U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Five to Watch for Round 2 August 2, 2016 | Springfield, Pa. By David Shefter, USGA

Lucy Li, at 13, has a chance to become the youngest stroke-play medalist in U.S. Women's Amateur history. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

U.S. Women's Amateur Home

Despite the threat of late-afternoon thunderstorms, the first round of stroke play in the 116th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship was completed on Monday at Rolling Green Golf Club. Some light rain and overcast skies greeted the 156 competitors, but play never was interrupted. The weather looks promising for Tuesday’s final round of stroke play, after which the field will be cut to the low 64 scorers for match play, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. EDT on Wednesday and broadcast on Fox Sports 1 from 3-6 p.m.

Here are five storylines going into Round 2:

Who Will Be Medalist?

Mika Liu, 17, of Beverly Hills, Calif., a member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team, carded a 5-under-par 66 on Monday to lead fellow teenagers Lucy Li, 13, of Redwood Shores, Calif., and Yuka Saso, 16, of the Philippines, by one stroke. It’s been eight years since the stroke-play medalist has won the championship (Amanda Blumenherst), and it’s only happened one other time since 2000, when Meredith Duncan went 37 holes in 2001 to defeat Nicole Perrot.

Liu, who has verbally committed to attend Stanford University in 2017, already owns one USGA championship, having won the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with partner Rinko Mitsunaga last year at Bandon Dunes. She also advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior.

Li was the darling of the country two years ago when she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club at the age of 11, making her the youngest qualifier in championship history. She also qualified for match play in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at the age of 10 and nearly made match play later that summer in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Eyeing Cut Number

After the first round, 66 golfers were at 2-over 73 or better. Based on those numbers, the match-play cut seems likely to fall around 5-over 147. Those players currently sitting on the current cut number include 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team member Monica Vaughn, 2016 NCAA individual runner-up Haley Moore, reigning Mexican Women’s Amateur champion Maria Fassi and 2014 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier Jessica Porvasnik.

Pressure is On

Of course, for those currently sitting outside the cut number, Tuesday’s second round brings added pressure. Some competitors likely will have to shoot at least par or better to avoid going home early. Sierra Brooks, 18, of Sorrento, Fla., the 2015 Women’s Amateur runner-up and a 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team member, opened with a 4-over 75. Reigning U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief, 25, of Oakton, Va., carded a first-round 74 along with reigning NCAA individual champion Virginia Elena Carta, of Italy. In addition to Brooks, the group at 75 included 2015 Women’s Amateur quarterfinalist Lindsey McCurdy and 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball semifinalist Madelein Herr, of nearby New Hope, Pa. Four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 38, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., shot a 79 and likely needs a sub-par round on Tuesday to have a shot at match play.

Veteran Savvy

Last year, no mid-amateurs (25 and over) qualified for match play. But Margaret Shirley-Starosto, 30, of Roswell, Ga., showed there’s plenty of fight among the postgraduate competitors. The 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion – and runner-up in 2013 and 2015 – carded a 1-under 70, a round that included five birdies over her final 11 holes. The 2008 Auburn University graduate who now is the executive director of Atlanta Junior Golf, said she came into this championship having not played a competitive round of golf since Father’s Day. Perhaps all she needed was a couple of practice rounds to get the competitive juices flowing again.

Maybe Practice is Overrated

Due to flight complications, Maria Torres, 21, of Puerto Rico, didn’t arrive on property until late Sunday afternoon. That meant the 2015-16 Southeastern Conference Golfer of the Year would not get a chance to play the challenging William Flynn design until Monday’s first round. And with a 7:15 a.m. starting time, the University of Florida standout couldn’t even walk most of the course to get a feel for the conditions. Nevertheless, Torres carded an even-par 71 to put herself in solid position for match play. After all, it was in Philadelphia where former 76ers guard Allen Iverson once retorted to the media: “Practice? We’re talking about practice!” When approached about practice maybe being overrated, Torres just smiled. Then again, it helps to have a little golf talent, too.

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