OAKMONT, Pa. – There are 29 amateurs in the field at the U.S. Women’s Open. Here are five that you may not have heard of who could make a splash this week:
1. Ariya Jutanugarn, 14, Thailand: She’s the Thai version of Alexis Thompson. The 14-year-old was medalist at this year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, and finished 30th earlier this year at the Honda PTT LPGA Thailand, an event she first qualified for as an 11-year-old. She was runner-up earlier this year at the AJGA Rolex Girls Junior, one of the top junior events in the country. She’s scheduled to graduate high school in 2014.
2. Sandra Changkija, 21, Orlando, Fla.: Changkija is one of the best college players in the country, but don’t feel ashamed if you’ve never heard of her. Changkija has had success in relative anonymity at Division II Nova Southeastern. She’s been the NCAA Division II player of the year in each of her first three years at the Florida school. Changkija won seven college titles this year, including the NCAA Division II Championship.
3. Yueer Feng, 14, China: Feng has won two AJGA majors in each of the past two seasons, and is No. 5 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings. She’s playing her second consecutive U.S. Open; she missed the cut last year. She’s scheduled to graduate high school in 2014.
4. Alison Lee, 15, Valencia, Calif.: Lee tied for 26th at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open, so she could really make a splash this year. Lee, No. 3 in the Golfweek Junior Rankings, was a first-team AJGA All-American in 2008 and ’09, and has won two AJGA titles this year. She first qualified for the U.S. Girls’ Junior in 2007 at the age of 12. She’s scheduled to graduate high school in 2013.
5. Jennifer Kirby, 19, Canada: Kirby is the top-ranked amateur woman in Canada, and last year became the first player to win both the Canadian Amateur and Canadian Junior in the same season. Kirby recently completed her freshman season at Alabama by finishing seventh at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship. She reached the quarterfinals of this year’s British Amateur. She was a third-team Golfweek All-American this year, finishing 22nd in the rankings.