Story written by USGA staff writer David Shefter
PUEBLO, CO (June 23, 2006) -- One medalist advanced, but another was not so fortunate.
While Mina Harigae, 16, of Monterey, Calif., needed only 12 holes to reach the third round, 20-year-old Hannah Jun of San Diego, Calif., dropped a tough 19-hole decision to Sara Brown, 20, of Tucson, Ariz., on Friday at the 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship being held at the 6,263-yard, par-72 Walking Stick Golf Course.
Harigae barely broke a sweat – and didn’t record a bogey – in eliminating 2005 WAPL co-medalist Mari Chun, 18, of Pearl City, Hawaii, 7 and 6. She faced Morgan Grantham of Kingman, Ariz., in a third-round match Friday afternoon.
Jun, who was fractured the C-2 vertebra in her neck in a car accident Dec. 10 and missed most of UCLA’s spring season, had a 3-up lead with six holes to play. But the gritty Brown, a junior-to-be at Michigan State, rallied by winning three of the next four holes to square the match. At 18, each player’s approach shots stopped 5 feet from the flag, and when both made their birdie putts, it was off to the first tee.
Each hit big drives, but Jun’s approach shot rolled past the flag and into the fringe behind the green. Taking notice of the firm green, Brown perfectly executed a 57-yard pitch and run with her 60-degree wedge and watched the ball stop inches short of the hole for a conceded birdie. Jun’s pitch attempt to continue the match barely came up short.
“What are you going to do in match play?” said Jun when asked about going out in the second round. “I played well in stroke play and that’s all you can do. That’s the worst part about these summer [amateur] tournaments is that you can be playing well and not get to stay any longer.”
For the first time in any USGA event, Brown will be around longer than the second round. Four years ago at the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Echo Lake Country Club in Westfield, N.J., she lost to eventual winner In-Bee Park in the first round, 7 and 5.
“I said it was the most intense, fun round I have ever played in match play ever,” said an excited Brown. “Hannah is my good friend and it was just fun to play with her. It just makes me feel good that I got to play with someone that good and I was able to beat her.”
Brown turned the match around with a sterling bunker shot at the par-5 13th, knocking her third shot to 4 feet for a birdie. At 14, her wedge approach stopped 12 feet above the flag and she converted the putt to cut the deficit to 1. After both players reached the par-5 15th in two and made birdie, Brown got up and down for par from 10 feet at 16, while Jun three-putted to square the match.
It remained that way until the 19th hole. At the clubhouse, Brown, who faces Korean Kyu Ri Ban in the third round Friday afternoon, was greeted by well-wishers, including Tiffany Chudy, who jumped into Brown’s arms.
Chudy, the 2005 WAPL runner-up, also had a reason to celebrate. The 20-year-old from Miramar, Fla., played a sizzling match against 19-year-old Allison Goodman of San Diego. Each competitor was the equivalent of 1-under-par 71, with the usual match-play concessions, but Chudy’s 15-foot birdie at the par-3 17th proved to be the difference in a hard-fought 1-up victory.
“Not bad,” said Chudy about her round. “When you can shoot under par to win a match, you can walk away and say you played well. I’m happy with the way it went. I told my dad this morning that as long as I shoot par, if she beats me she deserves it because she would have to shoot under par.”
Just how good was the match? Each player holed 30-foot birdie putts on 10 to halve the hole. Goodman nearly forced extra holes, but her 35-foot birdie try at 18 just burned the edge of the hole. Chudy drained her 4-footer for par to seal it.
“I am happy with how I played, but match play unfortunately someone has to lose,” said Goodman, who was the No. 5 qualifier out of stroke play. “[Tiffany’s] a great player, so it was a good day. It was fun.”
Chudy had a nice following of supporters, which included her host family for the week, Dave and Carol Lange, who have hung a banner on the porch of their home just a stone’s throw from the green at 17.
“It’s great,” said Chudy, who faces Ashley Sholer of Canada in round three. “It’s always nice when you have fans out there.”
Also moving on was 2004 WAPL champion Ya-Ni Tseng, 17, of Chinese Taipei, and 2006 U.S. Women’s Open qualifiers Kimberly Kim, 14, of Hilo, Hawaii, Stephanie Kono, 16, of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Maria Jose Uribe, 16, of Colombia. Tseng, also an ’06 Women’s Open qualifier, defeated Lauren Hunt of Little River, S.C., 3 and 2, while Kim ousted the last remaining Colorado golfer, Kelly Schaub of Greeley, 4 and 3. Schaub, at 26, was the oldest player in the match-play draw.
Kono rallied to defeat Karla Murra of Sioux Falls, S.D., 4 and 3, and Uribe knocked out 16-year-old Nara Shin of Chula Vista, Calif., 2 and 1. Third-seeded Tiffany Joh, 19, of San Diego, Calif., eliminated Amanda Costner of Claremore, Okla., 5 and 4, while Selanee Henderson, 19, of Apple Valley, Calif., cruised 6 and 5 over Diane Kwon of Fremont, Calif. Jenna Pearson of Wheaton, Ill., knocked out the last 13-year-old in the field, Veronica Valerio of Temecula, Calif., 3 and 1. Pearson is the No. 5 seed.
For complete match play results, click on the tournament link above.