By Christina Lance, USGA
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Doris Chen, Yueer Cindy Feng, Alison Lee and Emma Talley have reached the semifinals of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,488-yard Country Club of Charleston.
Chen, 20, of Chinese Taipei, eliminated 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Lauren Diaz-Yi, 18, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., by a 4-and-3 margin. Feng, 17, of Orlando, Fla., advanced with a 6-and-4 win over 2013 NCAA champion Annie Park, 18, of Levittown, N.Y.
Lee, 18, of Valencia, Calif., runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior, took a 4-and-3 win over Katelyn Sepmoree, 22, of Tyler, Texas, while Talley, 19, of Princeton, Ky., needed 19 holes to eliminate World No. 2 Su-Hyun Oh, 17, of Australia.
Saturday’s semifinals will feature four well-seasoned USGA competitors. Chen, Feng, Lee and Talley have played in a combined 47 USGA championships, including 11 U.S. Women’s Opens.
The morning’s first match featured a rematch of June’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links (WAPL) final, in which Diaz-Yi earned a commanding 10-and-9 victory over Chen, the 2010 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. When Chen bogeyed the first hole to fall 1 down, it looked like déjà vu all over again.
“I hit a great shot, but I was just a little bit careless about the yardage,” said Chen, a rising junior at the University of Southern California. With a resolve to think more carefully, Chen squared the match with a par-4 at the second hole.
That early 1-up lead turned out to be Diaz-Yi’s only advantage of the match. Chen squared the match on the next hole and then carded three straight wins on holes 7-9, including birdies at Nos. 7 and 9, and rolled to a 4-and-3 victory.
Today’s result was a far cry from Chen’s WAPL performance, where she carded a disappointing 13-over par, with the usual match-play concessions.
“I did pretty well,” said Chen. “I just changed my practice approach a bit. I’m happy it worked out.”
Like Chen, Feng dropped her first hole with a bogey for an immediate deficit. And again, like Chen, she won the second with par. After splitting the next four holes with Park, Feng went on a tear, winning five consecutive holes for a commanding 5-up lead.
“I think that was more a turning point for [Annie] than me, because she was holding it together on the first few holes,” said Feng, the runner-up at last month’s North & South Women’s Championship. “I was playing well, but she didn’t really keep it together anymore.”
Park’s bogey-5 at the 14th sealed the 6-and-4 victory for Feng. This marks the furthest Feng has ever advanced in a USGA championship, having previously reached the quarterfinals at the 2012 and 2013 Girls’ Juniors.
Lee took an immediate 1-up lead over Sepmoree with a birdie at the par-4 first hole. Sparked by a 75-yard hole-out for eagle-3 at the par-5 ninth, the incoming UCLA freshman never trailed en route to victory.
“I felt really confident,” said Lee of her eagle, which elicited a big round of applause from the gallery. “I just hit a really good shot.”
Lee entered the championship following a successful summer season. She has taken three American Junior Golf Association victories since June, including the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the Rolex Tournament of Champions, and was recently named to the 2013 USA Junior Solheim Cup Team. It comes as no surprise that Lee says she’s playing some of the best golf of her life.
“I feel really confident with my game right now,” said Lee. “I trusted my swing and trusted my shots and just played with confidence. I played my own game.”
Talley and Oh waged the afternoon’s toughest battle. Talley carried a 1-up lead to the inward nine, but Oh, a member of Golf Australia’s National Squad, squared the match with a birdie at the par-4 10th. Oh then took a 1-up lead when Talley bogeyed the course’s notoriously difficult par-3 11th.
“She made a turnaround and stole the momentum,” said Talley, whose previous best Women's Amateur result was a second-round loss in 2011.
But Oh’s momentum was short-lived, as she bogeyed the par-4 14th to bring the match back to all square. After Oh left her birdie attempt at No. 18 just inches short, Talley drained a 4-footer to send the match to extra holes.
On the 10th hole, the first hole of sudden death, Oh faced a 4-footer for par, but a heartbreaking lip-out gave Talley the victory.
All eight quarterfinalists are fully exempt into the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur, which will be played at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y. Chen, Feng, Lee and Talley are also exempt into the 2015 championship, to be held at Portland (Ore.) Golf Club. The winner and runner-up will each receive exemptions into the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort and Country Club, provided they remain amateurs.