PORTLAND, Ore. — In a day of upsets, both stroke-play medalists were eliminated during Wednesday’s Round of 64 in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,360-yard, par-72 Portland Golf Club. Justine Dreher, who survived a 16-for-10 playoff to earn the 64th seed in the match-play bracket, took a 5-and-4 win over No. 1 seed Angel Yin, while Vanessa Ha, another playoff survivor, rolled to a 4-and-3 victory over No. 2 seed Jennifer Hahn.
Dreher, a native of France who at age 23 is the oldest player remaining in the championship, won the par-4 second hole for a 1-up lead and never looked back. She built a 5-up lead through nine holes, an insurmountable advantage over Yin, 15, of Arcadia, Calif.
“I putted really, really well,” said Dreher, who completed her eligibility at the University of South Carolina in May. “I didn't miss any 10-footer or less besides hole No. 3, and I had a lot of them.”
Dreher arrived in Portland less than 12 hours before her Monday tee time after competing in Stage I of the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament. After two days of admitted struggles during stroke play after having never seen the course, as well as the disappointment of not advancing to Stage II, Dreher knew she needed to turn things around, especially mentally.
“The last 48 hours [were] really tough for me, since Q School, so I knew going into today, I have nothing to lose,” said Dreher, who pointed to countrywoman and caddie Shannon Aubert as a calming presence. “I had to force myself to let it go, so I think it was really good for me to play against the No. 1 seed.”
Ha, 19, of Plano, Texas, took a commanding 4-up lead over Hahn, 21, of Henderson, Nev., after winning holes 4-7 with three birdies. As with Dreher, Ha pointed to a reinvigorated mental game – and a hot hand with her putter – as a key aspect of her Wednesday success.
“I was focusing mostly on my mental game, and that's the biggest indicator for my putting,” said Ha, a sophomore at the University of San Francisco. “The key was that I wasn't focusing on trying to make the birdies. They just went in.”
In yet another upset, Lydia Choi, 18, of Beverly Hills, Calif., earned a 1-up victory over No. 3 seed Nelly Korda, 17, of Bradenton, Fla. Choi, a sophomore at UCLA, pointed to her win on the par-5 15th that squared the match as the thing that turned momentum in her favor.
“That was the turning point of when I started hitting my drives well,” said Choi, who won the par-3 17th for the final 1-up advantage. “She hit her drive to the right, so I think it just gave me a little bit more comfort.”
Gaby Lopez was one of six players to post Round-of-64 wins after surviving a 16-for-10 playoff for the final match-play spots. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)Korda’s older sister, Jessica, an LPGA Tour star and the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up, was in the gallery, as the LPGA Tour is in Portland this week for the Cambia Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.
Eun Jeong Seong, who two weeks ago captured the 2015 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship over Yin, trailed early and needed all 18 holes for a hard-fought 1-up win over Duke University standout Celine Boutier. Seong, 15, of the Republic of Korea, will face a familiar opponent in Thursday’s Round of 32 – 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Alice Jo, who beat Seong in that final match. Jo, 16, of Clermont, Fla., advanced with a 2-and-1 win over Muni He.
Hannah O’Sullivan, a 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinalist, notched Wednesday’s fastest victory, taking a 7-and-6 win over Haley Mills. She will meet Dreher in Thursday’s Round of 32.
Bronte Law, at No. 2 the championship’s highest-ranked player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, eliminated Canadian National Team member Maddie Szeryk, 3 and 2. Her next opponent will be University of Arkansas senior Gaby Lopez, who earned a 5-and-3 win over Samantha Wagner.
Mariah Stackhouse, a member of the 2014 USA Curtis Cup Team, three-putted the 18th green and fell by a 1-up margin to Elizabeth Wang.
Other notables to reach Thursday’s Round of 32 include 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman (2 up over Kelly Su); local favorite Caroline Inglis, an Oregon native and a senior at the University of Oregon (1 up over Alice Chen); 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball co-champion Mika Liu (19 holes over Lauren Kim); and 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur medalist Bethany Wu (2 and 1 over Emilie Alonso).
The 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is open to female amateur golfers with a Handicap Index® not exceeding 5.4. 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 Sunday, Aug. 16.
The match-play rounds of the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Coverage will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT every day through Sunday, Aug. 16. Additionally, bonus coverage will be streamed live on usga.org on Aug. 13 and Aug. 16 from Noon to 2 p.m. EDT.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is one of 13 national championship conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.