Athena Yang and Kendall Griffin returned a two-day score of 66-67–133 to become the first stroke-play medalists of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, held on the par-72 Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. The teens posted six birdies and one bogey on Sunday to finish one stroke ahead of Robynn Ree and Hannah O’Sullivan, who shared the top spot on the leader board with Yang and Griffin following yesterday’s first round.
Yang, 17, of Winter Haven, Fla., and Griffin, 16, of Sebring, Fla., went to the par-5 18th hole with a one-stroke lead and secured their spot in the history books when Yang made par. This is the first time either player has competed in a USGA championship.
“It feels amazing to make history as the first medalists,” said Griffin. “Coming into the first day, we just wanted to make the cut – that was our first goal. Now we’re just thinking about taking one fairway at a time.”
With a 12:24 p.m. tee time on Sunday, Yang expected typical windy afternoon conditions at Pacific Dunes, but was pleasantly surprised by more subdued weather.
“It felt a little bit like Florida,” said Yang, who will attend Mississippi State University in 2016. “Well, Florida in the winter.”
Returning a bogey-free, four-birdie card to finish at 66-68–134, Ree, 18, of Redondo Beach, Calif., and O’Sullivan, 16, of Chandler, Ariz., were excited to meet their short-term goal by reaching match play.
“It’s never good to get ahead of yourself, so we’ve been taking one shot at a time and hopefully it will take us pretty far,” said Ree, who will be a freshman at the University of Southern California this fall.
O’Sullivan, who in February became the first amateur to win a Symetra Tour event since 1999 and the youngest since 1995, also noted the calmer weather.
“Thankfully the wind was down the whole day, making the conditions a little different,” said O’Sullivan, who will join Ree at USC in 2016. “I think the greens were a little softer, a little slower, so we got acclimated to that and had a lot of fun. We’re really enjoying being here and are looking forward to the next few days.”
Two sides tied for third at 9-under 135. Like Ree and O’Sullivan, Kathleen Scavo, 17, of Benicia, Calif., and Lucy Li, 12, of Redwood City, Calif., produced a clean card that included four birdies.
“We didn’t play as well as we did yesterday,” said Li, the youngest player in the field. “But, no bogeys, so that was good.”
Scavo, who will enroll this fall at the University of Oregon in Eugene, added: “Distance control has been important and our caddies have helped. Now we need to stay aggressive through match play.”
Joining Scavo and Li at 135 are Pennsylvanians Madelein Herr, of New Hope, and Brynn Walker, of St. Davids. Herr had the hot hand of the day, converting six of the side’s seven birdies.
“We’re just trying to have fun and enjoy Bandon Dunes, which is such a great place to play,” said Herr, 17. Both are high school juniors, with Herr having verbally committed to Penn State University and the 16-year-old Walker to the University of North Carolina.
Two sides returned the day’s low score of 66. Marni Murez and Ashley Kim had a 10-stroke swing from one day to the next after Saturday’s 76 to tie for 19th. Alyaa Abdulghany and Ellen Takada followed up a first-round 72, and are tied for seventh.
The stroke-play cut came at 2-over 146, creating a three-for-two playoff to determine the final match-play qualifiers. Lynn Thompson sank a 30-foot putt for a birdie 3 at No. 8 to advance with her partner Janie Klare. Carol Robertson stuck her approach at the par-4 ninth to 5 feet and converted the birdie putt to earn the final playoff spot with her partner Corrie Myers, eliminating Dani Mullin and Ellen Oswald.
Notables to miss the cut include Mary Jane Hiestand, who hit the first ball of the championship, and her partner Tara Joy-Connelly, a 2014 U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist (5-over 149); 2009 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Martha Leach and her daughter Madison Gerstle (151); and Marie Bos, who on Saturday converted the championship’s first hole-in-one, and her partner Courtney Tincher (152).
The 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by five rounds of match play. The championship is scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final Wednesday, May 13, which will air live on Fox Sports 1.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Vanessa Zink is the assistant manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.