By Christina Lance, USGA
NORMAN, Okla. – It’s déjà vu all over again on Tuesday at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship for a pair of University of Southern California standouts.
Picking right up from Monday, USC Trojan teammates Doris Chen and Annie Park each carded 4-under 68s for two-day totals of 8-under-par 136 and a share of medalist honors on Tuesday at the 6,351-yard, par-72 Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
Their scores of 136 – five strokes ahead of their nearest competitor, Casey Danielson – tie for the second-lowest 36-hole score in championship history, joining 2005 co-medalists Mari Chun and Angela Park at Swope Memorial Golf Course in Kansas City. The low score of 135 is shared by Brittany Lang (2004 at Golden Horseshoe Golf Course in Williamsburg, Va.) and Ariya Jutanugarn (2010 at The Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.).
The 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Saturday.
It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Chen got off to a rocky start with consecutive bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes, her first two holes of the day. She blamed a lack of sleep for the poor early performance, and told herself that she could pull things together.
“I keep telling myself that I will be fine,” said Chen, of Bradenton, Fla. “I'll be just as good. I was hitting fine and I just need to get my putting into the hole.”
That pep talk certainly worked. Chen recorded three consecutive birdies at holes 14-16, and when a double bogey at the par-4 17th threatened to stop her momentum, Chen rebounded with a birdie at the par-5 18th. Three more birdies over her inward nine brought her back to the top of the leader board.
When Chen heard that she was still tied with Park, the normally reserved 20-year-old erupted into laughter.
“I said ‘Oh my god’ because Annie is just firing at every tournament,” said Chen admiringly of her college teammate and now championship competition. “I'm just too impressed and not surprised at the same time.”
Park again cruised around the golf course, returning five birdies and one bogey for the second consecutive day. Her putting was her saving grace at the par-4 ninth, her final hole of the day, as she smoothly stroked a 15-foot putt to save par.
“[The course] just felt long,” said Park. “I was putting well, same as yesterday. Couldn't hit it straight, same as yesterday.”
Danielson’s even-par 72 put her in solo third at 3-under 141. Mariel Galdiano, tied for third following Monday’s first round, carded a 1-over 73 for a two-day total of 2-under 142. She sits tied for fourth with Oklahoma State University’s Julie Yang and defending champion Kyung Kim, the third USC player in the field.
Lucy Li became the youngest player in championship history to advance to match play, easily qualifying with rounds of 77-71. The 10-year-old from Redwood City, Calif., is seven days younger than Michelle Wie was in 2000, when she lost in the first round of match play.
Li’s final shot, a holeout from the right greenside bunker for birdie at the par-4 ninth, sparked a round of applause from the small gallery.
“From the moment I hit it, I knew it was going to go in because it was really straight,” said Li, who works with renowned golf instructor Jim McLean.
“She's at such a young age that she doesn't have any fear, so she just picks a target and commits to it, which is a fabulous thing,” said Chelsey Franklin, a Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club employee and former University of Oklahoma golfer who is caddieing for Li this week. “Hopefully it's a quality she's able to maintain throughout her entire golf career.”
Lacey Fears, a rising senior at Mercer University, made a hole-in-one at the 166-yard, par-3 second hole. It was the first ace recorded at the Women’s Amateur Public Links since Mary Matson’s at Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, Mass., in 2009.
Emily Tubert, winner of the 2010 championship, missed the cut, as did 2011 runner-up Marissa Dodd. Other notables to miss the cut include UCLA senior Ani Gulugian and Kristine Odaiyar, who reached the third round of the 2012 championship.
Christina Lance is the assistant manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at email@example.com.