ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Yueer “Cindy” Feng is one of those players who seemingly has been around forever, yet is only 16. Early success tends to prematurely age players.
Feng birdied four consecutive holes (Nos. 10-13) Jan. 9 at Oceanside Country Club to open the South Atlantic Amateur with a 5-under 67 on a mild, overcast day on Florida’s east coast. The Chinese teen is tied for the lead with Princeton junior Kelly Shon in the second event of the annual Florida Orange Blossom Circuit.
After the round, Feng’s father, Delin, handed her a small container of oatmeal. There would be no burger and fries at Oceanside’s Babe Zaharias Cafe for this pair. Serious golf calls for serious food.
It’s difficult to say what will come of Feng, whose petite father is very much involved in her every step. When Cindy was asked what she thought of fellow countrywoman Shanshan Feng becoming the first Chinese player to win a major, last summer at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, her father, standing nearby, simply repeated Tiger’s name over and over, as if to say that Woods is always the answer.
At age 5, Feng played two holes with ...
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DORAL, Fla. –- As Canada's Albin Choi stood in the famed 18th fairway at Doral’s TPC Blue Monster, he told his captain to give it to him straight. Live scoring lagged a bit on the final holes of the Copa de las Americas, and Choi wanted to know exactly what it would take to put his Canadian team in front of Mexico and the U.S. for good.
The latter two teams began the final round five shots behind Canada. Whispers and frantic calculations indicated a three-way tie for much of the final minutes of the tournament. Then the 10-footers started finding the bottom of the cup at No. 18.
In the penultimate group, American Steven Fox made a 10-footer for the U.S. before Rodolfo Cazaubon followed with one of similar length for Mexico. In the fairway, Choi stood with captain Robert Ratcliffe and knew it was close.
“We had the leaderboard pulled up the last few holes and (Ratcliffe) told us what we needed to do and how we stood,” Choi said. For him, that meant sinking a 12-footer for par and the outright ...
SEBRING, Fla. – Erica Popson was bigger and stronger and much older than her closest competitors at the Harder Hall Invitational. But if there’s one thing followers of the women’s game know, it’s that none of that really matters.
Mika Liu, the 13-year-old playing in the final group alongside Popson, an All-American at Tennessee, drained a lengthy birdie putt on the 72nd hole at Harder Hall Golf Club with absolutely no idea what it meant.
Popson, 21, needed to make an 8-foot birdie putt to avoid a playoff against an eighth-grader. She knew exactly where she stood against Liu and delivered.
“This is my first amateur title,” said Popson, a senior. “First and last.”
Popson, of nearby Davenport, Fla., heads back to school for one last semester. She plans to turn professional after the NCAA Championship. This is only her second appearance at the Harder Hall, a tournament rich in history and prone to bad weather. The temperature hovered around 80 on Sunday.
Popson headed into the final round in Sebring two strokes behind Liu. When Liu bogeyed the 11th hole, Popson birdied to take a one-shot lead. She expanded her lead to two with another birdie, on ...
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DORAL, Fla. – Jim Williams is not a course-to-range-to-bed-and-back kind of captain. On the outskirts of trendy South Beach, he has proved to have so much more style than that.
For the Copa de las Americas’ maiden visit to U.S. soil, at Doral's Blue Monster, it’s hard to imagine that the U.S. Golf Association could have found a more fitting captain. Except, Williams better describes his role as host. That’s just in his nature – Williams also is a member of the USGA Executive Committee.
The Copa is a biennial event among four-player teams from North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. An overall winner is named after 72 holes, and so are men’s and women’s team winners. The U.S. has won the past two events, and enters this year’s final round trailing two-time winner Canada by five shots.
The Americans have spent the early part of the week shaking off rust and bonding as a team. The U.S. posted its lowest team score of the week, 3-over 291, on Saturday. Is the best yet to come ...
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DORAL, Fla. – Through three rounds of the Copa de las Americas, Albin Choi has all but secured man-of-the-match status for Canada. With 18 holes to play, the Canadians have a five-shot advantage on the U.S. and Mexico.
Five shots can disappear quickly at Doral’s Blue Monster.
For proof, look to the carnage and the triumphs that occurred at No. 18 on Saturday afternoon. Choi, in the last group to play the famous hole, hung a par putt on the lip that meant the difference between 69 and 70. He squatted down, hung his head, took off his ball cap and chucked his golf ball into the water. It certainly wasn’t the worst turn of luck at that hole.
An hour earlier, U.S. player Lindy Duncan went from even par to 4-over 76 when she left a flop shot in a bunker long and right of the green, then blasted her next shot over the green and into the water. Duncan, a Fort Lauderdale, native had been staging a charge for the Americans until that hole. Still, the 76 tied her best round of ...
