper, Montgomery, Texas vs. Bailey Tardy, Norcross, Ga. (10:50 a.m.)

Cooper, 16, is coming off a national championship this May when she and partner Kaitlyn Papp won the 2nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Streamsong (Fla.) Resort. She also made a strong run in last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior, advancing to the Round of 16 before falling, 1 down, to Xinying Wang. Cooper also just helped the West win the Wyndham Cup, a Ryder Cup-style event conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn. Tardy, 18, was a member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team who posted a 3-2 record at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in June, including a 4-and-3 singles victory on Sunday over Charlotte Thomas. The rising sophomore at the University of Georgia also was a stroke-play medalist in the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior and reached the Round of 16 in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Monica Vaughn has had match-play success this summer at the Curtis Cup and Ladies British Amateur. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Gabriella Then, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. vs. Monica Vaughn, Reedsport, Ore. (12:30 p.m.)

These two rising college seniors shouldn’t be strangers as they’ve crossed paths many times in the Pacific-12 Conference – Then for the University of Southern California and Vaughn for Arizona State University. Then, 20, is one of 10 USGA champions in the field this week, having won the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Ft. Wayne, Ind. This also is Then’s 13th USGA championship, including her fifth U.S. Women’s Amateur. Vaughn, 21, is coming off a strong performance in the 2016 Curtis Cup Match, having posted a 3-2 record that included a 4-and-3 singles victory over Rochelle Morris. Two weeks after the Curtis Cup, Vaughn reached the semifinals of the Ladies British Open Amateur after getting into the draw as the No. 63 seed and then beating her future ASU teammate Olivia Mehaffey in the Round of 64.

Mathilda Cappeliez, France vs. Margaret Shirley-Starosto, Roswell, Ga. (12:50 p.m.)

Shirley-Starosto, 30, enters match play as the flag-bearer for the working woman who still can play golf at an elite level. The 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and 2013 and 2015 runner-up is the oldest player to qualify for match play and the first mid-amateur to achieve the feat since 2013 at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.) when two mid-ams advanced. Shirley-Starosto’s excellent USGA match-play history and championship pedigree will make her a tough out. She faces 2015 semifinalist and incoming Wake Forest freshman Cappeliez, an 18-year-old who made the cut in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2 and also received an invite to the 2015 Evian Championship. Cappeliez is one of three French players to qualify for match play, joining 2015 Ladies British Open Amateur champion Celine Boutier and Agathe Laisne.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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