OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -– Casie Cathrea’s lapse on Olympia Fields’ 15th green cost her team a hole in its four-ball match at the Junior Ryder Cup. It also set up a dramatic comeback that was one of the United States’ highlights on a successful Monday.
Cathrea had 3 feet remaining for par on the 15th hole when she picked up her ball marker, thinking her teammate, Cameron Champ, was in the hole with par. He’d made bogey, and so the team lost the hole to fall to all square with Europe’s Toby Tree and Bronte Law.
Cathrea quickly made up for her mistake. She hit her 71-yard approach on No. 17 to 6 feet, then made the big-breaking, left-to-right putt to win the hole and regain the lead. Both Americans drove in the right trees on the 17th; Champ punched out right of the green and was left with a difficult chip shot that he had to hit 20 feet right of the hole in order to keep the ball on the green. He sank that putt to halve the hole.
“That putt was big, because if I’d missed that, anything could happen,” Champ said. There was more drama on 18, and it once again was Champ that came up clutch.
He was in the trees again on the 18th, this time left of the fairway. He hit a low, hooking 4-iron from 244 yards on No. 18, then two-putted for birdie to halve the hole with the Europeans and give the U.S. a 1-up victory. Cathrea also reached the 18th green in two shots.
“We started off hot,” said Champ, who recently made a verbal commitment to Texas A&M. His team birdied five of its first seven holes, “and we ended with a bang.”
It was the second time Monday that Champ holed a key birdie putt to halve the 18th. He sank a 7-footer in the morning foursomes to salvage a halve for he and teammate Beau Hossler. They were the only boys to win in Monday morning’s foursomes session.
The United States held the lead, 6 1/2-4 1/2, when play was called Monday afternoon due to darkness. The matches started 90 minutes late because of a frost delay. The United States led, 3 1/2- 2 1/2, after the morning session. The Junior Ryder Cup ends on Tuesday with 12 singles matches.
The United States’ Jim Liu and Esther Lee scored Monday afternoon’s largest victory, beating Victor Tarnstrom and Linnea Strom, 6 and 5. Robby Shelton, the Junior PGA champion, and Karen Chung beat Dominic Foos and Covadonga Sanjuan, 3 and 2. The United States’ Gavin Hall and Alison Lee were 1 up with two holes remaining against Matthias Schwab and Quirine Eljkenboom when play was called; it was the only match not to finish Monday.
Europe’s Gavin Moynihan and Emily Pedersen beat the United States’ Beau Hossler and Samantha Wagner, 2 and 1. The Europeans also earned a point when Renato Paratore and Harang Lee beat Scottie Scheffler and Casey Danielson, 5 and 3.
Champ and Cathrea are more than teammates. They’re also longtime friends, having both come out of the First Tee of Greater Sacramento. “He chilled me out,” said Cathrea, an Oklahoma State commit.
The pair was calm when it counted most, at the end of its match. And their victory helped the United States grow its lead heading into the Junior Ryder Cup’s final day.