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DORAL, Fla. – From a fairway away, Laura Blanco could pass for an Arizona State player of old, Juliana Murcia Ortiz. That’s good news for Blanco.
The Colombian grew up idolizing compatriot Murcia Ortiz. She’s one reason Blanco ended up on the Sun Devils' roster two years ago.
Blanco has the same confident stride and swinging black braid as Murcia Ortiz, who graduated from Arizona State in 2010 and has since turned professional. Murcia Ortiz finished 29th on the Symetra Tour money list in 2012.
By week’s end at the Copa de las Americas, Blanco could join Murcia Ortiz in the event’s record book. The competition is between four-player teams from South America, Central America, North America and the Caribbean, and features overall team, male team and female team winners.
When Murcia Ortiz played this tournament in 2005 with Paola Morena, the Colombian women won. Blanco is well aware.
“We are defending,” she said.
Colombia was solo third on the overall leaderboard after Round 2, and the women are tied for fourth with Mexico at 17-over 305. Argentina and Canada are tied for first ...
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DORAL, Fla. – Jaime Lopez Rivarola is trying hard to stick to his captain’s gameplan. Santiago Garat, leading Argentina this week at the Copa de las Americas, told his players to concentrate on their own games. Seems logical enough, except that his message to Rivarola and teammate Alejandro Tosti was slightly different than it was to female team members Maria Olivero and Delfina Acosta.
“The girls have a pretty solid game, and he knows that they can win it easily,” Rivarola said. “The difference is the guys. Alejandro shot a pretty solid round yesterday (72), and we know he can do as good as yesterday, so the key was just to concentrate on our game, not on the others'.”
Rivarola didn’t sound the slightest bit offended, and maybe it’s because Garat seems to be on to something. By day’s end, Argentina trailed Canada by one shot in the overall competition while the Argentine women were tied with Canada atop their respective division. The Argentine men were fourth.
The Copa de las Americas features men's and women's amateurs from North, South and Central ...
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DORAL, Fla. – Fabiola Arriaga and Gabriela Lopez set the real pace around Doral’s Blue Monster in the first round of the Copa de las Americas. Playing in twosomes with Guatemala, Mexico’s women were easily off the course in less than four hours. Playing in the third group off the first tee on Thursday morning, teammate Carlos Ortiz did some pace-setting of his own. His 4-under 68 held up as the lowest score in Round 1, by two shots.
By day’s end, Mexico was in fourth on the team leaderboard, only five shots behind leader Argentina.
“This is a really tough competition because every scorecard counts,” said Santiago Casado, Mexican National Coach. Among Mexico’s four scores was a 77 and an 80.
Casado states his team’s goal for the week as nothing less than a victory. There are several indicators among his four players of how golf is growing in Mexico. Of the 38 players in the field, 24 currently play or have played college golf in the U.S. Mexico is one of only three teams made up of four current collegians ...
SEBRING, Fla. – Latanna Stone sat down in the Harder Hall clubhouse after an exceptionally long opening day and made a simple request.
“Daddy, I want something to drink,” she said.
Then Latanna opened up her new black Coach wristlet and pulled out a folded $50.
“You buyin’?” her dad, Michael, asked.
Odds are that money came from Santa Claus, or some other generous spirit. Stone, after all, is only 11 and hardly aware of how fast $50 disappears these days. She’s anxious to get a new MacBook Pro, already tired of the iPad that won’t play her DVDs. Michael Stone said the new computer might come when she starts virtual school. Mom has homeschooled Latanna at the kitchen table the last four years.
Stone doesn’t come across as spoiled, just a typical 11 year old, hot after the latest gadgets and big-kid toys. What makes her atypical, however, is her golf game.
Last summer Stone became the youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur at 10. Michael signed her up for the experience and got cotton-mouth when he began to realize that she might actually qualify for the championship in Cleveland. The ...
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DORAL, Fla. – At the Copa de las Americas, caddies are allowed. Most of the field used them around Doral’s Blue Monster, but not Maria Olivero. She used a push-cart.
Olivero has the distinction of being the oldest competitior in the field this week. At 39, the stay-at-home mom says she feels a little out of place among the kids. The next oldest players, a trio of men, are 29. The average age for the championship is 20, and Olivero’s other female Argentina teammate, Delfina Acosta, is 17.
“Now all the tournaments are not just for young people, but young players are the best ones,” Olivero said.
It isn’t too long after Olivero explains this that a series of men pass by the scoring tent set up beside the ninth green. When Olivero delivers the good news of her first-round 72 – three birdies, three bogeys – they all grin and nod.
One, dressed in a caddie bib, grabs Olivero’s arm and congratulates her. She should be in contention.
“Even. Muy bien,” says another.
They converse in Spanish before Olivero shoos him away to continue the ...
