U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Round of 64: Notable and Quotable
August 9, 2017 | Chula Vista, Calif.
Here are some facts and figures from the Round of 64 in the 117th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at San Diego Country Club, as well as some comments from the competitors.
Child prodigies: Lucy Li, Latanna Stone and Alexa Pano – in that order – are the three youngest players to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur in championship history, and all three advanced to match play this year. Li, who at 11 years, 10 months became the youngest U.S. Women’s Open qualifier in 2014, was 10 years, 10 months, 4 days when she qualified for the 2013 Women’s Amateur at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.), where she missed the cut by two strokes.
Stone was a month older than Li when she qualified for the championship in 2010 at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio, while Pano was 11 years, 11 months last year when she failed to qualify for match play at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pa.
Pano and Li easily earned their match-play berths this year, with Stone advancing out of an 11-for-8 playoff.
Respect your elders: While seven competitors in the draw are between the ages of 12 and 15, 12 are 21 and older. Recent University of Florida graduate Maria Torres is the elder statesman of the group at 22. The 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinalist turns 23 in December.
Rank and file: Twelve players who qualified are among the top 25 in the Women’s World Amateur Ranking™, led by No. 3 Albane Valenzuela, of Switzerland, a rising sophomore at Stanford University.
Repping the USGA: Four USGA champions qualified, including newly minted U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Erica Shepherd, of Greenwood, Ind. Kristen Gillman, of Austin, Texas, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, also earned a spot in the draw, along with a pair U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball winners: Hailee Cooper (2016), of Montgomery, Texas, and Rinko Mitsunaga (2015), of Roswell, Ga.
By the numbers: All four extra-hole matches in the Round of 64 went 20 holes. ... The University of Arizona (Gigi Stoll, Krystal Quihuis and Haley Moore) and the University of Alabama (Lauren Stephenson, Kristen Gillman and Cheyenne Knight) lead the way with three players in the final 32. Northwestern, UCLA, Texas, Stanford, Duke and Washington have two apiece.
Shannon Aubert def. Samantha Hutchison, 6 and 4
On ending the three-year trend of medalists losing in the Round of 64: “I actually caddied for a French player (Justin Dreher) two year ago in Oregon (Portland Golf Club) and she had the 64th spot, and she played Angel Yin, who was the [co]-medalist and beat her. And I’ve had it happen to me before in a tournament, where I was the medalist and got knocked out in the first round. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter [your seed]. You are just a player in the field now.”
On playing the equivalent of 4-under-par golf over the final 10 holes: “Sam played great. I was lucky enough to start hitting the ball well and make a few putts. It obviously just feels good to win and have the confidence in match play. … On [holes] 5, 7 and 8, I hit it to 10 feet, 4 feet and 2 feet [to set up winning birdies].”
On facing either the reigning U.S. Girls’ Junior champion or countrywoman Agathe Laisne: “No gimmes. [Agathe] just won the European Amateur. [For me, it’s] one match at a time and play 18 holes better than that person.”
Bethany Wu def. Kaylee Bennett, 4 and 3
On winning holes 15 and 16 with birdies to close out the match: “On 15, I hit this gap wedge to like 6 feet … and then on 16 I hit the best 3-wood into the green in two [shots], so that was really good as well. Honestly, my putting was just on fire today.”
On facing 14-year-old Lucy Li in the Round of 32: “I’m not even going to think about that. She’s just another player to play against.”
Lucy Li def. Mariel Galdiano, 4 and 3
Overall thoughts on eliminating a 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team competitor: “I played really well today, actually. I'm hitting the ball way better than I was yesterday, and the last couple holes, I rolled in a couple of 20-footers unexpectedly, so that was really good. Mariel is really nice, and I had a lot of fun playing with her, so it was good.”
On what worked well in the match: “Yesterday, I was kind of having an issue with my swing, so I kind of figured it out on the range after my round, so that really helped. I hit it much straighter today. And my putting was just good, just a confident stroke, and I think the greens are a little smoother today, so that helped.”
Agathe Laisne def. Erica Shepherd, 2 and 1
On defeating the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion: “Oh really. I didn’t know [that].”
On confidence coming off winning the European Ladies Amateur two weeks ago with a pair of closing 67s: “I brought a lot of confidence, but my game isn’t that good [right now], so we’ll see tomorrow. Driving isn’t that good and when I’m in rough, I am not really good. I’ll try to keep it on the fairway tomorrow.”
On what kept the incoming University of Texas freshman in the match: “The last nine holes were better. At the beginning [of the match], it was just bogeys, bogeys, bogeys. We were a bit too offensive attacking the flags, so that’s why we [made a few more bogeys].”
On playing countrywoman and medalist Shannon Aubert in the Round of 32: “I will just play my game and play the best that I can. I know she is a really good player. So we’ll see.”
