Lexington, Ky. (June 21, 2007) – Tonya Choate, 21, of Mt. Vernon, Mo., a senior at NCAA Division II Drury University in southwestern Missouri, upset two USGA national champions to vault into the quarterfinals at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the 6,094-yard course at Kearney Hill Golf Links.
Choate surprised the 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion, Kimberly Kim, 15, of Hilo, Hawaii, 3 and 2, in the second round. In the third round she defeated defending champion Tiffany Joh, 20, of San Diego Calif., 4 and 3, to advance. “It’s pretty remarkable,” said Choate of the upsets. “They’re both great players. Tiffany hit a few errant shots on the back nine. It wasn’t her day, by any means.”
Stephanie Kono, 17, of Honolulu, Hawaii, who needed four playoff holes Wednesday just to make match play, got past Felicia Espericueta of Edinburg, Texas, 2 and 1. She then beat Pamela Ontiveros of Mexico, 2 up, to reach Friday’s quarterfinals. “I started playing well in the playoff for the last (match play) spot,” Kono said. “I’m just trying to take it one match at a time. Actually, one hole at a time.”
The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played on Friday, with the 36-hole final scheduled for Saturday.
Mina Harigae, 17, of Monterey, Calif., advanced by defeating Selanee Henderson of Apple Valley, Calif., 4 and 3, and then China-born Shanshan Feng of Hilton Head Island, S.C., 3 and 2. The highly-touted Harigae won the California Women’s Amateur at the age of 11, but has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals in this championship. She was a semifinalist at the 2003 and 2006 U.S. Girls’ Juniors.
Harigae got off to an impressive start in her match with Feng when she chipped in from 40 yards on the par-5 third hole for eagle to take a 1-up lead. “But it was a tough match,” Harigae said. “I had to shoot six under par to win.” Along with the eagle, she had four birdies and no bogeys.
Choate’s victories against the two national champions were the most astounding of the day. She won six Division II college tournaments in a row as a sophomore and eight for the year but didn’t have the national reputation of Kim or Joh. In fact, she’s in this championship as an alternate. She didn’t know she could play until last Tuesday, five days before play began.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Choate said of her two upsets. “I played consistent. I played solid. I hit fairways and greens and then had two putts. That drives people crazy.”
“The way she played today, that’s the way you should play a match,” Joh, the defender, said of Choate. “She didn’t make a single bogey and she just never opened any doors. She just let me, and probably Kim too, just make all the mistakes. That was probably a textbook match.”
Three players with Kentucky ties lost in Thursday morning’s second round: Marci Turner of Tompkinsville, Ky.; Ashlee Rose of Nicholasville, Ky.; and University of Kentucky player Elizabeth Dotson of White Bluff, Tenn. Also losing Thursday morning was two-time NCAA Division I player of the year Amanda Blumenherst of Scottsdale, Ariz. The 20-year-old Duke University junior fell to 2006 WAPL semifinalist Sara Brown, 21, of Tucson, Ariz.
In Friday morning’s quarterfinals, Kono faces Harigae and Choate plays Michelle Shin of Cape Coral, Fla. Kono and Harigae met in the 2006 U.S. Girls’ Junior quarterfinals.
The Women’s Amateur Public Links is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association. Ten are strictly for amateurs.
Story written by Rhonda Glenn, manager of communications for the USGA. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lexington, Ky. – Results of the second round of match play on Thursday at the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship being held at the 6,094-yard, par-72 Kearney Hill Golf Links:
Round of 32
Stephanie Kono, Honolulu, Hawaii (153) def. Felicia Espericueta, Edinburg, Texas (148), 2 and 1
Pamela Ontiveros, Mexico (145) def. Elizabeth Dotson, White Bluff, Tenn. (145), 2 up (145)
Mina Harigae, Monterey, Calif. (143) def. Selanee Henderson, Apple Valley, Calif. (149), 4 and 3
Shanshan Feng, Hilton Head Island, S.C. (143) def. Katie Kempter, Albuquerque, N.M. (149), 4 and 3
Wonjoo Choi, Korea (141) def. Ashlee Rose, Nicholasville, Ky. (149), 3 and 2
Jane Chin, Huntington Beach, Calif. (144) def. Katie Ackerson, Allen, Texas (145), 3 and 2
Ha-Na Jang, Korea (142) def. Emily Powers, Quincy, Ill. (149), 4 and 3
Ryann O’Toole, San Clemente, Calif. (145) def. Mari Chun, Pearl City, Hawaii (144), 20 holes
Tonya Choate, Mt. Vernon, Mo. (148) def. Kimberly Kim, Hilo, Hawaii (138), 3 and 2
Tiffany Joh, San Diego, Calif. (145) def. Aimee Neff, Carmel, Ind. (145), 2 and 1
Angela Oh, Maple Shade, N.J. (143) def. Kristen Schelling, Mesa, Ariz. (146), 3 and 2
Michelle Shin, Cape Coral, Fla. def. Christine Song, Fullerton, Calif. (143), 1 up
Brianna Do, Long Beach, Calif. (148) def. Marci Turner, Tompkinsville, Ky. (141), 20 holes
Kayla Mortellaro, Phoenix, Ariz. (144) def. RemiJin Camping, Miami, Fla. (4 and 3), 2 and 1
Stephany Fleet, Dewitt, Mich. (149) def. Glory Jooyoung Yang, Korea (142), 1 up
Sara Brown, Tucson, Ariz. (146) def. Amanda Blumenherst, Scottsdale, Ariz. (144), 3 and 2
Lexington, Ky. – Results of the third round of match play Thursday at the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at Kearney Hill Golf Links.
Round Of 16
Kono def. Ontiveros, 2 up
Harigae def. Feng, 3 and 2
Choi vs. Chin, 2 and 1
O’Toole def. Jang, 3 and 2
Choate def. Joh, 4 and 3
Shin def. Oh, 2 and 1
Mortellaro def. Do, 1 up
Fleet def. Brown, 3 and 1
Lexington, Ky. – Pairings and starting times for the quarterfinal round of match play on Friday at the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship being held at the 6,094-yard, par-72 Kearney Hill Golf Links:
8 a.m.: Stephanie Kono, Honolulu, Hawaii (153) vs. Mina Harigae, Monterey, Calif. (143)
8:10 a.m.: Wonjoo Choi, Korea (141) vs. Ryann O’Toole, San Clemente, Calif. (145)
8:20 a.m.: Tonya Choate, Mt. Vernon, Mo. (148) vs. Michelle Shin, Cape Coral, Fla. (146)
8:30 a.m.: Kayla Mortellaro, Phoenix, Ariz. (144) vs. Stephany Fleet, Dewitt, Mich. (149)