It would be hard to find two venues more different than Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and Tulsa Country Club. Yet Mika Liu is doing everything she can to duplicate her Bandon Dunes experience this week. Or more importantly, the result.
Liu, who won the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship on the Pacific Dunes course at Bandon Dunes with partner Rinko Mitsunaga in May, has the same caddie, Gerard Percy, on her bag this week. The 16-year-old from Beverly Hills, Calif., is also trying to keep her practice routine and strategy similar.
“During Four-Ball, I was really relaxed because my game was in good shape and I just trusted it once I got out on the course,” she said. “I’ve had some practice so now like I’m getting this course into my system, and I can go out there and trust my game again.”
Still, the differences in course architecture – not to mention climate – are stark. Bandon Dunes is perched on the scenic Oregon coast and is a true links test, with wide, firm fairways, fescue rough and the ever-present wind.
Tulsa is a compact, tree-lined and charming course designed by A.W. Tillinghast in the early 1920s and redesigned most recently in 2008 by Rees Jones, coinciding with the club’s centennial. It is situated right in the city, with views of the Tulsa skyline from many holes and a welcoming hilltop clubhouse.
Then there’s the little matter of the difference in climate. The temperatures in Tulsa this week are forecast to be in the 90s to low 100s, quite a bit different from the cool and crisp weather during the Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. Still, Liu likes what she sees.
“This course requires good driving and then some precise putting,” she said. “The yardages are reasonable; you have some par 4s that are pretty short and some others that require a hybrid. The greens are big and they’re not hugely undulating but they have a lot of smaller breaks, so they’re difficult to read.”
While Liu is one of three USGA champions in the U.S. Girls’ Junior field, she is the only player who has hoisted a USGA trophy in 2015. She comes into the championship ranked No. 53 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ and with her game in good form after a win at the American Junior Golf Association’s Thunderbird Invitational in Scottsdale, Ariz., and second-place finishes at the Women’s Eastern Amateur and the AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions. This is her fifth U.S. Girls’ Junior, so she has the experience. Still, she is not one to call herself a favorite.
“I’m pretty humble about that,” she said. “Because I think everyone here has a chance and it’s who handles the course and the heat the best. This is the dream tournament for everyone in the field.”
Liu has already realized the dream of becoming a USGA champion. Now, she hopes to recapture the feeling and translate her game plan from the rugged west coast to the sultry heartland.