Girls Jr.: Jutanugarn advances, Roachell out

Ariya Jutanugarn acknowledges the crowd at No. 15 during the quarterfinals of the 63rd U.S. Girls' Junior Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club.

Girls Rankings »

#NameYearStateRating
1Andrea Lee2016CA68.3
2Kristen Gillman2016TX68.49
3Bethany Wu2015CA69.07
4Angel Yin2017CA69.68
5Jillian Hollis2015OH70.33

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – Ariya Jutanugarn had no complaints about having to cool her heels for nearly two hours Friday morning as a thunder cell moved over Olympia Fields Country Club. Jutanugarn took the time to rest and regroup, then hit a few range balls and returned to her quarterfinal match with the kinks worked out.

Jutanugarn advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior after defeating Gabriella Then by a tight 1-up margin. Neither 15-year-old managed to build more than a 1-up advantage during the 18-hole match as the lead changed eight times.

“I think we both played not so good today,” Jutanugarn said after the match. For her, that meant inconsistency off the tee. She conceded that for the first nine holes, she had no idea where the ball was going. That’s unusual for Jutanugarn, who, for the first time in her career, is part of the final four in a U.S. Golf Association championship.

Then had Jutanugarn down immediately on a cloudy and cool morning, making birdie to Jutanugarn’s bogey at the first hole. There were four lead changes by the time they made the turn, and the horn blew just after Then landed in her second bunker at No. 10. She would par to lose the advantage, but get it back again with a 25-foot birdie putt at No. 13.

Jutanugarn birdied No. 15, before Then missed her first tee shot of the day, at the 16th, spraying it right and nestling it 3 feet from a fence marking out of bounds.

“I never slice the ball; I just don’t hit it like that,” Then said. “I picked driver because I knew if I hit it good, I would be closer to the green.”

Then considered taking an unplayable, but in the end tried to punch out instead. She conceded the hole as Jutanugarn waited in the fairway, with a short pitch to the green.

Jutanugarn parred out to win the match, and even the score between herself and Then. The last time they had met, three weeks ago at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort for the AJGA’s Rolex Tournament of Champions, both ended regulation tied at 6-under 282. Then beat Jutanugarn with a birdie on the first hole of sudden death.

“She’s so good,” Jutanugarn acknowledged after the round, hustling to get from the quarters to the semis. “In TOC and here, she’s still good.”

Jutanugarn and Then were followed up the final hole by Talia Campbell and Amy Lee, who had an equally close quarterfinal match. All square entering the final hole, Campbell missed a 4-footer for par at No. 18. Campbell and Lee are USGA newbies.

The other side of the bracket was a different story as neither match made it past the 14th hole. Summer Roachell had been one of the hottest players entering the quarterfinals, but she fell to Dottie Ardina, 5 and 4.

In the group ahead of them, Karen Chung, looking to advance to the final match for the first time in her career since finishing runner-up to Alexis Thompson in 2008, lost to Yu Liu, 6 and 5.

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