U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Late Comeback Carries Prendergast, Secor to Title
May 2, 2018 | Tarzana, Calif.
By David Shefter, USGA
Just call them the rallying Rams.
Colorado State University golfers Katrina Prendergast, 20, of Sparks, Nev., and Ellen Secor, 20, of Portland, Ore., erased a 2-down deficit with four holes to play to defeat Lei Ye, 16, of the People’s Republic of China, and Yachun Chang, 17, of Chinese Taipei, 1 up, in the 18-hole final match on a chilly and breezy Wednesday in the San Fernando Valley.
Trailing by two holes on the 15th tee, the side proceeded to win three consecutive holes capped by Prendergast converting a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th hole for a 1-up lead.
On the 18th green, Ye had one final chance to force extra holes after Secor and Prendergast both missed their birdie chances. But Ye's downhill 7-foot putt slid past the hole on the low side.
An emotional Secor immediately dropped to her knees. Then after congratulating their opponents, the two teammates enjoyed a long and celebratory embrace before their parents joined in.
“I don't know how to describe it,” said Secor of becoming a USGA champion. “So many people to thank, so many thoughts running through my mind right now. I think just what keeps recurring is that hard work finally paid off.”
Added Prendergast: “Especially so many people backing us up and pulling for us really helped, especially back home. They couldn't be here, but they're still pulling for us no matter what.”
Chang, who has signed to play at the University of Arizona this fall, and Ye, who has committed to attend Stanford University in 2019, appeared in control of the see-saw match after winning holes 13 and 14 – the former on Ye’s 8-foot birdie and the latter on a 6-foot par putt by Ye – to grab a 2-up advantage.
But walking to the 15th tee, Secor sensed the small gallery pulling for the two international golfers. Secor channeled her emotions and focused even harder.
“That's how she plays,” Pendergast said of her teammate. “She gets fired up, and that really helps her, and I think it actually helped me, too. I got pumped up after I made par on 15, and then we got two good shots in on 16. We had the tee, and I think those two shots really helped put pressure on them.”
Wayward tee shots by Ye and Chang helped Secor and Prendergast win No. 15 with a par. On the par-3 16th, Secor and Prendergast both found the green, and the former drained a 12-foot birdie putt to square the match for a fifth time.
That set the stage for Prendergast, a junior who is No. 208 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™. She ripped a drive and reached the 17th green with a 7-iron from 160 yards. Her long eagle putt trickled 5 feet past the hole before she calmly made the comebacker. Secor then screamed, “Catch Ram Fever.”
Back in Fort Collins, Colorado State head coach Annie Young was excitedly following online, and immediately texted her two players following the match. Thurman knows the feeling of being a USGA champion, having claimed the 2002 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links title at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort. She also was a member of the victorious 2004 USA Curtis Cup Team. The three will likely celebrate on the way to NCAA Regionals this weekend in Austin, Texas, where Secor, a sophomore, and Prendergast, a junior, are competing as individuals.
The final began at 1 p.m. with temperatures hovering in the upper 50s and winds gusting to as much as 14 mph. Neither team enjoyed more than a 1-up lead on the outward nine, but Secor, No. 489 in the WAGR, delivered the best shot, lacing a 5-iron tee shot on the 193-yard eighth to within 18 inches. The tap-in birdie squared the match. Prendergast followed by making a 10-foot birdie on the ninth hole for a 1-up advantage at the turn.
A bogey on No. 10 squared the match before Ye and Le pulled ahead by two holes on Nos. 13 and 14.
In the semifinals earlier on Wednesday, Secor and Predergast shot the equivalent of 5 under par over 16 holes in eliminating reigning U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Erica Shepherd, 17, of Greenwood, Ind., and her future Duke University teammate, Megan Furtney, 17, of Chicago, Ill., 3 and 2.
Ye, No. 151 in the WAGR, and Chang, No. 136 in the WAGR, ousted 2015 Drive, Chip & Putt national finalist Leila Dizon, 18, of Los Angeles, Calif., and Irene Kim, 17, of La Palma, Calif., 4 and 3. The two registered six birdies against no bogeys – with the usual match-play concessions – over 15 holes.
What the Champions Receive
The winners each receive a gold medal and custody of the U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Trophy for one year. They are also exempt from qualifying for the next 10 championships, provided the side remains intact. Their names will also be enscribed on a plaque recognizing all of the 2018 USGA champions that will reside in the Hall of Champions inside the USGA Golf Museum in Liberty Corner, N.J.
- Lei Ye and Yachun Chang were trying to become the first international champions in the short history of the championship. Ye would have become the second USGA champion from the People's Republic of China after Alice (Fumie) Jo claimed the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links title. Chang would have been the first player from Chinese Taipei to win a USGA title since Yani Tseng’s 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links victory.
- Ellen Secor and Katrina Prendergast are the second consecutive college teammates to win the Women’s Amateur Four-Ball after Furman teamates Taylor Totland and Alice Chen prevailed at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club a year ago.
- After the semifinal loss with partner Irene Kim on Wednesday morning, Leila Dizon headed back to class at nearby Marlborough School, where she is set to graduate in 29 days. Dizon will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Despite missing several days of school, the 2015 Drive, Chip & Putt national finalist squeezed in homework assignments nightly.
Prendergast on joining her coach as a USGA champion: “We’ve learned so much from her in the past three years I've been there and the two years [Ellen] has been there, and just to be under her and to look at her past and how we can build on that basically is even better.”
Secor on the back-and-forth first nine holes: “The first nine was a little shaky. That front nine was like a roller coaster. They won holes [5 and 7] to get 1 up, I was like, ‘Okay, this is a match,’ because that was the first time we were ever down in this whole tournament.”
Ye on the birdie try she just missed on No. 18 to force extra holes: “Honestly, I felt like I had a pretty good chance at it. I had been putting decent all week, and I think I gave a pretty good run at it, and it lipped out, so I guess it wasn't meant to be.”
Ye on what the side was feeling throughout the tense match: “Yeah, a lot of pressure. We just tried to do our best out there, but … it was hard to not think about anything.”
Irene Kim on the semifinal performance of Yuchan Chang and Lei Ye: “They had a lot of birdies. They were so amazing. Every second shot would be within 10 feet and they would make the putt.”
Leila Dizon on the experience of competing in the championship: “Ten out of 10. A hundred out of a 100. It was amazing. I learned so much. Truly unforgettable.”
Erica Shepherd on the side’s semifinal defeat: “We couldn’t get the birdie putts flowing like we have been. I just ran out of juice on sinking those long putts. [But] the team we played was really good.”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THEY DID IT!! @Katrinagrace9 and @ellesecor are bringing home the USGA Women’s Four-Ball Championship!!! Way to go ladies! #RamNation and @CSURams are proud of you!!! #CSURams #USWFourBall pic.twitter.com/x98xg3Uvzb— CSU Women's Golf (@CSUwomensgolf) May 3, 2018