By Christina Lance
CHARLESTON, S.C. (August 10, 2013) – Yueer Cindy Feng, of Orlando, Fla., and Emma Talley, of Princeton, Ky., won their Saturday semifinal matches and will meet in Sunday’s 36-hole final of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the 6,488-yard Country Club of Charleston.
Feng, 17, advanced with a 3-and-2 victory over 2010 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Doris Chen, 20, of Chinese Taipei. Talley, 19, squandered a 4-up lead over 2012 Girls’ Junior runner-up Alison Lee, 18, of Valencia, Calif., but eked out a 1-up win.
Feng rolled with seeming ease over Chen, taking the first hole with a par-4 and never trailing on her road to victory. But Feng, who moved to the United States from her native People’s Republic of China at age 9, was not overly enthusiastic about her even-par performance.
“It just felt like it was going to be one of those days where you have to grind it out and just stay patient,” said Feng, who works with noted instructor Sean Foley. “I managed to do that.”
Feng’s patience was rewarded with the opportunity to vie for the coveted Robert Cox Trophy, which is awarded annually to the Women’s Amateur champion.
“I really can't believe it,” said Feng, who this week eliminated two members of the University of Southern California’s NCAA championship-winning team in Chen and Annie Park. “It's such a big tournament and I'm actually in the final.”
Talley looked like she was also on her way to a convincing victory, winning holes 2-5 for a solid 4-up lead over Lee, an incoming freshman at UCLA. Lee was also struggling with a persistent nosebleed that began on the third hole and required a brief medical stoppage prior to heading to the fourth tee.
“We’re friends, so I was like, oh that’s just the worst timing,” said Talley, a rising sophomore at the University of Alabama. “That’s just hard and I felt so bad for her, but she just took it really well.”
With Lee’s literal bleeding stopped, she proceeded to stop the bleeding in the match. Talley opened the door with bogey-5s at the seventh and eighth holes to cut her lead to 2 up. However, Talley’s clutch birdie at the par-4 ninth gave her a 3-up lead that she carried to the inward nine.
Talley knew that with such a talented opponent, no lead was safe.
“I knew even when I was 4 up that it was not over at all,” said Talley, whose previous best Women’s Amateur finish was a second-round loss in 2011. “She’s a great player and you never know what’s going to happen.”
What happened next was a Lee run of winning holes at 14-16 that brought the match back to all square. Talley won the par-3 17th with a par to regain the lead heading to the par-4 18th.
“After I hit my tee shot, I looked at my dad (Dan Talley, her caddie) and said, ‘I feel like I’m about to (throw up),’” said Talley, who earned second-team All-American honors for the 2012-13 season. With both players hitting their approaches short of the green, Talley belied her nervousness by smoothly stroking her 58-degree wedge chip to within a foot for a conceded par and the victory.
“My putter’s hot right now and that's what you have to have to get in the finals,” said Talley, who called her week in Charleston a blessed experience. “No matter what happens tomorrow, I’m really excited and it’s been a great experience so far.”