U.S. Women's Amateur: Albane Valenzuela, Gabriela Ruffels advance to final

USGA/Steven Gibbons

U.S. Women's Amateur: Albane Valenzuela, Gabriela Ruffels advance to final

Amateur

U.S. Women's Amateur: Albane Valenzuela, Gabriela Ruffels advance to final

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Even though she lost to Albane Valenzuela in 19 holes, the talk of the semifinal round at the U.S. Women’s Amateur was Megha Ganne.

The youngest player in the field by four years, No. 48-seed Ganne fell behind No. 13-seed Valenzuela early, but won the sixth, ninth and 14th holes to keep the Stanford senior from Geneva, Switzerland, on her toes at every hole at Old Waverly Golf Club.

Coming off an eagle at 14 which Valenzuela referred to as the “turning point of the match,” Ganne proved her resiliency on the 15th hole when her second shot bounced on a sidewalk and landed behind a tree off the fairway while Valenzuela’s landed on the fairway. Ganne’s third stroke from the woodchips under the tree rolled less than two feet from the hole to make a birdie putt with the next stroke and tie the match.

MORE: U.S. Women’s Amateur scores | Photo gallery

Megha Ganne during the semifinal round at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss. Photo: USGA/Steven Gibbons

“A win’s a win, you know,” Valenzuela said. “I didn’t play my best game today. I missed some shots out there but I just knew I had to stick to my game plan, eventually it would fall and it fell in a playoff the one putt I really struck well. It was a tough match. (Ganne’s) a really great competitor. She has an amazing composure for a 15-year-old and she made me work hard but that’s what you get for semis”.

Valenzuela regained her lead with a birdie on 17, but unable to make par after her second stroke landed in the the rough beside the green, Ganne, from Holdmdel, N.J., won 18 with a birdie putt to force extra holes.

Valenzuela made a birdie putt on 19, a hole she refused to lose in her mind.

“I told myself ‘Do not regret this. Do not let it slip out of your hands. You have control over it,’ and you know, even when you start feeling a little nervous you go, ‘I want this,'” Valenzuela said. ‘I wanted to go to the finals and I knew that’s what I need to do to go to the finals is a make birdie.”

Lee vs. Ruffels

Her putter was hot Friday against Lucy Li, but No. 15-seed Andrea Lee struggled in the semifinal round until the very end.

The Stanford senior from Hermosa Beach, Calif., was eliminated by No. 6 Gabriela Ruffels 2 up after she failed to make a birdie until the 14th hole. Lee, the only semifinalist to make the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open in June, led briefly after Ruffels bogeyed the second hole, but Ruffels quickly found her footing and took off.

Ruffels, from Australia, took the lead with birdie putt on No. 6 and never looked back and had the opportunity to seal the win with a birdie putt on 17, but won with a par on 18 after Lee made a vital putt to extend the match on 17.

Gabriela Ruffels competes in the semifinals at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss. Photo: USGA

“I was actually kind of surprised (at her play) early,” Ruffels said. “I knew she didn’t have her best up today, but I knew that she’s clutch and that she’s going to come in pretty strong and 17 I knew she was going to make that putt.

“She does that stuff and I knew I just kind of had to keep calm, keep my head down and stay patient.”

Championship match

Ruffels and Valenzuela will face off for the 36-hole championship in an all-international final at 8:30 a.m. ET on Sunday. The second 18 holes will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET after a brief afternoon break.

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