Wu, 13, survives record 30-hole match to reach U.S. Women's Am semis

USGA/Steven Gibbons

Wu, 13, survives record 30-hole match to reach U.S. Women's Am semis

Amateur

Wu, 13, survives record 30-hole match to reach U.S. Women's Am semis

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A 13-year-old eighth-grader from Chinese Taipei won the longest 18-hole match in USGA history, dating back to 1895. Chia Yen Wu beat 20-year-old Lauren Stephenson on the 30th hole to become the youngest player in U.S. Women’s Amateur history to advance to the semifinals.

It was a wild and wacky marathon at San Diego Country Club, and it would’ve pushed to Saturday had Wu not drained a 25-foot par putt to end it in the waning hours of daylight.

“My caddie just told me, ‘I want to go eat dinner,’ ” said Wu.

Her caddie, local businessman Scott Patel, won the club championship here two years ago and was supposed to see his daughter off to college this weekend at UC-Berkeley. That will have to wait.

Patel has helped young Wu read the greens confidently this week, and she put on a short-game clinic against players who outsize her in every sense of the world. When asked if she felt young, Wu smiled and said, “Yeah, and I feel I’m short. Everybody is taller than me.”

One of the most incredible moments of the playoff came on the 26th hole, when the unflappable Wu rolled in a 70-foot birdie putt after Stephenson stuffed it to 3 feet.

“I told my caddie, I want to make it,” said Wu.

And she did. Even Stephenson clapped.

“That putt, I mean, that’s going to be on TV and you’re going to see that forever,” said Stephenson. “Like that was crazy.”

Wu actually qualified for this championship last year at age 12 but had to withdraw before competition started due to a knee injury. One year later, she’s a part of history.

“Like usually in match play you’re kind of joking with yourself, like you have to expect they’re going to make it,” said Stephenson, “but like with her, I would tell my dad, I was like, I’m not kidding, every chip she hits or putt, I have to expect that it’s going to go in because it’s right on it every time.”

The previous USGA record for an 18-hole match – male or female – was 28 holes set in 1930 at the U.S. Amateur and 1960 at the Junior Amateur.

Wu became the youngest semifinalist in the 117th staging of the Women’s Amateur, besting Aree Song Wongluekiet, who set the previous mark at 14 years, 6 months in 2000. She’ll next face 21-year-old Sophia Schubert of Oak Ridge, Tenn., in the semifinals.

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