DALY CITY, Calif. – When Ashlan Ramsey 40-foot birdie putt hopped over the hole at No. 18, crowds near the clubhouse noticed. They noticed, too, when Amy Lee hung her 25-footer for birdie on the lip minutes later.
Still all square, the second-round match in the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced Golf Club returned to the first tee, where Ramsey and Lee tied again. When Lee encountered tree trouble at the par-4 second hole, Ramsey swooped in with birdie to advance to the Round of 16. Fans noticed, and not just because the morning had been a stellar display of golf from both sides.
The Fighting Ramseys can be spotted from three fairways away. Ashlan, 16, and older sister and caddie Taylor, 17, have shown up each day in a different pair of Loudmouth pants, which Ashlan is glad to be able to break out in the San Francisco chill that envelopes Lake Merced. They don’t get much use in the summer back home in Milledgeville, Ga.
“I just got some more, actually, like two days ago,” she said. “These are the really new kind.”
It’s something that sets her apart from many of the other players still alive after two rounds of match play, but Ramsey has the game to back it up. This tournament is the first she has played since finishing runner-up to Kyung Kim at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links last month. Ramsey is one of only three U.S. Golf Association runners-up who entered the field this week.
“I feel more confident about my game,” Ramsey said. “That week, I was striping the ball.”
On Thursday, Ramsey stayed close to Lee through the front nine before Lee built a 2-up lead. Slowly, Ramsey chipped away at her deficit. She knocked in a 15-footer for birdie at No. 16 to return to all square, then stuffed her approach at the 17th. She and Lee halved.
The gravity-defying birdie putt came at No. 18.
“I just have to stay positive when things don’t go my way,” she said of that shot, which, had it dropped, would have ended the match.
Sister Taylor helps with that cause. She has been Ashlan’s right hand through four rounds of play at Lake Merced.
“She helps me with my swing thoughts; she helps me be positive and confident,” Ashlan said. “She’s my everything.”
As for Lee, there will be other days. The loss was easier to bear because both left everything on the course.
“We fought pretty hard,” Lee said. “She was clutching and I was clutching.”
Lee, 15, has played only one other USGA event, the 2011 Girls’ Junior. She lost to eventual champion Ariya Jutanugarn that year in the semifinals. Lee may be a relative unknown, but after this week, plus a victory last month at the AJGA ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior, she is making a name for herself. Lee, of Brea, Calif., is a West Coast gal and wants it to stay that way. She will be able to receive recruiting emails on Sept. 1, though favorites remain UCLA and USC.
Thursday’s round indicates Lee’s inbox could get pretty full.