Story written by USGA staff writer David Shefter
PUEBLO, CO, (June 21, 2006) -- Mina Harigae, 16, of Monterey, Calif., registered eight birdies during a 2-under-par round of 70 in windy conditions Wednesday afternoon at Walking Stick Golf Course to share stroke-play medalist honors at 7-under 137 with 20-year-old Hannah Jun of San Diego at the 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.
Jun, the first-round leader, could not quite match Tuesday’s 6-under 66 effort in posting a 1-under 71 Wednesday morning on the 6,263-yard, par-72 layout.
Fifteen players came back out Thursday morning to complete their second rounds after darkness halted play for the day on Wednesday at 8:24 p.m. Weather delays totaling 2 hours and 8 minutes caused two suspensions in the afternoon.
A 3-for-1 playoff was held Thursday, with Chelsey Collins, 18, of Louisville, Colo., posting a birdie at the first hole to edge Ryann O'Toole and Megan McChrystal. Collins faces Harigae at 11:30 a.m.
The first match will start at 9:30 a.m. The low 64 scorers qualified for match play, which continues through Sunday’s 36-hole championship match.
This was the second consecutive year players shared medalist honors. Mari Chun and Angela Park tied at 136 last year at Swope Memorial in Kansas City, Mo.
One stroke behind Harigae and June was Tiffany Joh, 19, of San Diego, who shot a 4-under 68 (138). The 68 tied for the best round of the day with 16-year-old Stephanie Kono of Honolulu, Hawaii, one of five players in the field to have qualified for next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Newport (R.I.) Country Club. Kono finished at 3-under 141, along with 19-year-old Allison Goodman of San Diego, who shot a 73 after a 68 on Tuesday.
Jenna Pearson, 20, of Wheaton, Ill., a quarterfinalist at the 2004 WAPL, shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 5-under 139.
Korean-born Glory Joo Young Yang, 18, of Murrieta, Calif., stands at 142 with Angela Oh, 17, of Maple Shade, N.J. Yang and Oh posted 70 and 72, respectively. Kelly Schaub, 26, of Greeley, Colo., one of eight players from the state in the field, used an eagle-3 at the fifth hole to shoot a 70 and is tied at 143 with Selanee Henderson of Apple Valley, Calif. (70-73).
Harigae, who had the only sub-par round among the afternoon wave of contestants, had a golden chance to overtake Jun but three-putted 17 for a bogey and then missed a 5-foot birdie putt at 18.
“The whole time I was just trying to think, ‘You have made all these putts before, it’s like putting with your eyes closed,’ ” said Harigae, an alternate for the 2006 USA Curtis Cup team and a semifinalist at the 2003 U.S. Girls’ Junior. “That’s what I do as a drill. It just didn’t happen. But that’s OK.”
At one point in her round, Harigae made five consecutive birdies from the par-3 12th, including a chip-in at the par-4 16th.
“I was pretty happy with today’s round,” said Harigae, who did not make a bogey in shooting 67 on Tuesday.
Jun, meanwhile, missed five months of golf this past season after fracturing the C-2 vertebra in her neck Dec. 10 in an automobile accident. It forced her to sit out much of the spring season at UCLA, but she returned for regionals and the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship in Columbus, Ohio. She was just happy to get done before the delays.
“It was about average today,” said Jun. “I hit both par-5s on the front [nine] and three-putted them both.”
A veteran of USGA competitions, Jun knows stroke-play scores won’t matter once match play commences on Thursday. Four years ago, she didn’t finish high in qualifying, but advanced all the way to the semifinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield, N.J., losing to eventual champion In-Bee Park in 21 holes.
“You take it day by day. Stroke play is over now,” said Jun, who needed five months to recover from the accident. The driver of the car, UCLA punter Justin Medlock, has pleaded not guilty to a felony driving under the influence charge. The accident occurred on a freeway off-ramp in Los Angeles.
“It’s just hole by hole,” continued Jun on the mindset for match play, “and it’s easier to forget if you make a triple [bogey] because you are only down one [hole] instead of five [strokes]. So it’s not too bad.”
Joh took advantage of calmer morning conditions to register an eagle, four birdies against two bogeys. Her 3 on the par-5 fifth came after her 19-degree rescue club approach stopped 20 feet from the flagstick on the fringe. She was coming off a birdie at the par-5 fourth and then proceeded to birdie the par-3 sixth, holing a 50-footer.
“I made a putt across Colorado,” said Joh, who will be a sophomore this fall at UCLA. “You really can’t expect to make a ton of putts on this course. The greens are so undulated and there are so many tiers and slopes that you pretty much have to … hit [the putt] and pray to Jesus, Allah or Buddha.”
Joh would like to improve upon her round-of-32 finish at last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur when she lost to 2006 USA Curtis Cupper Jenny Suh. She has never advanced to the third round in any of her USGA appearances.
“It’s just nice to string two solid rounds together again,” said Joh, who struggled at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship and failed in her attempt to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. “I’ll take the 68 and run. As long as I am not playing Hannah [in the first round], I’ll be a happy camper.”
Pearson also will be seeded high after posting her second consecutive sub-par round. She had a solid, but unspectacular junior season at the University of South Carolina, posting two top-10 finishes, but she and her team failed to qualify for the NCAAs. She had six birdies and three bogeys in her round, including a 40-footer at the par-3 12th that started a stretch of three consecutive birdies.
“I played yesterday in the afternoon, so it was a lot less windy out there this morning,” said Pearson, who is competing in her seventh USGA championship. “It was playing a little bit easier.”
Kono posted a 3-under 33 on the back nine – she started on 10 – and then birdied the first hole before coasting home with eight consecutive pars. She finished at 3-under 141, safely inside the cut for match play. The 68 was four strokes off her personal best of 64, shot in the first round of the Hawaii state high school tournament this past season.
“Yesterday I drove the ball really well and it didn’t seem like I missed any fairways, but I didn’t shoot that well (73),” said Kono, a high school classmate at Punahou with Michelle Wie. “It was kind of disappointing because where I was in the fairway I should have had a better score.”
The WAPL is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
For complete match tree, click on the tournament link above.