RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Albane Valenzuela headlines a foursome of amateurs who will play the weekend at the ANA Inspiration. The Stanford sophomore set a 36-hole record on Friday with her score of 6-under 138, besting the record of 141 set by Michelle Wie (2004) and Angela Park (2006). The Swiss Olympian is tied for eighth place after a second-round 71.
“There are still two rounds to play,” said Valenzuela, “so no one will remember what happened after two rounds. People remember after four.”
Rose Zhang, who won the ANA Junior Inspiration on Sunday to earn her spot, sits in a tie for 34th with Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul at 2 under. The 15-year-old Thitikul became the youngest winner on the Ladies European Tour last season when she claimed the Thailand Championship at age 14. She tied for eighth at the HSBC Women’s World Championship earlier this month.
Rounding out the foursome is UCLA’s Lilia Vu, one of the hottest players in college golf having won her last four events. Vu shot 73-70.
Lucy Li, the only amateur to make the cut last year, missed the cut by one.
Valenzuela had reached 7 under before being put on the clock coming off the tee on the par-4 sixth. She bogeyed that hole and then rushed her tee shot on the seventh, missing it left in the trees. Another bogey dropped the 20-year-old to 5 under.
“So that definitely stopped my momentum,” said Valenzuela. “But it happens in golf. I still bounced back fairly well, so it’s fine.”
The bounce-back came on the par-3 eighth when she made birdie and then ran off the green. She did the same thing on that three-hole stretch two years ago at the ANA when she made the cut. Her showing in the desert was a huge catalyst to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Valenzuela, a political science major at Stanford with a 3.97 GPA, was scheduled to compete here again last year but was badly injured in a bike accident on Stanford’s campus the day before she was scheduled to leave for Mission Hills and was forced to withdraw.
“Definitely very grateful to have the opportunity,” said Valenzuela. “It’s really hard for amateurs to get exemptions, and there are so many great players that could have come here this week.”