U.S. GIRLS' JUNIOR
Quotable: Hear From Semifinalists at Poppy Hills
July 21, 2018 | Pebble Beach, Calif.
The Semifinal matches of the fog-delayed 70th U.S. Girls' Junior Championship were contested on Saturday morning at Poppy Hills Golf Course. The winners had little time between the matches to prepare for the 36-hole championship match, but before heading to lunch and warming up, the USGA caught up with both the winners and losers of those matches. Here is what they had to say:
Alexa Pano def. Lucy Li, 1 up
Pano, 13, of Lake Worth, Fla., on defeating the medalist and top seed:
"I thought of Lucy as any other competitor. I thought if I thought about all of her accomplishments and how good she is, that it would kind of mess with my head. But hat's off to her, she played insanely well and made me struggle almost more than any other match I had this week."
Pano, on where this win ranks among her career accomplishments:
"Probably one of the biggest things I've ever done. Coming into this week, it's been insane and such a struggle for me, switching between three different caddies and going through so many different struggles this week. It's just -- it feels so good to just be in the finals finally."
On the three-year exemption from Girls' Junior qualifying as a finalist:
"It's so hard to get into qualifiers for these events because when you're in season, it's really hard to just drop everything and have to fly to a place, and I'd love to just stay home and do a qualifier. Being able to be exempt for a few years, I'm really happy to be able to do that."
Li, 15, of Redwoord Shores, Calif., on the 1-down loss to Pano:
"I don't know. I think it just wasn't meant to be. I hit those [short birdie] putts good [on No. 9 and 18, the latter to force extra holes] and I made a lot of good putts on the front nine ... I felt like I played really well this week. Obviously being medalist, I just wanted to make it further than I did last year (Round of 32). And I am really happy with how I played."
Li on Pano's performance:
"We both played really well today. I made a couple of mistakes with my drives coming down the back nine. Most of the holes were won with par or birdie and it was a good match."
Li on what she learned from her deep run this week at Poppy Hills:
"I'm really excited for the U.S. [Women's' Am next month at The Golf Club of Tennessee] and obviously a lot of confidence coming in. I feel like I'm much physically stronger than I was last year when I was in the Quarterfinals of the U.S. Women's Am. So I will have a lot of confidence going in and I am really looking forward to it."
Yealimi Noh def. Gina Kim, 3 and 2
Noh, 16, of Concord, Calif., on advancing to the Championship Match:
"I'm really excited. I am feeling good with my game right now. I think I made four birdies and no bogeys [over the 16 holes]. It was a tough match, though. I didn't get past 2 up until the last hole because she made birdies, like long putts, and it was back and forth [the entire way]. It was a really good match."
Noh on a key putt or two that stood out:
"There were two toward the end. On 14, the par 4, I hit my [tee] shot in the bunker on the left and then I shanked it out into the other bunker next to the green. Then I got out and had about 9 feet and I made that for par. And just now on 16, I was in a bunker again. I got out and had 10 feet for par [and converted]."
Noh on facing Pano in the final:
"I actually played a practice round with her at the Girls Junior [PGA Championship] last week. So it will be fun playing against her." (Noh won the Girls Junior PGA Championship with a record-24-under total of 264)
Noh on the state of her game going into the championship match:
"I just need to hit a couple of drives [on the practice range] because I mishit a couple of them at the end. But I am feeling good with my putting and short game."
Kim, on what she takes away from the week:
"It's definitely been a long week, but it's nice to see that I improved a lot and to see that I matured more as a better golf player. I think as sad as it is to lose in the Semifinals and not being able to make it, I think I definitely learned something, and it's a great learning experience for me."
Kim, on the match against Noh:
"Yealimi is a very impressive player.She was definitely making her birdies out there, especially on the par 5s, she was bombing it down. And I'm basically trying to play smart, trying to get those birdies, as well. But I think I just made a few more mistakes than her, and I think that's what caused me to lose. But I'm definitely learning from that. Hopefully I'll come back better than before at the U.S. Women's Am."