CLEVELAND – Nicole Zhang really likes school. That’s not something heard too often among a crowd of teenagers and twentysomethings, especially ones who love golf.
Still, it’s a character trait that prompted Zhang to spend the last year doing something she had never before experienced. She went to class at Notre Dame, she made friends, she took a semester off and yes, she even played a little golf. It just didn’t rule her life.
“I learned so much this year, school-wise, made a lot of friends,” she said.
Time away from the course doesn’t seem to have had any adverse effect on Zhang. She defeated top-seeded Hyo-Joo Kim on Thursday afternoon at The Country Club to advance to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Zhang, the No. 17 seed, went 1 up at the 13th when Kim bogeyed, then matched pars for the next five holes to win, 1 up.
“Looking back on it, I don’t really remember too much of the match,” she said. “I was so focused, I was in the zone just focusing on one shot at a time, just continuously pushing myself.”
If Zhang’s name sounds familiar, it ...
CLEVELAND -– If there are six degrees of separation between anyone in Hollywood and Kevin Bacon, there were two degrees of separation between Jaye Marie Green and anonymity here at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Green got a new set of TaylorMade irons a month ago that were two degrees flat. The clubs felt so off during the first round of stroke-play qualifying that Green hoped she’d simply make the cut.
Green’s father Donnie, a PGA Teaching Professional at Broken Sound, spent Monday afternoon at The Country Club going back and forth between the range and the loft/lie machine until each club in Jaye Marie’s bag felt like an extension of her hand.
“The irons sing for her now,” Donnie Green said.
Jaye Marie, an 18-year-old from Boca Raton who decided to forgo a scholarship at Florida to go to LPGA Q-School this fall, took down Lisa McCloskey on the 18th green to advance to the quarterfinals.
Neither McCloskey nor Green carded a bogey in a rare All-American showdown. The two soon-to-be professionals put on a fine display of talent Thursday afternoon once the morning rain had cleared. Green took control of the match on the ...
CLEVELAND – Hyo-Joo Kim, the 17-year-old medalist who has won on two professional tours, rolled into the Sweet 16 with a 2-and-1 victory over Isabelle Lendl on a rainy day at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She now faces Northwestern’s Nicole Zhang in her afternoon match.
“On the front nine it wasn’t working out as I expected,” said Kim through the help of her caddie/interpreter Euna Park. The match was all square heading into the par-3 ninth where Kim drained a short birdie putt and started to feel like herself again.
Kim and Lendl, a senior at Florida, posted only three bogeys total in 17 holes. Lendl gave herself a number of birdie chances from within the 15-foot range, but didn’t convert enough putts.
“When you’re winning matches, those go in,” she said.
Lendl had older sister Marika on the bag and younger sister “Crash” in the gallery. Their tennis legend father, Ivan, arrived at The Country Club this morning to watch Round 2.
“She switched instructors in April and is starting to have good results,” Ivan said.
It has been a whirlwind year for Ivan Lendl, who began coaching Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray ...
CLEVELAND - Jessica Vasilic doesn’t look 16 years old. She doesn’t speak like a girl barely old enough to drive either.
The 6-foot-3-inch blond Swede who calls herself a “Cali girl” easily could stand at the net at tonight’s Olympic gold-medal match in beach volleyball and not look out of place. Volleyball happens to be her second favorite sport. Golf is the first.
“There’s nothing like playing an independent game like golf,” said Vasilic, who lives in Anaheim Hills, Calif. “You win on your own and lose on your own.”
Vasilic took command of her first-round match at the U.S. Women’s Amateur on the 10th hole and ran away from China’s Yueer Feng, taking four consecutive holes on Nos. 10-13.
“From there, it was a nice walk,” said Vasilic, a 4-and-3 winner.
Vasilic moved to California from Sweden at age 4. Her grandfather, now 81, taught her the game. Because carts aren’t allowed in Sweden, he now plays six-hole rounds. She admires his grit.
A rising senior at Canyon High School, Vasilic committed to the University of Arizona in large part because the school produced LPGA greats Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. Vasilic ...
CLEVELAND – The night before her first-round match with Moriya Jutanugarn, Amy Anderson knew the next day would be something of a grudge match.
Anderson had been in this position before. Jutanugarn knocked her out in a run to the final a year ago at the U.S. Women’s Amateur before eventually falling to Danielle Kang. It is arguably the biggest amateur accomplishment of Jutanugarn’s young career.
While it’s hard to imagine that the smiling, blond Anderson or the equally affable Jutanugarn could hold a grudge against anyone – let alone each other – Wednesday’s match at The Country Club was a tight one. It still ended in laughter, and soon after a tearful Jutanugarn was in Anderson’s arms.
The final holes of that match were unlucky ones for Jutanugarn, and the day ended in Anderson’s favor, 1 up. At no point did the match become more lop-sided than that.
“She’s a phenomenal player, there’s no doubt about that,” Anderson said. “I knew that I had my work cut out for me, but it is good to get a win.”
All square at No. 16 tee, Jutanugarn took a lead by holing out from a ...
