5 Things: U.S. Women's Amateur, Sunday
CHARLESTON, S.C. The golfers have arrived and taken to the Country Club of Charleston course, readying for the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur. Here are 5 Things to Know from Sunday:
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1. YOUNGSTER'S REALISTIC APPROACH: Lucy Li, 10, played nine holes Sunday dressed in a multi-colored, striped T-shirt and a yellow skirt with flouncy ruffles. Length will be a little bit of an obstacle at the U.S. Women’s Amateur for young Li, but she’s already decided that Nos. 1 and 18, both par 4s, might just have to be played as par 5s this week.
PHOTOS: U.S. Women's Amateur (Sunday)
View photos from Sunday at the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur at Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S. C.
“One and 18, I can’t reach in two, so I have to lay up,” Li said.
Li is playing in her second U.S. Golf Association championship this week. She also played the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links earlier this summer and become the youngest player ever to advance to match play (she was seven days younger than Michelle Wie when Wie did it in 2000).
Since then, Li has come back with a lesson: “Most people hit it farther than me.” In fact, most of Li’s thoughts about the tournament revolved around length. The WAPL venue, Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Okla., really suited Li’s game. Li is extremely accurate off the tee, yet wide fairways in Charleston will accommodate the more wild hitters.
That’s not to say Li – who averages 210 yards with her driver in practice, maybe more in competition – isn’t up to the challenge this week. In between rounds, she’ll pull out her iPad to watch Disney shows and read comics. Li is enjoying the ride.
“The tournament is very big.”
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2. IT JUST SOUNDS NICE: Among the eight USGA champions in the field at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Gabriella Then is the freshest. Then earned her trophy eight days ago, at the U.S. Girls’ Junior in Fort Wayne, Ind.
How long did it take to sink in? Perhaps the full eight days. Then was announced as one of those USGA champions on Saturday evening at the USGA players reception. It had a nice ring to it.
“Hmmm, I guess I am,” Then remembers thinking at the time.
The Thens drove from Fort Wayne to Charleston, S.C., at the end of that championship, and Gabriella took a few days off of golf. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native went to nearby DeBordieu, S.C., with her family for a surf outing.
Long board? Short board?
“Beginner boogie board,” Then answered.
Then played her final practice holes at Country Club of Charleston on Sunday with younger sister Angella, 14, on the bag. Angella, currently still an alternate, will caddie unless she gets that magic phone call that means she has a spot in the field.
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3. SO-CAL CONTINGENT: USC’s cardinal shade of red is well-represented in Charleston. There are six Trojans in the field this week, including four of the five members of the squad that last spring ran away with the NCAA Championship.
NCAA individual champion Annie Park headlines that group, along with teammates Kyung Kim, Sophia Popov and Doris Chen. Incoming USC players Gabriella Then and Karen Chung also are in the field.
That contingent includes three previous USGA champions: Then, Chen, from the 2010 U.S. Girls’ Junior, and Kim, from 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links.
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4. PARTNERS IN CRIME: When you’re far away from home, it’s important to employ the buddy system. It’s what Australians Su-Hyun Oh and Minjee Lee have done so far this summer.
Oh, at No. 2 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, is the highest ranked player in the field. World No. 1 amateur Lydia Ko – also the defending champion – chose to play the Ricoh Women’s British Open instead. That ended early Sunday in Scotland.
“I guess you think about it,” Oh said thoughtfully of the ranking, but about that time Lee walked by to distract her friend. Lee is No. 4 in the world. Both girls are 17 years old, but Oh is quick to point out that she is four days older.
“We are literally crime partners,” Oh said. The two made the trip to the U.S. earlier this summer as the top two finishers in the Karrie Webb series, a female junior circuit Down Under. It meant they got to accompany Webb to the U.S. Women’s Open.
Oh was supposed to tee it up with Lee at the U.S. Girls’ Junior a week ago, but a back injury kept her on the sidelines. She made it to the quarterfinals at that tournament a year ago, and made it there against at last year’s Women’s Am. Oh called the Country Club of Charleston a second-shot course, and said she’s spent the majority of the day practicing in the thick rough around wide fairways.
“I guess that’s a USGA tournament,” she said.
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5. CURTIS CUP CABINET BARE: Only one member of the 2012 U.S. Curtis Cup team remains an amateur, and thus is eligible to play this week in Charleston. That’s Emily Tubert, the long-hitting senior who plays for Arkansas. Tubert is joined in the field by only two other U.S. Curtis Cup veterans: Meghan Stasi, part of the winning 2008 team, and Ellen Port, a member of the 1994 and ’96 teams, and the captain of the 2014 matches.
Only three former Great Britain and Ireland team members are in Charleston: Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire from the victorious 2012 squad, and Maguire’s twin sister Lisa, who played in 2010.