TULSA, Okla. — Sophie Liu shot a 4-under-par 66 to hold the clubhouse lead following Monday’s first round of stroke-play qualifying in the 2015 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at Tulsa Country Club. In her USGA championship debut, the 16-year-old from Canada returned a round of seven birdies, including five straight on holes 10 through 14, on the 6,076-yard, par-70 A.W. Tillinghast design.
“I wasn’t thinking about making birdies, but I kept getting it close and giving myself chances,” said Liu, who currently resides in Melbourne, Fla., and started playing golf just three years ago when her family moved into a house adjacent to a golf course. “I feel so fortunate to be here. Playing in this championship was a goal of mine this year.”
After a two-hour and 40-minute severe-weather suspension that ended at 6:45 p.m., play was suspended for the day at 8:38 p.m. due to darkness with 12 players remaining on the course. Play will resume as scheduled at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, with the remaining players finishing their first rounds prior to beginning their second rounds.
One of those 12 players is 2014 Girls’ Junior quarterfinalist Andrea Lee, who sits at 4 under through 17 holes. Lee, 16, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., arrived at Tulsa Country Club a little more than an hour before her 1:50 p.m. tee time after winning a silver medal at the Pan American Games Sunday in Toronto, Canada. It was the first time that golf has appeared in that event, which is a precursor to next year’s Summer Olympics.
“Even if it was cutting it close, I wanted to play in both events,” said Lee, who finished second to LPGA player and 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Mariajo Uribe at the PanAm Games. “They’re both special and they’re both big championships. And some day, I really want to win one of these U.S. Girls’ Junior Championships.”
Jaravee Boonchant, Muni He and Megan Khang, who fully completed their rounds, sit one stroke back at 3-under 67.
He and Khang are two of eight players in the field who competed in the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this month. Both made the cut at Lancaster Country Club, and Khang, who is playing in her record-tying seventh U.S. Girls’ Junior, earned low-amateur honors.
“I’m bringing a lot of patience from my Women’s Open experience,” said Khang, 17, of Rockland, Mass., who carded five birdies to only two bogeys on Monday. “You can’t start every day with a birdie, so you just have to wait for them to come. Luckily, they came quite early for me today.”
He, 16, who was born in the People’s Republic of China and currently resides in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., added: “I learned so much from the Women’s Open – a lot about course management and the mental game as well. My goal is to take what I learned from the U.S. Women’s Open, and, hopefully, I can apply it to my game and try to do my best every day that I’m here.” He returned five birdies on Monday, with her only blemish coming when she double-bogeyed the par-5 third hole.
Mika Liu, who captured the inaugural 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in May with her partner Rinko Mitsunaga, had the lowest score of the field's three USGA champions. Liu, 16, of Beverly Hills, Calif., carded two birdies and three bogeys en route to a 1-over 71 and a tie for 18th.
Kristen Gillman, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, also reached Tulsa this morning after competing in the Pan American Games, where she finished sixth in the women’s golf competition. Gillman, 17, of Austin, Texas, sits at 3 over par through 17 holes, with the par-3 ninth (her 18th hole) left to finish on Tuesday morning.
Fumie (Alice) Jo, who in 2014 became the final winner in U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links history, ended with a birdie on the par-4 18th. However, the 16-year-old from the People’s Republic of China struggled overall, shooting 7-over 77 and sitting T112.
Mariel Galdiano, of Pearl City, Hawaii, and Hannah O’Sullivan, of Chandler, Ariz., joined Khang and He as amateurs to complete 72 holes at the U.S. Women’s Open. Galdiano is tied for 18th at 1-over 71, while O’Sullivan, runner-up at May’s Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, finished at 3-over 73 and a tie for 41st.
The 2015 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship is open to female amateur golfers under the age of 18. It consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Saturday, July 25.
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