USGA Girl's Junior: Medalist Rolls Into Quarters

Charlotte, N.C. (July 20, 2006) – Machine-like and inspired, 16-year-old medalist Mina Harigae of Monterey, Calif., continued her quest to win her first Girls’ Junior by trumping Sara Hurwitch, 17, of Potomac Falls, Va., 5 and 4, in Thursday’s third-round match.

Harigae advanced to the quarterfinal round for the second time in four attempts. She made the semifinals in 2003. On Thursday, in hazy and humid conditions, Harigae remained poised, methodically working her way around the 6,396-yard, par-72 Carmel Country Club South Course. She constructed a 4-up lead through the first seven holes, ending the match equivalent to 3 under par. She is attempting to become the third medalist in the past five years to win the event.

Tanya Wadhwa, hitting off the fifth tee Thursday, moved to the U.S. from India when she was 9 years old. (Christopher Record/USGA)

In three matches Harigae, the four-time California Women’s Amateur champion, has dominated. She has trailed a total of two holes and carded just one bogey to the tune of 7 under par. What’s more, no match has gone beyond the 15th hole. Earlier in the week, Harigae credited her coach with making an adjustment to her swing. A victory would mean a new car from her mother.

“I want a truck,” said Harigae laughing after defeating Hurwitch. She then turned serious after being asked how much it helps to craft huge leads.

“I think it’s a big advantage,” she said. “It is. There’s always a chance that they can come back. It’s a buffer.”

A deflated Hurwitch knew how difficult a task she had. Her three bogeys led to losses on three holes.

“She’s the best junior player in the country and it’s hard to keep up with her,” said Hurwitch. “I played as good as I could. I just made too many mistakes.”

In a battle of two players who competed in this year’s Women’s Open, 15-year-old Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., outlasted fellow 15-year-old Jane Rah, from Torrance, Calif., 2 and 1. Hurst assembled a 3-up lead through the first nine holes and finished 5 under par. Rah wasn’t too shabby, either, carding the equivalent of 2 under. Hurst drained a 20-footer on the third hole that gave her confidence.

“Now it’s a name instead of the second round or third round,” said Hurst, who had to complete her second-round match in the morning and then eliminated Rah with a 4-foot putt on No. 16. “It’s the ‘quarterfinal’ round now, so I guess that’s kind of cool.”

Said Rah: “I didn’t give up. That’s the main thing. I kept trying to keep the pressure on.”

That’s what 14-year-old Isabelle Lendl of Goshen, Conn., tried to do against Tanya Wadhwa, 13, of India. Lendl chipped in from 30 feet to save par on No. 17, keeping the match all square. On the final hole, Lendl’s approach shot from 85 yards out went over the green. After the chip on, and two-putt from 26 feet, Wadhwa needed only to two-putt from 16 feet to win.

“I saw her in the rough and thought, ‘Anything can happen,’ after she chipped in on 17,” said Wadhwa of the 18th hole.

Wadhwa moved to the U.S. when she was 9 so that she could face better competition. Most girls in India take up badminton. While playing with her brother in New Delhi, India, it wasn’t uncommon to find cobras and tigers in the rough. Her goal is “to get to the round of eight so I don’t have to qualify next year,” she said.

Alexandria Bodemann, 17, of Palm City, Fla., kept her momentum going by eliminating 17-year-old Kate Scarpetta of Moosic, Pa., 3 and 2. Bodemann, coming off a win at last week’s Western Junior, denied Maria Jose Uribe, 16, of Colombia earlier in the day in extra holes.

Bodemann tried qualifying, unsuccessfully, for the Girls’ Junior the past three years. Now she’s in the quarterfinals.

“It was a good warm-up,” she said of her Western Junior win. “Match play is more of a game than stroke play. You have to master every shot.”

Mina Harigae had reason to smile after winning another match early on Thursday. (Christopher Record/USGA)

In a third-round upset, 17-year-old Ellen Mueller of Evansville, Ind., knocked off Esther Choe, 16, of Scottsdale, Ariz., 2 and 1.

Beating Choe “is a confidence booster," said Mueller. "It makes me think that I can go out and beat anyone.”

Stephanie Kono, 16, of Honolulu, Hawaii, narrowly got by 17-year-old Cydney Clanton of Concord, N.C., in 19 holes. Clanton missed a 5-footer on the 18th hole for the victory.

"I didn’t have a real advantage on any hole," said Kono. "Every time I went one up, she would come back."

Other winners were 13-year-old Jenny Shin of Torrance, Calif., and 15-year-old Michelle Shin of Cape Coral, Fla. It'll be a Shin versus Shin match on Friday. The two aren't related and just met this week.

“She’s like my little sister,” said Michelle Shin.

The championship continues Friday with the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. The quarterfinals will begin at 7 a.m., with the first semifinal match scheduled for 12:15 p.m. The 36-hole final will be held Saturday.

The U.S. Girls’ Junior is one of 10 national championships for amateurs conducted annually by the USGA. The Association also conducts the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and the U.S. Senior Open.

Story written by Ken Klavon, USGA Web Editor. E-mail him with questions or comments at kklavon@usga.org.

* * * *

Charlotte, N.C. – Results from the third round of match play Thursday at the 2006 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at the 6,396-yard, par-72 Carmel Country Club:

Round Of 16
Mina Harigae, Monterey, Calif. def. Sara Hurwitch, Potomac Falls, Va. 5 and 4
Stephanie Kono, Honolulu, Hawaii def. Cydney Clanton, Concord, N.C. 19 holes
Vicky Hurst, Melbourne, Fla. def. Jane Rah, Torrance, Calif. 2 and 1
Tanya Wadhwa, India def. Isabelle Lendl, Bradenton, Fla. 1 up
Alexandra Bodemann, Palm City, Fla. def. Kate Scarpetta, Moosic, Pa. 3 and 2
Ellen Mueller, Evansville, Ind. def. Esther Choe, Scottsdale, Ariz. 2 and 1
Jenny Shin, Torrance, Calif. def. Lindy Duncan, Plantation, Fla. 1 up
Michelle Shin, Cape Coral, Fla. def. Sally Watson, Scotland 1 up

Quarterfinal Pairings
7 a.m. -- Mina Harigae, Monterey, Calif. ; Stephanie Kono, Honolulu, Hawaii
7:15 a.m. -- Vicky Hurst, Melbourne, Fla. ; Tanya Wadhwa, India
7:30 a.m. -- Alexandra Bodemann, Palm City, Fla. ; Ellen Mueller, Evansville, Ind.
7:45 a.m. -- Jenny Shin, Torrance, Calif. ; Michelle Shin, Cape Coral, Fla.

Semifinal Schedule
12:15 p.m. - First semifinal match
12:30 p.m. - Second semifinal match

ABOUT THE U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur

The Girls Junior Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the USGA. The event is open to female golfers who have not reached their 18th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 18.4. 36 hole stroke play qualifying from which 64 players advance to match play. Regional qualifying held at sites around the United States.

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