U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
2014 Champ Gillman, Medalists Li, Selin Reach Round of 32
August 7, 2018 | Kingston Springs, Tenn.
By David Shefter, USGA
Each day when Kristen Gillman arrives at The Golf Club of Tennessee, she is reminded of what she accomplished four years ago in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y. The 20-year-old from Austin, Texas, is among several past champions who are prominently displayed along the driveway into the club’s entrance.
“It's definitely kind of weird because … I still can't believe that I actually won this tournament,” said Gillman. “It's kind of weird driving up and seeing it, but it's also really cool at the same time.”
So far this week, seeing her smiling face with the Robert Cox Trophy has brought good vibes. Gillman, coming off an All-America sophomore season at the University of Alabama and a 5-0-0 performance in the USA’s 17-3 victory in the Curtis Cup Match in June, produced a 3-and-2 victory over Ting Hsuan Huang, 13, of Chinese Taipei, in the Round of 64 on Wednesday.
Gillman, who also won a professional event in Japan last month and tied for 27th in the U.S. Women’s Open in June, fell behind early before winning three consecutive holes from No. 5. She converted a 6-foot birdie putt on the par-5 fifth, then won the next two holes with pars for a 2-up advantage. A winning par on the 14th and a birdie on the par-3 16th clinched the match against the youngest competitor in the match-play draw.
“It's definitely been a good summer,” said Gillman, who also went 3-1 in the Palmer Cup to help the USA to victory in France. “I think it's just given me some confidence coming into this week. It's been a long summer, but I've enjoyed every second of it.”
Co-medalists Lucy Li, 15, of Redwood Shores, Calif., and Hyun Selin, 17, of the Republic of Korea, also advanced with easy victories.
Li won three consecutive holes from No. 9 to pull away from No. 64 seed Adeena Shears, 20, of Elizabeth, W.Va., 5 and 3. Sears, who survived a 9-for-1, four-hole playoff on Wednesday morning to secure the last spot in the draw, found the water hazard on No. 9, and Li, a member of the victorious 2018 USA Curtis Cup Team, followed by converting a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 10th. Li won the 11th hole with a birdie on the par 5.
Selin, the runner-up in the Ladies Thailand Open earlier this year, won Nos. 5-7 with birdies en route to a 4-and-3 win over Gabriella Tomanka, 16, of Grapevine, Texas.
Incoming Harvard University freshman Elizabeth Wang, 18, of San Marino, Calif., who tied for 34th in the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open, holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 19th hole to eliminate 2018 NCAA individual champion Jennifer Kupcho, 21, of Westminster, Colo. Kupcho, a member of the victorious 2018 USA Curtis Cup Team, had just regained the No. 1 spot in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ on Wednesday from Lilia Vu, who failed to qualify for match play this week.
Match play continues with the Rounds of 32 and 16 on Thursday, beginning at 7 a.m. CDT. Competitors need to win six matches to claim the title, including Sunday’s 36-hole championship match. FS1 continues its live broadcasts on Thursday from 4-7 p.m. EDT, and live streaming of the Round-of-32 matches will be on usga.org from Noon-2 p.m. EDT on Thursday.
- In a rematch from last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, Isabella Fierro, 17, of Mexico turned the tide on Alexa Pano, 13, of Lake Worth, Fla., with a 3-and-1 victory. Pano beat Fierro in the Round of 32, 4 and 3, en route to a runner-up finish.
- Five Round-of-64 matches went to extra holes and all of them ended on the 19th hole.
- Yoonhee Kim, who was one of the eight players eliminated in Wednesday morning’s 9-for-1 playoff for the final match-play spot, was on the course later in the afternoon to caddie for good friend Yealimi Noh. Kim, a junior at the University of California-Davis, caddied for Noh in her run to last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior title at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Noh advanced with a 1-up win over Allisen Corpuz.
- Ashley Gilliam, the last remaining Tennessee resident in the championship, lost to 2016 semifinalist Yuka Saso, of the Philippines, 4 and 3. Tennessee native Kaylee Benton, of Litchfield Park, Ariz., did advance, 4 and 2, over Caroline Curtis. Benton was born in Jackson, Tenn.
- Lauren Stephenson, 21, of Lexington, S.C., joined fellow 2018 USA Curtis Cup competitors Lucy Li and Kristen Gillman in the Round of 32 with a 1-up win over Stephanie Bunque.
- The two remaining 2018 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup players each advanced; third-seeded Olivia Mehaffey, 6 and 5 over Hannah Facchini; and 15-year-old Annabell Fuller, 2 and 1 over 2016 USA Curtis Cup competitor Mika Liu.
- Lauren Greenlief, 27, of Ashburn, Va., kept alive the hopes for the first title by a mid-amateur (25 and older) in 40 years with a 3-and-2 win over 14-year-old lefty Thienna Hyunh.
- 56-year-old Ellen Port, of St. Louis, Mo., saw her run end with a 4-and-3 loss to Dylan Kim. Port is believed to be the second-oldest player to qualify for match play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
- Play was delayed for 94 minutes, beginning at 9:41 a.m., due to thunderstorms.
Co-medalist Lucy Li, 15, of Redwood Shores, Calif., on playing just 15 holes in her Round-of-64 victory:
“It’s match play, and anything can happen. I’ve had matches where I’ve been 5 up, 4 up and gone all the way to the last hole, so it’s definitely really important to push down the pedal and try to get it done. I feel like I’ve been playing really solid the whole week, and I’ve just got to keep that going.”
2016 USA Curtis Cup competitor Bailey Tardy, 22, of Peachtree Corners, Ga., on overcoming an early 3-down deficit to defeat Kailie Vongsaga, 2 and 1:
“I feel like every year, I go down like three. I think I did [this in 2015 in the Round of 64 against Dylan Kim] and I came back and won, 1 up. Match play, you can never give up on yourself. It doesn’t matter how much you go down or how much you’re up. You just have to act like it’s always all square or you’re always trying to win another hole. You can never breathe easy in match play. It’s what I’ve learned from the past and I kind of took that advice and ran with it.”
Jaclyn Lee, 21, of Canada, on getting into the field as a last-minute alternate, making match play and rallying from 2 down with four to play to win her Round-of-64 match over Kylie Raines:
“I believed that I belonged in this field. To qualify into this tournament, though, it’s so difficult. I’m lucky that I’m able to be here, but I feel comfortable here for sure.”
Elizabeth Wang, 18, of San Marino, Calif., on eliminating world No. 1 Jennifer Kupcho:
“Jennifer is an amazing player, and actually we knew each other because I used to live in Colorado, so we always played junior tournaments together. It was great to be able to play with a friend, especially since we only see each other once a year now for amateur tournaments. My dad, I think, was really helpful [as a caddie] because sometimes I would hit a really bad shot, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, what am I thinking, what am I going to do now?’ Dad is like, ‘Oh, don’t worry, calm down, just play your own game and you’ll be fine.’”
2015 runner-up Sierra Brooks, 20, of Lake Mary, Fla., on her late rally to beat Hailee Cooper, 2 and 1:
“It started on No. 14, the par 3. I stuck one to like 5 feet and made that for birdie and finally got some momentum, and from there was able to finish it off and just keep it going. I hit a lot of good shots coming in.”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Social Scene
Janet Mao wins two of first three holes on way to a 2&1 win in #USWomensAm Round-of-64.— Northwestern Golf (@NUGolf_Live) August 8, 2018
Steph Lau’s match is just getting underway at The Golf Club of Tennessee.
I cannot believe how nerve-wracking this is. Whew. On to the next round! #USWomensAmateur— Bing Pagdanganan (@bingpagda) August 9, 2018