U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
3 Things to Know, Match Play, 121st U.S. Women’s Amateur
August 4, 2021 | Rye, N.Y.
By David Shefter, USGA
For the last two days, Westchester Country Club’s West Course has challenged some of the world’s best amateur golfers. Following 36 holes of stroke play over the Walter Travis design, a 12-for-2 playoff late Tuesday determined the final spots in the match-play draw, with Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler making it through. The starting field of 156 is now 64.
Over the next five days, that number will continue to be whittled down until one player is left standing following Sunday’s 36-hole final. For those who can’t make it out to Westchester Country Club, Golf Channel and Peacock will provide daily coverage from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT.
Match play is a grueling test of skill, wit and perseverance. Each round brings a new set of drama and intrigue as golfers battle head-to-head for the right to have their name join the legendary champions inscribed on the Robert Cox Trophy.
So as the Round of 64 commences, here are 3 Things to Know:
While the goal this week is to hoist the Robert Cox Trophy, there is another competition within the competition. The champion, if American, will automatically earn a spot on the USA Curtis Cup Team, which will look to retain the Cup later this month at Conwy Golf Club in Wales. Three players – world No. 1 and defending Women’s Amateur champion Rose Zhang, world No. 2 and 2021 NCAA champion Rachel Heck and recent University of Southern California graduate Allisen Corpuz – have already been named to the eight-woman side based off the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking®/WAGR®. Zhang and Heck advanced to match play, while Corpuz is not in the field this week.
That leaves five remaining spots. Several American hopefuls advanced to match play, including Emilia Migliaccio (No. 16), Rachel Kuehn (No. 23), Brooke Matthews (No. 37), Kennedy Swann (No. 57), Erica Shepherd (No. 59) and Aneka Seumanutafa (No. 61).
But it also leaves open the possibility for someone not on the radar to make a run to the title and earn their way onto the elite team. Four years ago, Sophia Schubert did just that, winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur at San Diego Country Club and then helping the USA to a 17-3 victory at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., the following June.
It’s been 25 years since a player won both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and The Women’s Amateur conducted by The R&A. Aline Krauter, of Germany and Stanford University, who won The Women’s Amateur in 2020 and competed in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, has a chance to become the 12th player – and first since Kelli Kuehne in 1996 – to hold both prestigious titles.
There was a time when many American players traveled to the United Kingdom to play in a championship that dates to 1893. Some legendary players are among the 11 champions of both competitions, including Louise Suggs, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Marlene Stewart Streit, Anne Sander, Barbara McIntire, Catherine Lacoste and Carol Semple Thompson. Lacoste is the only amateur to have won the U.S. Women’s Open.
Krauter, who became the second German champion of The Women’s Amateur, defeated 2018 GB&I Curtis Cup competitor Annabell Fuller, of England, 1 up, in the championship match last year at West Lancashire Golf Club. She is the only player in the field at Westchester with the chance for this rare double, as 2021 Women’s Amateur champion Louise Duncan did not travel to the U.S. to compete.
Just A Number
Each March when the brackets are released for the NCAA basketball tournaments, plenty of chatter ensues about where teams were seeded. There are major differences between the 1 and 16, or 2 and 15 seeds in each region. While upsets always happen, higher-seeded teams generally have a much better chance of advancing deep into the event.
That’s not the case for USGA match-play events, and especially the U.S. Women’s Amateur, where the margins between the top qualifiers and those who barely get into the draw are razor-thin.
Since 2010, only three single-digit seeds have won the championship: Lydia Ko (2) in 2012, Emma Talley (3) in 2013 and Gabriela Ruffels (6) in 2019. No medalist has won the championship since Amanda Blumenherst in 2008 at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.
Last year, Zhang was the No. 16 seed, and Kristen Gillman was Nos. 39 and 24 when she won in 2014 and 2018, respectively. Schubert was the 43rd seed, Hannah O’Sullivan (2015) was No. 32, and Danielle Kang was 12 and 29 in 2010 and 2011.
The bottom line: a player’s seed is just a number, and the goal starting Wednesday is to survive and advance.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.