U.S. GIRLS' JUNIOR
U.S. Girls’ Junior Round 2: Five Things to Know July 17, 2018 | Pebble Beach, Calif. By David Shefter, USGA

Longtime NCGA volunteer Russ Adamson, 77, is finally getting to work a USGA championship this week. (USGA/JD Cuban)

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Poppy Hills Golf Course, playing host to its first USGA championship, shined brightly – once the morning marine layer burned off – in Monday’s first round of stroke play in the 70th U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship. The Robert Trent Jones II layout provided a stern test, even if Northern Californian Lucy Li shattered the women’s competitive course record while matching the 18-hole championship mark held by Christina Kim and Kimberly Kim (no relation).

The stroke average for Round 1 was 76.8, nearly six strokes over the posted par of 71.

Thirteen competitors bettered par, but 39 golfers failed to break 80, as Poppy Hills provided a strong test for the game’s best junior players.

On Tuesday, the 156 players will play one more 18-hole round, with the low 64 advancing to match play beginning on Wednesday. Here are five things to ponder going into the final round of stroke play:

Perfect Swan Song

Before players hit their drives on the first tee, they might want to introduce themselves to Russ Adamson, a 77-year-old from Santa Rosa, Calif., who has been a volunteer for the Northern California Golf Association since 1986. While Adamson has assisted with many USGA qualifying events in his 33 years with the NCGA, the U.S. Girls’ Junior is his first at a championship proper. This week, Adamson is helping forecaddies locate tee shots. With these girls, he hasn’t seen too many drives go astray.

“This is an absolute blast,” said Adamson, who plans to move to Green Valley, Ariz., in the not-so-distant future. “These girls are just fantastic.”

Born and raised in Madison, N.J., Adamson attended Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., before eventually settling in Northern California as a small-business owner. He’s played golf since the age of 7. At the NCGA, he’s been a course rater and Rules official, earning course rater of the year from the association in 1996.

Repeat Performance?

A year ago, Lucy Li, of Redwood Shores, Calif., earned medalist honors at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo., by one stroke over Patty Tavatanakit, who was the low amateur in last month’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek. But Li saw her stay in the championship end prematurely with a Round-of-32 defeat to Yu-Sang Hou, of Chinese Taipei, who helped Arizona win the NCAA Division I title in May.

After shooting a record-tying 62 in Monday’s first round, Li was asked about going for medalist honors again, and perhaps the 36-hole USGA amateur championship scoring mark of 130 set by Taylore Karle in the 2005 Girls’ Junior at BanBury Golf Club in Eagle, Idaho.

“I was thinking that would be great,” said Li. “But this is obviously a match-play tournament so that’s not really the end goal. But [being medalist again] would be great.”

Survival Game

On the other end of the spectrum are the players who will be grinding hard and doing a lot of scoreboard watching, either online or standing around the scoreboard as the numbers get posted. Several notables will be feeling internal pressure to play well just to get into the match-play draw.

Seventy-one players currently stand at 4 over or better after Round 1. Taking that number, doubling it and adding one often is a good formula to use in calculating the projected cut.

Players below that number include 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball co-champion Hailee Cooper, this year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball runner-up Yu Chun Chang, 2018 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier Dana Williams and four-time U.S. Girls’ Junior qualifier Malia Nam.

X Factor

Ashley Menne knows about championship pressure. Her high school, Xavier College Prep, an all-girls catholic school in Phoenix, Ariz., has won 35 state titles, including 19 in a row, since 1980. USGA champions Grace Park (1998 U.S. Women’s Amateur), Amanda Blumenherst (2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur) and the late Heather Farr (1982 U.S. Girls’ Junior; 1984 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links) attended the school and the team is co-coached by Thuhashini Selvaratnam, the 2006 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up.

Menne’s teammate, Bailee Tayles, and former teammate Elizabeth Caldarelli (rising sophomore at Texas A&M) are also competing this week at Poppy Hills.

“Of course there is pressure [at Xavier Prep] because you are expected to do well,” said Menne, a rising junior who carded a 2-under 69 in Monday’s first round of stroke play and is a past finalist in the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship. “Everyone looks at us like we are No. 1 in the state. But it’s fun.”

Taking Sides

The USGA decided to reverse the nines for this year’s championship to the original routing of the course. But when the public plays Poppy Hills, they start on what is the 10th hole. The reason is twofold: No. 10, a par 5, is a slightly easier opening hole, and because of its location across the parking lot, it allows for better pace of play since the 18th green is adjacent to the first tee.

So far after Round 1, neither side appears to have an advantage. The outward nine played to a stroke average of 38.42, while the second nine averaged 38.39.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.