BARRINGTON, R.I. – Watching Stephanie Kono play golf could induce sleep. Not because of her pace of play but because of the smooth, metronome-like tempo of her swing. It matches the speed at which the soft-spoken Kono seems to function in the rest of her life.
The UCLA senior knocked off co-medalist Lydia Ko in the Round of 32 on Thursday at Rhode Island Country Club. Kono, a veteran on the U.S. Golf Association tournament circuit, is playing in her 21st championship but she has yet to win a title. She admits to feeling old by that stat, and it doesn’t help when paired against a 14-year-old such as Ko. In fact, the days when Kono, 21, was in Ko’s shoes are so far gone that she hardly can remember them.
Moriya Jutanugarn prepares to hit her tee shot at No. 17 during the Round of 32. She defeated Amy Anderson to advance.
Stephanie Kono hits a bunker shot at No. 13 during the Round of 32. Kono advances after defeating Lydia Ko.
Cindy Ha with her caddie during the Round of 32. Ha defeated Jaye Marie Green to advance.
Amy Anderson reacts to missing her putt at No. 18 losing to Moriya Jutanugarn during the Round of 32.
Annie Park hits her tee shot at No. 15 during the Round of 32.
Lydia Ko congratulates Stephanie Kono after Kono won 3 & 2, during the Round of 32.
Amy Anderson during the Round of 32 at the U. S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
Annie Park and her caddie/mother, Young Park, during the Round of 16. Park lost to Erynne Lee.
Stephanie Kono during the Round of 16 at the U. S. Women’s Amateur Championship. She defeated her teammate Tiffany Lua.
Ariya Jutanugarn acted as caddie for her sister Moriya Jutanugarn during the Round of 16 at the U. S. Women’s Amateur Championship. Ariya lost to Lindy Duncan but helped her sister defeat Victoria Tanco.
Danielle Kang during the Round of 16. Kang defeated Ha to make the Quarterfinals.
Erynne Lee pumps her fist as she defeated Annie Park during the Round of 16.
Tiffany Lua during the Round of 16. Lua lost to her UCLA teammate Stephanie Kono.
Brooke Pancake during the Round of 16. Pancake defeated Nicole Morales.
Moriya Jutanugarn, right, and her sister, Ariya, acting as caddie during the Round of 16. Moriya will play Casey Danielson in the Quarterfinals.
“At 14, I played in my third U.S. Girls’. Honestly, I think I lost to Inbee Park in the second round, and I remember being intimidated, being out there with a lot of really good players,” Kono said.
Perhaps Kono one day will be remembered in a Ko interview in the category of greats to whom she fell along the way.
Kono advanced through the first round of match play by what might be considered a gift. She beat Madeleine Sheils in 19 holes after not holding the lead until the extra hole. She shakes her head at the close call, but maybe it’s the match-play equivalent to a member’s bounce.
The leaderboard for the 111th U. S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
A view of Hole No. 16, a par-4 at Rhode Island Country Club.
Players push carts are silhouetted along the green at hole No. 17.
The leaderboard can be seen from the parking lot at the clubhouse.
Lydia Ko of New Zealand talks with the media after taking the clubhouse lead after Tuesday’s play.
A bridge at Hole No. 6 at Rhode Island Country Club.
A player hits out of a bunker at No. 18.
The Rhode Island Country Club is host to the 2011 U. S. Women’s Amateur.
Austin Ernst hits her tee shot at No. 18 during her Round of 64.
The angle of the camera.
Moriya Jutanugarn and her mom/caddie at No. 15 with the Narragansett Bay in the background.
A lone spectator takes a break near the 11th hole.
USGA photographer, Steve Gibbons at the U. S. Women’s Amateur.
The scoreboard after the 2011 U. S. Women’s Amateur.
It’s clearly a Bruin’s world here at Rhode Island Country Club. And for now, the rest of the field is just living in it. Three members of the NCAA Championship-winning team advanced to match play, as did incoming freshman Erynne Lee. Entering the Round of 16, all four are still alive, but that’s bound to change before the quarterfinals, as Kono and junior teammate Tiffany Lua will meet.
Kono and Lua have met twice before in USGA match play, both times at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. Kono leads the series, 2-0, but already this summer Kono lost to another teammate, Brianna Do, in the WAPL quarterfinals.
“I play with (Lua) every day, and I know she doesn’t miss too many shots,” Kono said of the third-round match.
Lua, who felt equally ancient during her second-round match against Mackenzie Brooke Henderson, a 13-year-old from Canada, laughed off her age
“I don’t think I had a mindset,” Lua said, laughing. “Find ball, hit ball.”
Expect plenty of “smack talk,” as Lua calls it, during the Bruins matchup, though none of it serious.