U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Greenlief Takes Unexpected Path into Women’s Am at Woodmont
July 10, 2020 | Liberty Corner, N.J.
By Ron Driscoll, USGA
One of the first thoughts that crossed Lauren Greenlief’s mind after her semifinal loss in the 2019 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship concerned the 2020 USGA championship schedule.
“I was really bummed out, because I knew I would have been exempt into the Women’s Amateur if I made the final,” said Greenlief of her loss to Talia Campbell last September on the 18th hole at Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Turns out, the 29-year-old from Ashburn, Va., and 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion will be in the field after all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world – along with the golf calendar – upside down in 2020. On May 18, the USGA canceled qualifying for the four championships it plans to conduct this year, including the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur, scheduled for Aug. 3-9 at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md. On June 17, exemption categories for the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Amateur were announced, and as a 2019 Women’s Mid-Am semifinalist, Greenlief earned a spot in the 132-player U.S. Women’s Amateur field.
The difference-maker for Greenlief ended up being her quarterfinal victory last Sept. 18 over Andrea Kosa of Canada, in which she rallied from a 4-down deficit, sending the match to extra holes by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt (see video below) on No. 18 and completing her rally in 21 holes.
Greenlief will be joined at Woodmont by fellow 2019 semifinalists Campbell, Meghan Stasi (a four-time Women’s Mid-Am champion) and Ina Kim-Schaad, who defeated Stasi in the semifinals and Campbell in the final to earn her first USGA title. Additional exemptions into the Women’s Amateur went to recent Women’s Mid-Am champions Julia Potter-Bobb (who won her second title in 2016), Kelsey Chugg (2017) and Shannon Johnson (2018).
“I have really cherished all the opportunities I’ve had to play in the Women’s Am,” said Greenlief, a 2012 University of Virginia graduate who works as a management consultant. “But I’ve had this year’s Am on my calendar for a few years, since I live less than 40 minutes away from Woodmont and I’ve played the course a number of times. It’s pretty rare to have such an opportunity.”
This will be Greenlief’s eighth start in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, with her best finish being a run to the quarterfinals in 2018 at The Golf Club of Tennessee, where she became the first mid-amateur to advance that far in 12 years.
First she will head to the Women’s North & South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst, which begins on July 12 and features 36 holes of qualifying and a 32-player match-play bracket.
“I’m glad to be getting back to competition,” said Greenlief, a five-time women’s golfer of the year in Virginia. “I’ve been working remotely from home for four months now, and with everything getting canceled or in flux, it was really nice to put a national championship on the schedule and know it was going to be played.”
At the Women’s North & South, Greenlief has a practice round scheduled on Saturday with Stasi and Kim-Schaad, all of whom have Women’s Amateur preparation in their sights as well.
“I think it plays to my strengths,” said Greenlief of Woodmont, which has hosted U.S. Women’s Open qualifying several times along with its perennial role as a U.S. Open final qualifying site (32 times). “It’s a course that rewards good ball-strikers who hit a lot of greens, which I feel is a strength of my game. It will be nice to go into the practice rounds knowing what to expect of the golf course.”
With 2020 being a year unlike any other in recent memory, it’s good to have expectations, period.
Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.