By Stuart Hall
Bandon, Ore. -- Instead of a traditional celebratory handshake, Marissa Dodd and her father, Mark, have their own signature exultation.
Starting with the fist-bump, they have since added the explosion, taking their fists and opening them fast, like an explosion.
I’m a really fun, goofy person and everybody who caddies for me, we have different handshakes, Dodd said. For years [with my dad] it was the fist-bump, and we figured that’s not enough, so we added the explosion and it sort of became our thing. It helps keep things light.
Entering this week, Dodd, 17, of Allen, Texas, had only played match play one other time – last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior at The Country Club of North Carolina.
It was only for 12 holes, Dodd said. I played against a great girl (Mariko Tumangan) and she absolutely crushed me.
On Friday, Dodd was unfazed by her opponents. She defeated two-time Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup member Sally Watson, 20, of Scotland, 2 up, and then Tiffany Lua, 20, of Rowland Heights, Calif., and a veteran of 21 USGA championships, 2 and 1.
I have kind of learned to appreciate what they have done, but not take it completely into consideration, said Dodd, who will attend Wake Forest in the fall. I have beaten girls who are miles ahead of me in ability and experience and I have also been beaten by girls who you would never think.
I don’t feel like you're playing your opponent, I feel like you're playing the golf course and what it gives you that day and what your swing is doing that day.
This Bruin Going For Her Own National Title
In May, Brianna Do was the odd player out on UCLA’s NCAA Championship starting five line-up. That Bruin squad, which featured four players in this week’s WAPL, went on to win its third NCAA title.
It wasn't that far off [in terms of ability], Do said, but I knew going in I probably wasn’t going to make it. … Just seeing them win, it sucked that I wasn't there, but at the same time I know I am pushing them to get better.
Saturday may be her time to shine.
Going The Distance
During a week like this, eliminating opponents early in the match just means more rest. Including 36 holes of stroke play, Dodd has played 125 of 126 possible regulation holes. Dodd’s Saturday opponent, Do, has played 121. … Dodd has a 5-1 career USGA match-play record, while Do, who is playing in her seventh USGA amateur event, is 12-6. … Stephanie Kono, who like Lua has played in 21 USGA events, continues a frustrating run of close finishes. With a 1-up loss to UCLA teammate Do in the quarterfinals, Kono has now lost four times in the quarterfinals and twice in the semifinals, including the 2008 WAPL at Erin Hills
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose articles have previously appeared on USGA websites.