U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Solo Act and Eyeing Match-Play Cut Highlight Round 2 Storylines April 29, 2018 | Tarzana, Calif. By David Shefter, USGA

Kelly Wilson won't have to go at it alone in Round 2 of stroke play on Sunday at El Caballero Country Club. (USGA/J.D. Cuban)

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The first round of stroke play in the 4th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at El Caballero Country Club produced great Southern California weather accompanied by great scoring.

Thirty-two of the 64 sides posted even par or better, led by the duo of Yachun Chang and Lei Ye, who carded a championship-record-tying 8-under 64.

What will Sunday’s final round of stroke play produce?

Here are five storylines heading into cut day:

Solo Act

Kelly Wilson hoped to deliver better news when she drove to LAX late Saturday afternoon to pick up her partner, Lynne Cowan. Due to a work conflict, Cowan, who resides in Rocklin, Calif., couldn’t get to El Caballero in time for the first round, so Wilson, 44, of El Dorado Hills, Calif., was forced to play alone. Her goal was to post a score in the mid to upper 70s. But a triple bogey and two double bogeys led to a disappointing 81.

“I treated it like a regular stroke-play round,” said Wilson. “Try not to make any big numbers and keep yourself in it on Day 1. I could have used [Lynne] on a few holes today. I lost seven strokes [on three holes]. That’s a 74 [instead of an 81] today. I left a lot of shots out there. I am ready to play better [Sunday]. I know she’s really excited to get here.”

Cowan and her husband run a golf merchandise business and had to be in Sacramento this weekend for a big exposition. With thousands in attendance, Cowan could not skip the event.

Four-ball rules allow for a side to be comprised of one player, so even though Wilson started the round at a disadvantage, she kept the team in the championship. Of course, it will take a supremely low round on Sunday for the side to have a chance of advancing to match play.

“It’s going to be a really fun challenge,” said Wilson. “We play very well together. She is a super straight hitter. She’s awesome at chipping, short game, putting. She doesn’t hit the ball quite as far. As a partnership, we do well because she makes a ton of pars and keeps us in holes, and I can hit longer and be more aggressive. We’ll need a good day.”

Eyeing the Cut

The second round of stroke play at a USGA championship always brings drama as players hope to go low enough to qualify for match play.

All eyes will be on the scoreboard as the sun sets on Sunday. After Round 1, 32 teams were at even par or better. If the scoring remains similar on Sunday, the cut could come at even-par 144 or 145.

Notables clinging on the number include four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi and Dawn Woodard (72); and the two youngest teams in the field: Chloe Kovelesky and Karoline Tuttle (72); and Avery Zweig and Maria Barrientos (73). Also sitting at 73 is 2010 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Mina Hardin and 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Corey Weworski.

One side that will certainly need to go low on Sunday is the duo of 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief and Katie Miller, who posted a 79.

Showing Respect

Before and after each round, Yuchan Chang takes a moment to bow. The 17-year-old from Chinese Taipei isn’t praying to the heavens or thanking a supreme being. It is just her way of showing respect and acknowledging how fortunate she is to have the chance to compete on a wonderful layout.

Judging by how well Chang and her partner Lei Ye played on Saturday, perhaps more competitors will copy the gesture.

A little gratitude never hurts.

Gym Rats

Annick Haczkiewicz and Sydney Smith took away one key intangible from last year’s run to the quarterfinals: they needed more stamina. So this past year, the two Las Vegas teens amped up their workout regimen. It paid off in two ways. They aren’t as tired on the golf course and they added 10 yards off the tee.

That added distance showed in Saturday’s first round of stroke play when the duo carded a 6-under 66.

"This year, we’re just a little bit stronger,” said Haczkiewicz. “Last year we were struggling toward the end when we were playing 36 [holes in a day].”

Second-Chance Opportunity

Early Friday morning, Jennifer Cai and Yoonju (Mary) Shin were enjoying another Southern California day in Irvine, Calif. Then the USGA called asking if they were interested in playing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

A day earlier, qualifiers Elle Nachmann and Stephanie Carras withdrew and the two alternate sides from the Glenview, Ill., site turned down the spots. Due to the last-minute notice, neither team could get to California, either logistically or financially. So the USGA contacted Cai and Shin, who live two hours from El Caballero. The second alternates from the Vista, Calif., qualifier on March 5 – the first alternates Michelle and Alice Duan already had gotten into the field – happily accepted the spot, and it looks to be a good decision.

On Saturday, Shin and Cai posted a 3-under 69, putting the side in solid position to qualify for match play.

Other alternates also performed well in Round 1. Another California side, Lauren Gomez, of San Diego, and Olivia Yun, fired a 68.

Last year in the U.S. Amateur Four- Ball Championship, Clark Collier and Kyle Hudelson, who got into the field a week prior, advanced all the way to the final match.

What’s the old adage, just give me a chance? So far, a couple of teams are doing just that.

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

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