GLEN COVE, N.Y. – Bethany Wu began her second round on the 10th hole at Nassau Country Club and hit an 8-iron to 5 inches.
The day looked promising from the start.
Wu birdied four of her first six holes Tuesday at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She shot 69-68 and had to wait until nearly 7 p.m. to learn whether she’d earned medalist honors.
“I guess if I’m medalist, I’m medalist,” she said, taking it all in stride.
Wu finished at 3-under 137, one shot ahead of Andrea Lee (69) and Su-Hyun Oh (72). They were the only three players to finish stroke-play qualifying under par.
Wu, a high school senior, said the course looked wide compared with her last two tournament venues. That’s a helpful mindset, given the difficulty of Nassau’s rough.
For Wu, the best part is yet to come as the UCLA commit actually prefers match play over stroke. She advanced to the semifinals of the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior.
“I like that one-on-one thing,” she said.
Eight players are vying for three spots in a sudden-death playoff. The playoff will begin on No. 10 and move to 11, 17 and 18 if necessary. Wu will face the yet-to-be-determined 64th seed.
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SoCAL SHUTOUT: A deflated Annie Park met with a small group of reporters just off the 18th green at Nassau Country Club. This was supposed to be a great homecoming for the mighty Trojan. The biggest amateur championship in women’s golf is being held a mere 30 minutes from her in home to Levittown.
Only Park won’t be coming back.
“I just stopped trying,” said Park, who missed the cut after a second-round 77. “It was like, ‘Uh, this is brutal.’ “
Park’s 9-over 149 put her one stroke outside the cutline at the 114th U.S. Women’s Amateur. She had struggled on the greens in her opening 72, but Tuesday, the frustrations carried throughout the bag. Park notched five bogeys and a double.
“I think it was because I couldn’t make any putts, so then I had more pressure on my shots to get it closer,” said Park, who tried changing her putting grip on Day 2.
It’s been a tough week for powerhouse USC. In addition to Park’s struggles, Kyung Kim withdrew before the championship with a sore wrist. Doris Chen withdrew after nine holes with a sore, swollen ankle. The 2014 NCAA champion injured the ankle in an ice-skating spill.
Sophomore Gabriella Then missed the cut with rounds of 79-76. Karen Chung, a junior, also failed to advance after rounds of 74-76.
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12-YEAR-OLD ADVANCES: Karah Sanford birdied the last two holes to become the fourth 12-year-old to make match play at the Women’s Am. Sanford said she stood on the seventh tee (her 16th) knowing she would need to birdie a couple of holes to avoid a playoff. She promptly bogeyed.
That hiccup made the 20-footer Sanford drained on the eighth hole even sweeter.
On the short par-4 ninth, Sanford said she crushed her drive and had 56 yards left.
“That green has a false front,” she said, proving once again that these young prodigies know a lot more than simply how to hit the ball.
Sanford, a rising eighth-grader from California, came within 3 inches of a closing eagle, but settled for birdie to shoot 74.
When asked how long she has been playing golf, Karah’s big brother Bobby said: “How long have you been walking?”
The answer: eight years.
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TALLEY’S CONSERVATION EFFORT: Alabama’s Emma Talley put the driver away on the back nine. The 2013 Women’s Amateur champ was cutting it close at 7 over with four holes to play and needed a conservative rally to avoid a playoff.
On the sixth hole (her 15th), Talley hit a 6-iron to 20 feet and then listened to her dad say, “You got this,” several times before she struck the putt. The birdie put her safely inside the cutline, at 6 over.
“Anything can happen now,” she said.
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HENDERSON CRUISES: Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, 16, sailed through to match play with matching 71s. If she had it her way, this would be Henderson’s last U.S. Women’s Amateur. The Canadian petitioned the LPGA to waive its age limit for qualifying school.
Players must be 18 years old to qualify for the tour unless the LPGA commissioner grants a special exemption. Henderson said her request was denied a couple of weeks ago and that she remained committed to the University of Florida.
She has one more year of high school left and would be 18 by the final stage of the 2015 LPGA Q-School. (At this point, one day of college golf would come as a surprise.)
After Henderson earned low-amateur honors for finishing tied for 10th at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst, she immediately won a Canadian Women’s Tour event at Niagara Falls. The victory earned her an exemption into the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.
She then won the Ontario Women’s Amateur, finished third at the Canadian Amateur and won her third professional title, at the PGA Women’s Championship of Canada on July 31, with rounds of 65-66.