Green tops Zhang to reach U.S. Women's Am final

Jaye Marie Green hits her shot at No. 17 during the semifinals at the 112th U. S. Women's Amateur Championship.

Jaye Marie Green hits her shot at No. 17 during the semifinals at the 112th U. S. Women's Amateur Championship.

CLEVELAND – Jaye Marie Green’s mother used her phone to capture a snippet of Golf Channel coverage for her daughter to see. Stephanie Green screamed so loud in the video when her daughter’s putt dropped, Jaye Marie’s ears are still ringing from watching the clip.

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is the Green family is pumped to make to it to Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Just look at her daddy caddie’s bleach-blond hair. Even the rain can’t keep it down.

Only three days ago, a disappointed Green sat in the player locker room. She’d just missed seeing a portion of her match replayed on TV. She’ll have plenty of footage to look at after this week’s championship as Green is one of two players left standing after seven rounds at The Country Club. She’ll square off against 15-year-old Lydia Ko in the 36-hole final. Somewhere, Stephanie Green is booking a flight to Cleveland.

“She said if I make the finals, she’d fly in,” Jaye Marie said, smiling wide.

While mom has tried to not to faint at the keyboard back in Boca Raton, Fla., Donnie green had a front-row view on a wet, windy day in Cleveland. Dad has quietly carried the bag for Jaye Marie, offering advice only when asked. Green flies solo at junior events and told her teaching-pro father: “Dad, if I need help, I’ll just ask you.”

That moment came on the 18th hole Saturday against Nicole Zhang, when Jaye Marie wanted a second opinion on her choice of club going into the green. She leaned toward a three-quarters 7-iron, and dad gave her that extra vote of confidence.

Green, who led 1 up, knocked it 18 feet long and left, in solid position for par. That left 20-year-old Zhang, who had outdriven Green most of the day, with a choked-down 9-iron.

“I hit the purest shot I probably ever hit,” said Zhang, who expected to stuff it close. But a gust of wind kicked up at a most inopportune time for Zhang, who watched her ball instead come up short of the green. She tried to chip in and got too aggressive, knocking her third shot outside of Green’s ball marker. Zhang conceded the birdie to Green, giving her a 2-up victory.

“I didn’t give up at all,” Zhang said, handling the loss with great poise.

The semifinalists at this year’s Women’s Am all came with good storylines and hearty resumes. Before Zhang starts school at Northwestern in the fall, she’ll head to Shanghai to develop a prototype and look at factories for her top-secret yoga invention. Zhang began practicing yoga in June and has come up with product that’s so cool she won’t even talk about it.

Her father, Charles, is her investor. Charles, a native of China, imports pipes for drilling oil and her mother, Jen, is a retired computer programmer from Taiwan. They met in Canada and live in Calgary, Alberta.

Green was the lone American in the final four. She plans to turn professional later this year when she attends LPGA Q-School. Green has to be a lock to represent the U.S. at the World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey this fall, which means she might not turn pro until the final stage of Q-School in December.

All week Green has been asked about Q-School and her future plans. She has tried hard, however, to keep focused on winning her biggest amateur title to date.

“Everyone in this whole tournament is good from Day One,” Green said.

Fittingly, she’ll have to face arguably the best in the final round. Ko, a Korean-born New Zealander who is ranked No. 1 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, owns a tour-caliber game.

It should be quite a show.

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