Brooke Seay def. Rachel Heck, 20 holes
On the 7-foot par putt that could have won the match on the 18th hole: “It was more the approach that was the problem. I think my dad was just saying a few things at the end, and I didn't trust my shot, so I hit it into the right bunker. I hit a pretty good shot coming out of there. She had already made par, and I hit [the putt] a little bit on the high side. But yeah, then moved on to [extra holes].”
On refocusing to play extra holes: “I think you just have to move on as soon as you can. You get mad for a second and let it energize you if you want, but I actually like the mentality of coming back a little bit more, so I think that was good for me to lose on 18 – to win two holes later actually – because I think it just heightened my focus a little bit.”
On playing a good friend and 2017 USA Junior Solheim Cup teammate (competition is next week in Des Moines, Iowa): “She's one of my good friends, actually, so it was pretty friendly. Obviously there were some parts that were pretty intense, but I'm looking forward to next week. I think we're going to try to be paired together for either foursomes or four-ball, so I'm excited for that. I know she is, too.”
Robynn Ree def. Sabrina Iqbal, 5 and 4
On getting into the field as an alternate: “I found out a week before the tournament started. When I qualified, they told me the chances of getting in [as an alternate] were pretty high. I kind of expected to get in.
On her performance against Iqbal: “I’m playing better than the last two days. More putts were dropping. I think I was able to read the lines better.”
Virginia Elena Carta def. Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, 4 and 3
On what makes the 2016 runner-up a strong match-play competitor: “I'm able to focus on one shot at a time, and even if one hole is not going my way, I'm able to finish up that hole because I'm not thinking that much about the score itself. I'm not thinking, oh, I'm 4 over, I’m 2 over. I could be like 5 under or 6 over. That does not matter in match play. It matters just like be in the present, be patient, and keep rolling putts, and if they don't go in, it's OK, they will sooner or later.”
Albane Valenzuela def. Wad Phaewchimplee, 1 up
On surviving a tough opening match: “It was a good day. I started with a couple pars, and my opponent made two very long putts for birdie. You know, I knew she was 2 up after like four or five, but I knew if I just stayed patient, keep on making my pars, and then a couple birdies down the stretch, I would be good. I made really good putts to save par, as well, so that kind of got me going, and I think my putting was really solid and very steady the entire round. Nothing too crazy. Pretty pleased with my round.”
On her mindset for this week’s event after a tough finish to the European Ladies Amateur Championship two weeks ago (lost a seven-stroke lead): “It was definitely a bummer. I really wanted to get that win, but at the same time, I think for my golf, it's good that this happened to me. You look at great champions like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, they all had that kind of moment. If it happens to the best, it also has to happen to amateurs. I think it was really good for myself. I think I learned from it, and I know I can lose when I'm seven shots ahead but I can also win when I'm seven shots back. I guess it's a good golf lesson. I still finished second. It's a really good performance. I take it as a motivator, and it makes me hungrier to come here and just do well.”
Kristen Gillman def. Hailee Cooper, 3 and 2
On the pressure of trying to win a second U.S. Women’s Amateur: “I feel like you can look at it both ways. It is added pressure because there's a lot of people talking about how you've won this tournament before, but then there's also no added pressure because playing it you know you've won. Obviously you want to win, but if you lose, at least I've won it before.”
On what it takes to win the championship: “It takes a lot. It's a really long week. My dad and I were talking about it out on the course how it's a long week, so you can't really make any mistakes. You have to play well every single day, and it's like seven days long. It's a lot of golf, but I mean, you just have to stay on top of your game.”
Isabella Fierro def. Alexa Pano, 4 and 3
On the 16-year-old from Mexico beating someone four years younger: “Alexa is a great player and she played well. Once you are in the Women’s Amateur, I think everyone is on the same level. You just want to keep the mind calm and be patient with every single shot. That’s the one who is going to win.”
On any confidence gained from winning last month’s Women’s North & South at Pinehurst: “I came here and, of course, it’s a new tournament and a new field. And I knew the best women’s players in the world are playing here. It was great to win there, but this week you start fresh and new.”
On having Hall-of-Famer Lorena Ochoa’s instructor, Rafael Alarcon, working with her: “Right now, I feel like I can ask her a lot of questions and she will answer really, really honestly. I just feel great that she is in the [World Golf] Hall of Fame right now and is Mexican.”
Krystal Quihuis def. Jennifer Kupcho, 2 and 1
On knocking out the No. 4 player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™: “I knew coming into the match she was going to be tough to beat. She won [NCAA] regionals, that was in Georgia and I was also there [with my University of Arizona teammates]. And she almost won NCAAs. I knew it was going to be a brutal day, but I just wanted to stay positive. All you can do is one shot at a time and do what you can do.
On being the underdog, according to the WAGR: “To be honest, I don’t really pay attention to that. I just try to stick to my own game plan and hopefully the results are what I hope to see.”
On Arizona players going 3-for-3 in the Round of 64, which included victories by Haley Moore and Gigi Stoll: “Perfect. We’re all trying to get through it. We’ll see what happens, but I am happy for them too.”