U.S. Curtis Cuppers avoid WAPL upsets

Lisa McCloskey plays from the tee on the first hole as seen during the second round of stroke play at the 2012 U.S. Women's Public Links at Neshanic Valley Golf Course in Neshanic Station, N.J. on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

Lisa McCloskey plays from the tee on the first hole as seen during the second round of stroke play at the 2012 U.S. Women's Public Links at Neshanic Valley Golf Course in Neshanic Station, N.J. on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

NESHANIC VALLEY, N.J. – All three Curtis Cup players survived Round 1 on Wednesday at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, though it wasn’t without drama.

Medalist Lisa McCloskey found herself down 3 holes on the back nine to Hana Ku, an intern at the USGA Museum from nearby Basking Ridge. Birdies on Nos. 13-15, however, got McCloskey back in the match.

When Ku drained a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 17, McCloskey knew her 12-footer was a must make. She sank the putt, and won the last hole with a par to finish 1 up.

“She definitely made it a lot harder than I expected,” said McCloskey, who recently completed her eligibility at USC. McCloskey, of Montgomery, Texas, said she played about as poorly as she could play for the first 12 holes.

Emily Tubert told herself Tuesday at the turn that she refused to be the only Curtis Cupper not to make match play. Tubert, an Arkansas junior from Burbank, Calif., rallied in the afternoon to make sure that she would join them in the second round.

Tubert, the 2010 WAPL champion, drove the green on the 298-yard, par-4 seventh hole with a 3-wood, nestling it to 10 feet. That helped stop the bleeding after drives went “dead left” on Nos. 4 and 5.

Tubert defeated Katie Rose Higgins, a South Carolina junior from Charleston, 2 and 1, but said she’d be on the range this afternoon to work out that tee ball.

“I can’t continue to play like this and win matches,” she said.

Tiffany Lua, who has by far the most WAPL experience in the bunch, had a rematch against Victoria Fallgren, a friend and fellow Californian. Fallgren, who will be a senior at Gonzaga, took out Lua in Round 1 of the 2010 WAPL.

“What are the chances?” Lua said when she saw the draw. “I was happy to have the rematch because I’m a competitive person. I hate losing.”

Lua, a UCLA senior from Rowland Heights, Calif., won Nos. 14-16 to close out the match, 3 and 2. This marks her eighth WAPL appearance. She will go to LPGA Q-School in the fall to secure Symetra Tour status for next summer. She isn’t sure whether she will remain an amateur after the 2013 NCAA Championship.

Looking ahead, Lua could face McCloskey in the quarterfinal match, should both players advance.

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