CLEVELAND –- Call Cyna Rodriguez’s Wednesday morning match against Ani Gulugian a Pac-12 showdown. But at the end of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, UCLA’s Gulugian is the only one who will return west. Instead, Rodriguez, a former USC player, is going home to play with the Philippine national team.
Rodriguez, who was on the USC roster during her freshman and sophomore seasons but was academically ineligible last year as a junior, says it was a simple case of wanting to concentrate entirely on golf.
“I can’t balance school and golf,” she said. “I can’t do anything better in school or in golf, and it’s pretty hard living away from home.”
She will focus on competing with the Philippine national team in the fall. Next on her schedule is the Santi Cup, Taiwan Amateur and the Hong Kong Amateur with national teammates Jayvie Marie Agojo and Dottie Ardina. Rodriguez hopes to be selected to the three-woman team that will represent the Philippines at the World Team Amateur in September.
“My game is coming along,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t able to play any tournaments last year, and being back out here is fun. I’m ...
CLEVELAND – Hyo-Joo Kim doesn’t speak English. Golf is a global game, particularly on the LPGA, so this is nothing new. But here at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, Kim, a South Korean, isn’t traveling with an agent or an interpreter, just her dad. So when she walked out of the scoring tent Tuesday afternoon leading stroke-play qualifying, there was a bit of concern on the part of your intrepid reporter.
On Day 1, the USGA had enlisted the help of Princeton’s Kelly Shon to interpret after her opening 4-under 68. Shon did a fine job, but she was nowhere to be found when Kim put the finishing touches on another 68.
Kim and her father enlisted the help of junior Karen Chung, who was on the practice putting green at the time. Chung cheerfully walked over to the side of the green and helped clear up a few details.
Kim, 17, will be making her professional debut in October at the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship. She plans to play two years on the Korean LPGA before trying the LPGA. She already has won on the KLPGA and Japan LPGA and tied for fourth two weeks ago ...
CLEVELAND – After signing her scorecard at the end of Tuesday’s second round of U.S. Women’s Amateur stroke play, young Latanna Stone had the opportunity to do a little more math. She turned to playing partners Steffi Neisen, 20, and Marissa Dodd, 18, (both collegians) to ask their ages.
It still didn’t make her feel young.
It wasn’t uncommon at The Country Club to hear Stone referenced simply as “the 10-year-old.” She’s by far the youngest player in the field, and the youngest to qualify for a U.S. Women’s Amateur. Naturally that drew media attention in the weeks leading up to the championship, but Stone didn’t take too much notice. Dad/caddie Michael was just fine with that.
“My wife and I wanted to keep it low-key,” he said. “I wanted her to respect the field and understand that these ladies are playing at a higher level.”
After rounds of 82-78, Stone won’t return on Wednesday for match play. That was her goal at the beginning of the week, but she’s OK walking away knowing that she did something great already: Just qualifying for this event is a big accomplishment ...
CLEVELAND – Three identical, hollow stars are inked into the inside of Breanna Elliott’s right wrist - one each for Elliott and her two best girlfriends back home in Melbourne, Australia.
Elliott, now 20, has had them since she was 18, and can still remember the night she decided to visit the tattoo parlor. She was waiting with her friends to find out what college they had been accepted into. Her life, meanwhile, would go in a different direction.
Two years later, Elliott is finally ready to pursue a professional career after months spent learning the nomadic life of a tour player. Elliott has been on and off the Australian national team for most of it, traveling the world to find the best amateur events. Her game is peaking now, evidenced by last week’s victory at the Women’s Trans Mississippi Amateur, so it’s time to go to LPGA Q-School.
“This year has been the best year to date,” said Elliott, who took up the game at 14. “There’s no point in sort of waiting.”
Elliott says she always has been passionate about sports and her parents have supported it, even if it did mean no college. As ...
CLEVELAND – It’s something of a miracle that Lisa McCloskey made it to her 21st birthday. The accident-prone McCloskey – wearing a white bandage across the bridge of her nose – gave herself a nice birthday present Aug. 7 with a 2-under 70 in the second round of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, easily advancing to match play at The Country Club. No, she didn’t get punched in the face. Yes, she did walk into a metal pole.
McCloskey, a 2012 Curtis Cup member, isn’t going to let a small nose fracture keep her from that allusive USGA crown. Heck, that’s nothing compared to all the freakish things that have happened to her over the years.
While a freshman at Pepperdine, McCloskey drove a golf cart over a bridge and into a waterfall at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. Playing in a school fundraiser, McCloskey hydro-planed her cart and flipped it, landing in the rocky pond on No. 17. Fortunately, she suffered only what she believed was a minor concussion and sprained ankle. She also lost a few articles of clothing along the way but managed to keep her pants on.
“I remember thinking ‘This is ...
CLEVELAND – Sometimes, Emily Tubert said, the best inspiration an athlete can have comes from outside her sport.
The gravity-defying twists of gymnasts half her size, for example, have made Tubert think twice about her level of commitment to the game of golf. When she looks at the singular focus of these Olympic athletes – an all-consuming, never-ending, tireless work ethic that’s put forth for the chance to shine once every four years – suddenly those breaks she takes when no one is watching seem downright lazy.
