As the golf world prepares for the Women’s Amateur next week at Old Warson Country Club in St. Louis, Mo., many will assume there will be a teen who makes a run at the championship title. Last year, that was Erynne Lee.
Lee was told by her mom at last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur, “ ‘Invite the crowd and the media cause I can’t make them go away,’ ” Lee said.
Lee exhilarated the crowds at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club throughout U.S. Women’s Amateur week, in large part because she was a 15-year-old taking on some of the best that women’s amateur golf has to offer.
The highlight – and perhaps lowlight – of Lee’s week came in the semifinals when she took on juggernaut Amanda Blumenherst. Blumenherst went on to top Lee, 3 and 2, but not before Lee left an indelible impression on the huge crowds that watched their match.
At one point on the 10th hole, Blumenherst had sank a 40-foot bomb for birdie only to be matched by Lee with a 35-footer of her own. The crowds went berserk.
Because Lee learned to relish the spotlight, she was able to thrive on the pressure that came along with playing such big matches. She also picked up an affinity for match play.
“It’s fun,” she said at the U.S. Girls’ Junior a few weeks earlier. “You either win a hole or lose a hole, and it’s not by strokes.”
Though she lost in the round of 32 to Doris Chen, 3 and 1, at the U.S. Girls’, Lee will bring that same enthusiasm into this year’s Women’s Am. After struggling in the early part of the summer, Lee will head to St. Louis with a renewed sense of confidence.
“I’ve been playing really well,” said Lee, who also credited a better workout regimen to her improvement. “I’m playing my optimum game.”
Combined with that confidence, the invaluable experience Lee gained going deep in last year’s Women’s Am will give her an edge on an elite field.
“Don’t give up hope,” said Lee when asked what she learned last year. “I didn’t play match play a lot so it was a little bit of a disadvantage.”
Still just a 16-year-old, Lee now considers herself a match-play veteran.
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Ray McCarthy spent a few minutes with Lee and picked her brain about some golf-related topics and some not-so-golf-related topics.
1. What is the best tip you’ve ever received?
“Keep your head up and don’t let your hopes go down.”
2. Who is the best player you’ve ever played with?
Victoria Tanco (No. 2 in Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings). “She has a good poker face and doesn’t get upset on the course.”
3. What is your favorite course?
Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash. (Site of 2015 U.S. Open)
4. What is your dream foursome?
Tiger Woods, Brad Pitt, Charles Barkley
5. What’s your favorite thing to do besides golf?
Listen to classical music. Play ping pong.
6. If you could switch places with someone for a week, who would it be?
7. What’s the best shot you’ve ever hit?
U.S. Women’s Amateur; 35-footer for birdie against Blumenherst. (see above)
8. If you could take one skill from any tour player, who would it be?
Jim Furyk’s short game.
9. What’s the best part of your game? The worst?
Woods and driver (“I’m 100 percent confident in those.”). Chipping is the worst.
10. What’s your most embarassing golf moment?
“A couple years ago I was hitting out of a hazard on my tip-toes and fell in the water. My whole back was wet.”