Isabelle Lendl won the Dixie Women’s Amateur on Jan. 2, thanks in large part to a final-round 66 at Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs, Fla. The University of Florida senior already has two victories for the 2012-13 college season, and is No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.
Lendl started the final round of the Dixie five shots behind leader Carly Rae Goldstein, a 17-year-old who has signed with LSU. Lendl's final round left her with a 10-under 278 total and four shots clear of the next closest competitors, Goldstein and Cindy Feng, who tied for second at 6-under 282.
Christina Ocampo was solo fourth at 3-under 285. USC-bound Annie Park, Brooke Baker and Matilda Castren tied for fifth at 286.
Defending champion Paula Reto, a Purdue senior, was part of a three-way tie for eighth.
A quick preview of this weekend's Copa de las Americas, being held for the first time on U.S. soil.
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Copa de las Americas
Jan. 3-6, Doral (Blue Monster), Miami
Notable players in the field: Fabiola Arriaga, Texas-San Antonio junior (No. 31 in Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings); Rodolfo Cazaubon, North Texas senior (No. 42); Chris Williams, Washington senior (No. 45) and No. 1 in R&A rankings; Albin Choi, N.C. State junior (No. 30); Steven Fox, Chattanooga senior (No. 86) and U.S. Amateur champion; Erynne Lee, UCLA sophomore (No. 9) and 2012 college freshman of the year; Lindy Duncan, Duke senior (No. 8) and 2012 college player of the year.
Why it’s important: The Copa de las Americas will be played on U.S. soil for the first time in its five-year history. The 72-hole event at Doral’s Blue Monster course is a biennial team event for amateurs in North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. The U.S. won this event the last two times it was played, and Canada won twice before that. Those two countries present tough rosters again this year. The Americans boast U.S. Amateur winner Steven Fox and ...
A look at the Harder Hall Invitational, which begins on Thursday in Florida.
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Harder Hall Invitational
Jan. 3-6, Harder Hall Golf Club, Sebring, Fla.
Notables in the field: Former Harder Hall champs Kyle Roig and Ashleigh Albrecht; 2012 Curtis Cupper Erica Popson; Latanna Stone, who qualified for U.S. Women’s Amateur at age 10; Isabelle Lendl, winner of last week’s Dixie Amateur; Ashlan Ramsey, ranked No. 4 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings and older sister Taylor Ramsey.
The skinny: Carol Semple Thompson, the matriarch of women’s amateur golf, runs this historic event in middle-of-nowhere Florida. Past champs include Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Natalie Gulbis, Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome. This year’s weather will be unusually warm, with temps in the mid-70’s. Harder Hall is known for its frigid weather. U.S. Women’s Am finalist Jaye Marie Green withdrew several years back with fears of frost bite.
Overall, this year’s field is fairly weak with the Curtis Cup not coming until 2014. Last year’s champ, Charley Hull, turned pro and will play in Europe.
Hannah Suh of San Jose, Calif., won the Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle on Dec. 30, finishing the 54-hole event at 6-under 210 at the ASU Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz.
Suh shot a final-round 5-under 67 to move from 15th to first in the final day of the tournament. The event is open to female amateurs ages 13-23.
Suh, a freshman at California, opened the college season by finishing T-2 with teammate Jacqueline Williams at the Washington State Cougar Cup. The Golden Bears won the team title.
“We’re really encouraged by Hannah’s play at the ASU Karsten Golf Course,” Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel said. “We travel to ASU to play in their event in April, and it really gives Hannah and our team a good boost going into the spring.”
Simin Feng, a junior golfer based in Orlando, Fla., who is headed to Vanderbilt next fall, finished tied for second with fellow junior Amy Lee of Brea, Calif. Both shot 5-under 211.
Alexandra Kaui, an Oklahoma signee from Las Vegas, tied for fourth with Krystal Quihuis of Tucson, Ariz., at 213.
Information from Cal Athletics used in this report
The amateur season roared in with talk of the Curtis Cup in Scotland, and died down with the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey, which made patriotism a big part of 2012. But in terms of women’s amateur golf, 2012 also was the year of the Kiwi (read: Lydia Ko) and the last summer of the Jutanugarn sisters.
Golfweek will spend 10 days counting down the top amateur players of the past year. Who will be No. 1? Who else will make the list? Check back each day.
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No. 1: Lydia Ko
R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking: 1
2012 in review: Won LPGA Canadian Women’s Open; wom U.S. Women’s Amateur; won Australian Women’s Amateur; won New South Wales Open; made cut/low amateur at U.S. Women’s Open and Ricoh Women’s British Open; individual medalist, Women’s World Amateur Team Championship
Lydia Ko isn’t just the best amateur story of 2012, she’s the best story in women’s golf from the past year. The 15-year-old from Auckland, New Zealand played two seasons in 2012 – starting the year with summer Down Under before ...