U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Defending Champs Cooper, Papp Co-Leaders at Women’s Four-Ball
May 27, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
Defending champions Hailee Cooper and Kaitlyn Papp shot 6-under-par 66 to finish in a tie with Alice Chen and Taylor Totland, and Amanda Minni and Ellie Slama, after the first round of stroke play Saturday in the 3rd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club.
Cooper, 17, of Montgomery, Texas, and Papp, 18, of Austin, Texas, shot 4 under on the outward nine before the wind picked up at the par-72 Robert Trent Jones-designed layout that played at 6,140 yards on Saturday. At 1 under through five holes, both players chipped in for birdie on the par-4 sixth. After another birdie on No. 7, Papp capped the outward nine with another chip-in birdie to move to 4 under.
“We both know when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive,” said Papp. “Most of the time, I feel like I'm the one who goes for the sure par so Hailee can be aggressive. But we can also switch it up.”
The pair, who will be teammates on the women’s golf team at the University of Texas in the fall, never felt any need to play cautiously, finishing their bogey-free round with birdies on the 11th and par-5 15th.
“We played to each other's advantages on certain holes,” said Cooper. “Putts were dropping. We could have had a few more drop, but overall, we're very happy.”
Chen, 21, of Princeton, N.J., and Totland, 22, of Tinton Falls, N.J., led or held a tie for the lead from start to finish. The Furman University teammates were in the first group to tee off and Totland put them in red numbers with a 45-foot birdie on the first green. Totland’s putter was red-hot on the outward nine, adding a 50-footer for birdie on the par-4 sixth as well as birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8.
After shooting 5 under at the turn, Chen helped keep the team on track when the wind picked up and the course played more difficult.
“Alice covered me really well on the back,” said Totland. “I would push one in the water and she would make a birdie or par. We were just having fun. Whenever one of us was in trouble, the other would bail us out.”
Minni, 17, of Canada, and Slama, 18, of Salem, Ore., teed off in the late afternoon, but thrived in the difficult conditions, carding an eagle, five birdies and one bogey.
The future Oregon State University teammates began their round with three straight pars before Minni posted an eagle on the 460-yard par-5 fourth. After a long drive, she hit a 4-wood to within 10 feet and sank the eagle putt, one of three eagles yielded by The Dunes Club on Saturday.
The pair added birdies on Nos. 7 and 10, then carded their only bogey on the par-4 11th. Slama finished the round with a birdie on the difficult par-4 18th, hitting her approach to about 9 feet and sinking the putt.
“We were just making a lot of putts out there and hitting them close,” said Slama. “Our strategy worked really well and I think that's what helped us go low.”
Finishing one stroke back of the leaders were the teams of Alden Wallace, 17, of Shreveport, La., and Libby Winans, 17, of Richardson, Texas; and Annick Haczkiewicz and Sydney Smith, a pair of 17-year-olds from Las Vegas, Nev.
Nine teams finished two strokes back at 4 under, including: 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball runners-up Angelina Kim, 14, of Los Angeles, Calif., and Brianna Navarrosa, 14, of San Diego, Calif.; Izzy Pellot, 12, of Apopka, Fla., and Chloe Schiavone, 15, of Jacksonville, Fla., the youngest team in the field; and 2016 USA Curtis Cup teammates Bailey Tardy, 20, of Norcross, Ga., and Monica Vaughn, 22, of Reedsport, Ore. Tardy qualified for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open earlier in the week and Vaughn graduated from Arizona State University earlier this month before winning the individual Women’s NCAA Championship title and leading ASU to the NCAA team title.
The second round of stroke play begins at 7 a.m. Sunday.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball is one of 13 annual national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The championship is open to sides of female amateur golfers, each of whom has a Handicap Index® not exceeding 14.4. It consists of two 18-hole rounds of stroke play, after which the field will be cut to the low 32 sides for match play. The championship concludes on May 31 with the semifinals and 18-hole championship match.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.