U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Round of 64: Five Matches to Watch
August 8, 2018 | Kingston Springs, Tenn.
By David Shefter, USGA
The preliminary stage – better known as stroke play – is now complete in the 118th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of Tennessee. Now we’re set for the knockout portion of the competition. It’s mano y mano for the next five days to find out who will be hoisting the Robert Cox Trophy.
So as the Round of 64 is set to commence on Wednesday, here are five matchups to watch (all times CDT):
Patty Tavatanakit vs. Chia-Yen Wu, 11 a.m.
Anyone who watched last year’s championship will remember the diminutive 13-year-old from Chinese Taipei (Wu) who reached the Semifinals with a historic 30-hole victory over Lauren Stephenson, the longest 18-hole match in USGA history. Now 14 and fresh off reaching the Round of 16 in last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior, Wu faces one of the country’s top collegians in UCLA sophomore Tavatanakit. The 18-year-old from Thailand tied for fifth in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek, earning low-amateur honors. Two years ago, Tavatanakit reached the Round of 16 in both the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Jennifer Kupcho vs. Elizabeth Wang, 11:20 a.m.
Kupcho, 21, of Westminster, Colo., is the reigning NCAA champion and current No. 2 player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™. The Wake Forest University senior already is one of the USA’s three selections for the upcoming Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in the Republic of Ireland, and earlier this summer she helped the USA reclaim the Curtis Cup at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., and retain the Palmer Cup in France last month. Kupcho also made the cut in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open. Wang, 18, also has Colorado roots as she was born in Denver before the family moved to San Marino, Calif., a Los Angeles suburb in the San Gabriel Valley. The incoming Harvard University freshman is coming off a tie for 34th in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open and a Round-of-32 showing in the U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Annabell Fuller vs. Mika Liu, 1:20 p.m.
Perhaps the USGA can trot out the Curtis Cup for this matchup. Both players, however, were on losing sides of the biennial Match. England teen Fuller, who was Great Britain and Ireland’s youngest competitor this past June at 15, saw her side fall, 17-3, to the USA at Quaker Ridge, while Liu, 19, of Beverly Hills, Calif., and a Stanford University sophomore, was on the short end of a three-point defeat two years ago in Ireland. In 2015, Liu and partner Rinko Mitsunaga won the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball title at Bandon Dunes.
Bianca Pangdanganan vs. Albane Valenzuela, 1:50 p.m.
Few players in the field have as much international experience as Valenzuela, 20, of Switzerland. The Stanford University junior and 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up was one of three amateurs to compete in golf’s return to the Summer Olympics in 2016 as well as represent her country in the biennial Women’s World Amateur Team Championship (2016 and 2018). She also made two cuts in the U.S. Women’s Open (2016 and 2018) as well as the Evian Championship and ANA Inspiration, both women’s professional majors. Pangdanganan, 21, of the Philippines, might be competing in her first U.S. Women’s Amateur, but in May she holed a clutch 30-foot eagle putt on the 72nd hole to propel the University of Arizona into a playoff for the final match-play spot in the NCAA Championships. She then helped the Wildcats win three matches to secure their third national title.
Dylan Kim vs. Ellen Port, 2:30 p.m.
This should be an interesting encounter for the 56-year-old Port, who is believed to be the second-oldest player to make match play in U.S. Women’s Amateur history. The St. Louis, Mo., resident’s daughter, Katie, will be a sophomore at the University of Arkansas, which coincidentally is the school where Kim was an All-American last season. Kim, 21, of Sachse, Texas, a three-time U.S. Women’s Open qualifier, transferred to the Fayetteville campus from Baylor for the 2017-18 season. The senior had season-ending hip surgery in October 2015 to remove a benign tumor and returned after a redshirt season to win the 2017 Big 12 Conference individual title. Port, meanwhile, is a seven-time USGA champion, which ties her for the second most all time by a female behind JoAnne Gunderson Carner (eight).
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.