Charlotte, N.C. – It’s a veritable invasion from the north at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. The Canadians are making their presence known.
Of the 13 Canadian players who made the trip to Charlotte Country Club, eight qualified for match play. The group includes five members of Team Canada’s national and developmental teams, Golf Canada’s program designed to aid in the development of the country’s best amateur golfers.
A year-round program, Team Canada provides the country’s top male and female amateurs, as well as their junior counterparts, with access to many opportunities that amateur players often struggle to obtain – and also an opportunity to travel with a group of friends.
It’s helped me tremendously over the last five years. It’s been great, said Stephanie Sherlock, a 6-and-4 first-round winner over 12-year-old Hannah O’Sullivan of Cupertino, Calif. They supply us with coaching. We travel together. We have training camps together in the wintertime. We get to work with sports psychologists, nutritionists, the whole deal. It’s really helped every aspect of my game.
Besides Sherlock, Sara-Maude Juneau, Jennifer Kirby and Nicole Vandermade parlayed their Team Canada national-squad experience into the second round of match play. A fifth player, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, a member of Team Canada’s development squad, led for the first 16 holes of her first-round match against 2010 NCAA Division I individual champion Caroline Hedwall of Sweden, but ultimately lost in 19 holes.
Juneau, Kirby, Lee-Bentham and Vandermade also made the trip to Oakmont Country Club earlier this summer for the U.S. Women’s Open. Though none made the cut, the experience was certainly enough to make the experience worthwhile.
It’s given me the opportunity to play in some really good golf tournaments that I would have probably not played in, said Sherlock. I’ve gotten to play in some World Ams, some British Ams, U.S. [Women’s] Ams, stuff like that. I’ve gotten a lot of experience thanks to them, so that’s going to help me in the future.
And with all the travel that goes along with championship-caliber golf, the players admit that it is nice to have friendly faces among their competitors.
It’s fun to have a lot of people, said Juneau. We go to dinner together. Obviously it makes it more fun.
Juneau’s Women’s Amateur roommate echoed her sentiments.
I think it’s more comfortable, said Kirby. When you’re playing a practice round, you can play with people that you know their game and they can help you. It’s easier to figure out the course.
Alexander Avoids Collapse, Wins In 19 Holes
Amira Alexander headed to the 14th hole with a daunting 4-up lead over Stacey Miller. Four holes later, the match was all square and both players were headed to the first tee. Not the best feeling for the high-school junior from Alpharetta, Ga.
I tried to slow down, but the heat got to me, said Alexander, who is playing in her first USGA championship. I was getting frustrated because I didn’t know if it was the heat or what. But I took some drinks and on the last hole, I pulled my shot. I think I was forcing it.
Alexander took a side trip to the restroom en route to the first tee and tried to calm her nerves. One hole later, she emerged victorious – and relieved.
I’m just going to go home, eat, try to go to sleep and try to calm down a little, said Alexander.
My first goal was to make the cut into match play, and I achieved that goal, she added. I’m just trying to continue on and take it one day at a time.
Odds And Ends
Of the three sister duos at the championship, only one is still standing at full strength. Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand both advanced to the second round of match play. Ariya was the medalist at the WAPL in June and reached the quarterfinals of the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior. Both Daniela and Isabelle Lendl lost in the first round of match play, while Erynne Lee’s younger sister, Katie, did not make it through stroke play. Erynne needed 19 holes to advance to the second round. … Doris Chen took her time between the U.S. Girls’ Junior and the Women’s Amateur to make a trip back to her home in Chinese Taipei. She spent a week visiting friends and only picked up her golf clubs for two hours during that span. The layoff didn’t affect her game. She shot rounds of 69-74 in stroke play and posted a 4-and-3 first-round win over Becca Huffer. … The heat continued at Charlotte C.C., with air temperatures reaching the upper 90s. The high humidity made it feel like triple digits, a feeling that Jaclyn Sweeney likened to the surface of the sun. … Tri-medalist Rachel Rohanna joined Hedwall’s Tuesday fashion statement of all black, despite the heat. I just like wearing black. … The average age of this week’s competitors was just under 20 years old, a fact underlined by the choice of television viewing in the women’s locker room – Nickelodeon.
Christina Lance is the USGA’s coordinator of championship communications. E-mail her with questions or comments at email@example.com.