“Your window of opportunity is really small,” said Tubert, who will soon enter her third year at Arkansas. Tubert got a small glimpse of what it’s like to represent the U.S. overseas when she played on the Curtis Cup team last June. There were roughly 3,000 spectators per day in Scotland, barely a blip by Olympic standards.
Safe to say most golfers, the serious ones at least, are looking at this year’s Olympics differently than past years, with golf making its return in Brazil in 2016.
While the Olympic format for golf isn’t set in stone, they’re looking at two-person teams for each country. Tubert isn’t alone in ...
CLEVELAND – Lydia Ko tells a nightmarish story about getting out of San Francisco after the U.S. Girls’ Junior and finding her way to Ohio. Read: The New Zealander isn’t used to American airports, where long lines, canceled flights and frustrating layovers are the norm.
“That’s life,” Ko says eventually with a sigh. “You can’t always have a perfect flight. I guess it’s good getting experience in all areas.”
Perhaps Ohio wouldn’t be high on the list of stateside destinations for a 15-year-old making just her fourth trip to the U.S., but the past two weeks have been all about practicality for Ko. That and making friends.
After being told she couldn’t spend the weeks leading up to the U.S. Women’s Amateur honing her game at The Country Club, Ko has been holed up at nearby Stonewater Golf Club and Little Mountain Country Club. At night, she returns to her hotel room to watch crime dramas like CSI and surf Facebook. It’s a pretty choice life, even if it has been adventure-free. The only college campus Ko has visited during this trip to the U.S. is Stanford. To be ...
Breanna Elliott of Melbourne, Australia, defeated Princess Superal of Cavite, Philippines, 3 and 2, to win the Women’s Trans National Amateur on Saturday at the Members Club at Woodcreek Farms in Elgin, S.C.
Elliott beat Vanessa Koechli, 4 and 3, in Friday’s semifinals while Superal downed Rinko Mitsunaga, 3 and 2, to advance to the final.
Elliott’s semifinal win came after needing 20 holes to defeat Kelsey Vines in Thursday’s Round of 16.
• • •
ROUND OF 64
Whitney Hillier def. Maia Schechter, 2 and 1
Rinko Mitsunaga def. Melissa Edmonson, 3 and 1
Kate Scarpetta def. Meghan Stasi, 2 up
Sarah Jane Ababa def. Manuela Carbajo Re, 2 and 1
Regina Plasencia def. Courtney Ferguson, 3 and 2
Cyna Maria Rodriguez def. Rachel Wyatt, 7 and 5
Jayvie Marie Agojo def. Thuhashini Selvaratnam, 1 up
Tilly Poulsen def. Courtney Boe, 6 and 5
Haley Stephens def. Ann Alicia Malagon, 19 holes
Rika Park def. Emily Jane Gimpel, 2 and 1
Julie Yang def. Ashley Malaska, 3 and 2
Delfina Acosta def. Shannon Lubar, 2 up
Jessica Alexander def. Lovelynn Guioguio, 2 and 1
Kelly Shon def. Ellen Ceresko, withdrew
Princess Superal def. Kaitlin Matheson, 7 and ...
Ariya Jutanugarn continues to dominate fields across the world, this time winning the 99th Royale Cup Canadian Women's Amateur Championship by five shots at the Lethbridge Country Club.
Jutanugarn led from wire-to-wire, using a 1-over 73 on Friday to cap off a 14-under performance for the week.
She'll have bragging rights at home, beating older sister Moriya, who finished in second place at 9 under. Moriya shot a 4-under 68 on Friday to close the gap on Ariya.
Kimberly Kaufman finished in solo third at 6 under, while Angel Yin was fourth at 4 under.
With the win, Ariya receives an exemption into the 2012 CN Canadian Women's Open at the Vancouver Golf Club in late August.
Ariya is coming off a semifinal loss at the 2012 U.S. Girls' Junior, losing to eventual champion Minjee Lee.
There’s a recurring phenomenon in Tennessee women’s amateur golf that you might refer to as the Vanderbilt double. Three times in the past 10 summers, a Commodore has won the women's state amateur and the women's state open.
Senior Lauren Stratton last week became the latest.
“There’s some good history in this state golf-wise, and just getting my name on the trophy is pretty cool, let alone doing it in the same summer," she said. "It’s a real honor.”
Commodores sophomore Kendall Martindale accomplished the feat a year before Stratton, and Sarah Jacobs was the first, during the summer of 2003. Vanderbilt, a private school with about 13,000 students in Nashville, is far from the largest school in the state, as Stratton notes. It’s a big deal.
“By the time I picked up my phone, I had voicemails from Coach (Greg Allen) and my assistant coach (Holly Clark),” Stratton said of the Tennessee Women’s Open final round.
Stratton finished one shot ahead of LPGA player Mo Martin after posting 5-under 211 at Stonehenge Golf Club in Crossville. Stratton won the Tennessee Women’s Amateur after advancing through a match-play bracket that ...