Feng finds rhythm in nomadic amateur life

Yueer Cindy Feng climbed to the top of the stroke-play leaderboard Tuesday at the U.S. Women's Amateur.

Stroke-play scores (Final)

CHARLESTON, S.C. – One of the most recurring questions in Yueer 'Cindy' Feng’s young golf career has been in reference to her first name. It’s one nobody seems able to pronounce quite right, which is why Feng has developed a recurring answer.

“Just call me Cindy.”

After a 3-under 68 at the Country Club of Charleston in Tuesday’s second round of stroke-play qualifying – which left her at 2 under for the tournament, tied for the early lead – Feng tried to explain the origin of her name. It’s more of a nickname back home in China, Feng explained, and doesn’t translate well in the English alphabet.

Feng’s given name actually is the Chinese character that would be represented by the letters “Yue,” and it’s the same character used for the word “moon.” She explains the added “er” as the equivalent of using the nickname “Bobby” for a man named “Bob.”

“Somehow that ended up on my legal papers,” Feng said of Yueer. “I don’t know how that happened.”

Regardless of what name she uses, Feng is a recurring figure at U.S. Golf Association championships. This week marks her third U.S. Women’s Amateur, and she played her fifth U.S. Girls’ Junior two weeks ago.

“I do feel like I’ve played for a long time,” Feng said. “I did play really well when I was 13, 14, but then somewhere in between there and now, I was kind of struggling a little bit.”

Part of that comes from the nomadic life an elite amateur leads, but Feng said she’s gotten more comfortable on the road.

“I’m almost getting into a rhythm in a way, which is good.”

• • •

SCORING TRENDS: Casie Cathrea is predictable in her unpredictability. The 17-year-old is notorious for combining one high round with one low one, often a record-breaking low one, in USGA stroke-play qualifying. On Tuesday, Cathrea shot a 4-under 67, the third-lowest stroke-play round in U.S. Women’s Amateur history, to back up a first-round 77. Her second round put her safely into match play.

“It’s just something I do,” Cathrea said after the round. “My dad calls it bipolar.”

Cathrea struggled to explain the tendency, guessing that it had something to do with pre-tournament anxiety. She was proud of her patience on Tuesday, something she achieved with the help of Alan Bratton, head men’s golf coach at Oklahoma State. Bratton texted Cathrea some words of encouragement on Monday night, and it helped produce the 67.

Meanwhile, Cathrea is counting down the days on Twitter until she becomes a bona fide Cowgirl. Cathrea has “10 sleeps” (in other words, 10 days) until she arrives at Oklahoma State.

• • •

SOCKING IT TO THE FIELD: Like Cathrea, Kelly Shon’s line on the scoreboard also had a polar feel. The Princeton senior shaved six shots on Tuesday, going bogey free for a 3-under 68.

“Yesterday I think I was a little more frustrated than I needed to be,” Shon said. “I was hitting the ball better than I have been coming in.”

Polar is a familiar word for Shon, who went 8 over in the first 36 holes of the Canadian Women’s Amateur before trading caddies (her mom had been on the bag for the first half). She was 3 under in the second half of the tournament, and tied for fourth.

It’s been a good summer of golf for Shon, who won the South Atlantic Amateur to start 2013, as she prepares to put the finishing touches on a sociology degree. Still, Shon decided to test the luck Tuesday of a pair of long white socks that had produced a good round at NCAA Regionals. She only wore the socks then because of a packing oversight – they were the only clean pair she had – but wondered Tuesday if they would double as a fashion statement. Post-round, 68 also looked good on her.

“I’m a fan of socks,” Shon said.

• • •

ONE FOR CANADA: Brooke Mackenzie Henderson is 11 days removed from winning the Canadian Women’s Amateur. She finished her second round of stroke play one shot off the lead in Charleston and still called Tuesday an “up-and-down” day.

Henderson is shy and modest, but at 15, is one of the most promising young talents in the field. She also made the cut and tied for 59th at the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this summer, and is No. 11 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, the highest Canadian.

“The summer has been a lot of fun,” Henderson said. “I played well in a lot of tournaments I was just hoping to qualify for.”

It’s a serious understatement, but she’s not fooling many. Henderson, who enters the 11th grade this fall at Smith Falls District Collegiate Institute back home in Ontario, is a hot commodity for college recruiters. She’s tight-lipped about her upcoming decision, but admits she has narrowed it down to two possibilities. Both of those schools, she said as a hint, are in Florida.

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