U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Round 2: Five Things to Know August 7, 2018 | Kingston Springs, Tenn. By David Shefter, USGA

Seven-time USGA champion Ellen Port, at 56 years of age, is in the hunt to make match play in the Women's Amateur. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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Players raved about the scoring conditions during the first round of stroke play in the 118th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship on Monday at The Golf Club of Tennessee. Receptive greens, zoysiagrass fairways that allow for the golf ball to sit up coupled with the warm temperatures allowed for 60 of the 156 players to shoot even par or better on the Tom Fazio layout.

The 72.96 stroke average for the field was nearly two shots above the par of 71, which is quite good for a USGA championship setup.

“The greens were softer than what I thought they would be, so they were holding well, which was helpful,” said Janet Mao, who shot 68, one of 20 golfers who were at 3 under or better.

Similar weather conditions are expected for the second and final round of stroke play on Tuesday, after which the field will be cut to the low 64 scorers for match play.

Here are five things to know going into Round 2:

Fight for No. 1

Alexa Pano, the 13-year-old Floridian who was the runner-up in the U.S. Girls’ Junior two weeks ago, has the momentum for medalist honors and the No. 1 seed after carding a 5-under 66 on Monday. Should Pano achieve the feat, she would likely be the youngest medalist in championship history. Yumi Matsubara, of Japan, was 14 when she was the medalist in 2013 at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina. Pano, however, has plenty of pursuers, including two-time Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup competitor Olivia Mehaffey, of Northern Ireland, and 2018 U.S. Women’s Open low amateur Patty Tavatanakit, of Thailand.

Cut Watching

Given the number of good scores on Monday, it appears the cut for the final match-play spots could be at 1 or 2 over par, meaning some notable players will be grinding to avoid making an early exit from the championship. That group includes Rachel Heck, of Memphis, Tenn., the No. 15 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™. Heck struggled to a first-round 74 on Monday. World No. 10 Jiwon Jeon, of the Republic of Korea, also shot a 74, while 2018 U.S. Girls’ Junior semifinalist Gina Kim and 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball co-champion Hailee Cooper each posted 1-over 72.

Other notables who will be battling to make the cut include two-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Julia Potter-Bobb (73), 2018 Ladies British Amateur runner-up Stephanie Lau (72), two-time GB&I Curtis Cup competitor Alice Hewson (72), 2016 USA Curtis Cup competitor and 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinalist Bethany Wu (74), four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi (76) and 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Erica Shepherd (76).

Port of Call

One of the feel-good stories of Round 1 was the play of 56-year-old Ellen Port, of St. Louis, Mo. The seven-time USGA champion, who is the oldest player in the field by one month over 2009 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Martha Leach, carded an even-par 71 and has a chance to become the oldest match-play qualifier since Anne Sander in 1994. Sander, a three-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and three-time runner-up, was a few weeks shy of her 57th birthday when she made the cut at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va. Seven-time USGA champion and 12-time Curtis Cup competitor Carol Semple Thompson was 53 when she made match play in the 2002 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Sleepy Hollow Country Club outside of New York City.

Port would be 22 days younger than Sander if she can qualify. Don’t put it past the two-time USA Curtis Cup competitor as she nearly made match play three years ago at Portland (Ore.) Golf Club. This is Port’s 60th USGA championship and 22nd U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Heat Is On

On Monday, temperatures reached into the low 90s with a Heat Index of 98, and the forecast likely won’t change on Tuesday. Many competitors are accustomed to playing under stifling conditions during the summer season. Amy Matsuoko competed in an event last week in the California desert where temperatures reached 120. Yealimi Noh, who won the U.S. Girls’ Junior two weeks ago under the cool and foggy conditions at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif., said the heat and humidity was worse last year at the Girls Junior PGA Championship at the Country Club of St. Albans in suburban St. Louis.

“Actually, compared to last year's Junior PGA, this is nothing,” said Noh.

40-Year Itch

Will this finally be the year that a mid-amateur (25 and older) ends the victory drought? Cathy Sherk, of Canada, won the 1978 U.S. Women’s Amateur at 28. Since then, the championship has been all about juniors and collegians. While the odds still remain long for a mid-amateur to hoist the Robert Cox Trophy at week’s end, a couple of the “working” community have a chance to continue into match play. Besides the ageless Port, 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief and 2000 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up Ina Kim-Schaad each posted 1-under 70s in Round 1.

As players in USGA amateur events so often say: Just get me to match play and I’ll take my chances.

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