U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Round of 16: Five Storylines
May 30, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.
By David Chmiel, USGA
Sixteen teams will begin the day Tuesday in the 3rd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club. At the end of the day, only four will remain, with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals both taking place. Here are five things to keep an eye on:
WAKEUP CALL Monica Vaughn and Bailey Tardy continued to ride the hot streak from Vaughn’s individual and team wins in last week’s NCAA Championship and Tardy’s qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open. Just relying on that momentum nearly got them in hot water.
“Well, today we were 8 under (9 under par) I think as a team, and you know, I guess we kind of just thought we had it in the bag,” said Vaughn, 22, of Reedsport, Ore. “That was a little immature of us because [Jaravee Boonchant and Ya Chun Chang] really came out strong. I mean, they came in clutch – I think we tied three holes with birdies. They just played some really solid golf today.”
That little wake-up call could spur the pair to try to make quick work of 20 seed Katrina Prendergast and Ellen Secor.
YOUTH WILL BE SERVED We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but as the field is presently constituted, just less than one-third of the competitors would be able to legally put an adult beverage into the trophy to celebrate a victory. The maturity and ability that belies the chronological age of the players who remain in the field is a testament to the youth programs that are developing the future of women’s golf. The clutch snaking 30-foot par putt that 12-year-old Izzy Pellot made on the 18th green to win her match is just one example.
PROVING THEIR METTLE The co-medalists continued to be a triple threat in the Round of 32. Alice Chen/Taylor Totland, defending champs Hailee Cooper/Kaitlyn Papp and Brittany Fan/Esther Lee continued to ride their hot hands to victories in the Round of 32. On paper, the teams are facing competitors who would be considered heavy underdogs. But in match play, it doesn’t make sense to talk about what things look like on paper.
SCORING Without exception, the players are raving about the quality of The Dunes Club’s layout – especially the work on the greens that was done by Rees Jones, noted architect and son of original Dunes Club architect Robert Trent Jones. Rees and his team helped rework the contouring of some of the greens in advance of the 2014 PGA National Championship, held at The Dunes Club. The players in the championship have commented on the challenge of getting approach shots to come to rest on the proper quadrant of the green that gives them the best chance to make a putt. Teams will try to have to strike the balance between being too cautious and too aggressive. Aiming for middle of these large greens will make two-putts challenging, while trying to be bold on birdie putts could leave teams struggling to save pars.
STICKY SITUATION Now that the unofficial start of summer has come and gone, it’s only appropriate that the South Carolina humidity make its presence felt. With the two rounds scheduled Tuesday, the heat and humidity could take a toll on the teams, no matter how young the competitors may be. Dunes Club head golf professional Dennis Nicholl says that, while the humidity could have an impact on the players, the weather shouldn’t create any other problems.
“We kind of laugh when the weatherman says there is a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms,” he said. “It’s Myrtle Beach, there is always a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms.”
David Chmiel is the manager of member content for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.