By Julie Williams, Golfweek
CHARLESTON, S.C. – A key to Yumi Matsubara’s bogey-free 64 on Friday was in Andrew Shaw’s pocket. Shaw, a 27-year-old local caddie, had to figure out how to communicate with a player who speaks no English, and quickly. He and Matsubara, of Japan, resorted to pen and paper.
As the first fat raindrops fell from a hazy sky on Tuesday, Shaw opened up his yardage book to reveal a bright yellow pin sheet. Beside each hole, Shaw had written the yardages to the front, middle and back of the green.
Shaw, however, joked that that hardly mattered.
“I feel like I could give her any club from any distance out there and she would stick it to 10 feet,” Shaw said. He was pulled over from nearby Daniel Island Club when a golf professional at the Country Club of Charleston said he had a phenomenal 14-year-old in mind.
On Tuesday, said phenom set a new USGA record in her first U.S. Women’s Amateur start and second trip to the United States (the first was for a qualifier in California). Matsubara, 14, shot a bogey-free, 7-under 64, which is the lowest score in championship history. It breaks Rachel Rohanna’s 65 from the 2011 Women’s Amateur in Charlotte, N.C.
Matsubara’s 7-under 135 total ties the 36-hole record Courtney (Swaim) Trimble set in 2002. It also left Matsubara five shots ahead of runners-up Allisen Corpuz, Emma Talley and Yueer Cindy Feng.
“I wasn’t even thinking about the championship record, but it feels very good,” Matsubara said through translator June Nagashima, the director of player development and international affairs for the Japan Golf Association. Nagashima is traveling with Matsubara and another Japanese player, Kotone Hori.
Hori, who shot 68 on Tuesday to tie for fourth, qualified for this championship with a top-8 finish at the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in October. Matsubara, also a member of the Japan National Team, was selected by the Japan Golf Association to attempt qualifying for the Women’s Amateur. She shot 75 at Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland, Calif., to earn one of eight spots from that qualifier.
Matsubara’s 7-under total ties her personal best. She has twice posted 7-under 65s in competition back home in Japan, so the 64 is her lowest overall score. This time, it helped her secure the No. 1 spot on the match-play bracket. Matsubara has only played match play twice before, too – both times at the Japan Women’s Amateur.
After seven birdies on Tuesday, the Country Club of Charleston seems to set up well for Matsubara.
“The golf course is a beautiful landscape and it’s wide so it was good for me,” she said.
As for Matsubara’s introduction to Charleston, a culinary hot-spot, the food also has been nice. Asked her first impression of the city and the U.S. in general, Matsubara said she liked the hamburgers.
It seems fitting fare to celebrate a USGA record.