U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Tardy and Vaughn Among Round-of-32 Winners at Women’s Four-Ball May 29, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. By Joey Flyntz, USGA

Bailey Tardy (left) and Monica Vaughn shot 9 under par to win their Round-of-32 match Monday at The Dunes Club. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

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Bailey Tardy and Monica Vaughn, members of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team, were among the 16 victorious sides in Monday’s Round of 32 in the 3rd U.S Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, joining all three co-medalists on the winning side of the ledger.

Tardy and Vaughn shot 9 under par given match-play concessions on the par-72 Robert Trent Jones Sr. course, which played at 6,095 yards, and needed every bit of it to hold off a game Jaravee Boonchant and Ya Chun Chang side that shot 6 under, for a 2-up victory.

Tardy, 20, of Norcross, Ga., drained a 40-foot eagle putt on the par-5 fourth hole for a 1-up lead, and although Tardy and Vaughn led the rest of the match, Boonchant, 18, of Thailand, and Chang, 16, of Bradenton, Fla., stayed within a two-hole margin all day thanks to some clutch play.

“That was pretty fun. I think that kind of got the momentum rolling on the front nine for sure, but those girls were good,” said Tardy, who qualified for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open last week. “They stuck it very close. We conceded a lot of birdie putts to them because of how close it was. They put up a good fight.”

The outcome could have been a much more dicey if not for a fortunate mistake by Tardy on The Dunes’ signature par-5 13th hole named “Waterloo,” which played at 526 yards on Monday. A severe dogleg with Lake Singleton in the middle, Tardy attempted to cut off the lake with a 3-wood on her second shot, but mishit it slightly. Fortunately, it skipped perfectly off the surface and found safe haven, leading to a 15-foot birdie putt to win the hole.

Leading 1 up on the 18th hole, Tardy stuck her tee shot to within 10 feet and they sealed the match with a conceded par. Although both players admitted they thought it may have been easier, they also agreed that being pushed to the limit could be beneficial.

“Yeah, I think so. It's nice to see all the golf course because we may have to do that tomorrow, as much as we probably didn't want to play 18 today,” said Vaughn, 22, of Reedsport, Ore., who won the individual Women’s NCAA Championship and helped Arizona State University to the team title last week. “I mean, we did hit 18 tee shots.”

The three co-medalist sides all advanced with various degrees of difficulty.

Alice, Chen, 21, of Princeton, N.J., and Taylor Totland, 22, of Tinton Falls, N.J., rolled to a 6-and-4 victory over Brigitte Dunne, 20, of Camarillo, Calif., and Alexandra Rossi, 22, of Austin, Texas. All square through five holes, Chen and Totland – former teammates at nearby Furman University – recorded seven straight birdies, winning five holes in that dominant stretch to build a significant lead.

“Yeah, we started off slow, but we were just really attacking the flag and gave ourselves really good birdie opportunities and took advantage of them,” said Totland.

Defending champions Hailee Cooper, 17, of Montgomery, Texas, and Kaitlyn Papp, 18, of Austin, Texas, made a rare bogey to lose the first hole to the sister duo of Nicole Whiston, 15, of San Diego, Calif., and Waverly Whiston, 17, of San Diego, Calif. They scrambled to stay close from there before finally taking the lead with a par on the par-3 ninth hole.

“It was kind of a wake-up call for me,” said Papp of the team’s opening bogey. “I didn't get up and down from a pretty simple area, so I think for me it was more like, OK, you need to get something going.”

The future University of Texas teammates got it going from holes 11-16, making four birdies and three in a row from 14-16 to earn a 4-and-2 victory.

As defending champions, Cooper and Papp were pleased to overcome a strong push and come out on the winning end.

“It kind of makes us aware. Definitely after today, I'm like, hey, I know what I need to go work on, and I'm about to go work on it,” said Cooper. “So it kind of helped us figure out what we need to do for tomorrow.”

Brittany Fan, 21, of Pearl City, Hawaii, and Esther Lee, 22, of Los Alamitos, Calif., former University of Colorado teammates, won three of the first four holes in their match against the only mid-amateur team to qualify for match play: four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 39, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Dawn Woodard, 42, of Greenville, S.C.

But Stasi and Woodard won holes 6 and 8 to cut the deficit to one. Fan and Lee again went 3 up with wins on 12 and 13, but Stasi and Woodard kept fighting back, winning three of the next four holes to send the match to the decisive 18th hole. When Lee stuck a 6-iron to 6 feet from 146 yards, it looked like the outcome was all but determined with no one else close to the hole. But Stasi gave her 25-foot, severe downhill putt a good roll, scaring the right edge before Lee converted her putt for the 2-up victory.

Having played against Stasi before, Fan knew better than to expect anything to come easily.

“I played with Meghan before maybe four, five years ago in a match-play tournament and I remember I had quite a bit of a lead, but she was fighting her way back,” she said. “You always assume that your opponent is going to play well on every shot.”

Only one match went to extra holes, with former University of Georgia players Sammi Lee, 22, of Athens, Ga., and Mary Ellen Shuman, 22, of St. Simons Island, Ga., alternating clutch putts for a 19-hole win over last year’s runners-up, Angelina Kim, 14, of Los Angeles, Calif., and Brianna Navarrosa, 14, of San Diego, Calif.

Kim and Navarossa led 3 up after 11 holes before winning the next three with birdies to square the match, which stayed all square going to the 18th hole. With all four players in trouble after their approach shots, it was Shuman who came through with an up-and-down from the left greenside bunker, converting a clutch 15-foot birdie putt to stave off elimination.

“Yeah, we knew it was going to break a little right to left and we had nothing to lose, so I had a little pace on it just to make sure it got there, and just trusted the line,” said Shuman. [Navarossa] was going to have pretty much a similar look at it, so that gave me a little bit more confidence, as well, to have two looks almost at the same putt, so I just hit it, and I feel like I said, make sure you get it there, don't leave it short.”

On the 19th hole, the par-4 first, it was Lee’s turn to bail out Shuman, who eventually picked up on the hole. From the fairway, Lee was more left on her approach than she intended, but got a fortuitous kick to the right, to 7 feet from the hole.

With Navarrosa in for par, Kim missed her long birdie putt, setting the stage for Lee. Still needing at least a par to avoid elimination, Lee had to be cautiously aggressive.

“We decided outside-right because I wasn't going to hit it very hard because I still needed to make the 4, and it ran way past the hole,” said Lee. “I thought I left it short, but it just snuck in the left corner. But it was the right read, and would have been an easy tap-in had it not gone in, but it did, thankfully.”  

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 is cut to the low 32 sides for match play.

The Round of 16 begins at 7 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, followed by the quarterfinals in the afternoon. The championship concludes on Wednesday with the semifinals and 18-hole championship match.

Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at jflyntz@usga.org

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