Lexington, Ky. (June 22, 2007) – Mina Harigae, 17, of Monterey, Calif., will face Stephany Fleet, 20, of DeWitt, Mich., in the final of the 2007 United States Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the 6,094-yard course at Kearney Hill Golf Links.
Harigae, a veteran of 13 United States Golf Association championships, advances to the final for the first time. Fleet is playing in her first USGA championship.
Harigae raced to the final with birdies on the three closing holes of her morning quarterfinal match to edge Stephanie Kono, 17, of Honolulu, Hawaii, on the 19th hole. She defeated Wonjoo Choi, 17, of Korea in the semifinals, 2 and 1. Fleet beat Kayla Mortellaro, 16, of Phoenix, Ariz., 5 and 4, in the quarterfinals, then defeated Michelle Shin, 16, of Cape Coral, Fla., 5 and 4, to reach the deciding match.
“I got the speed of the greens down, finally,” Harigae said. “I’m really happy that I finally got here to the final. It took me long enough.”
Harigae won the California Women’s Amateur at the age of 11 and has been a consistent performer in national championships. A two-time semifinalist in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, she has often been favored to win. “This week I was kind of under the radar,” said Harigae, the stroke-play medalist at the 2006 U.S. Girls’ Junior (semifinals) and co-medalist at the 2006 WAPL (quarterfinalist).
Harigae trailed Choi in the semifinal after five holes, 1 down. Harigae made a 15-foot birdie putt to win the sixth hole to square the match. She won the eighth hole with a 35-foot birdie putt to go up for good. She went 2 up at the ninth with a par. Choi birdied the par-three 15th hole to reduce the margin to one hole. On the par-5 18th hole, Harigae hit a wedge shot to within four feet of the hole and made a sliding birdie putt to seal the 2-up victory.
Fleet took the lead against Shin at the second hole and was 2 up at the turn. She then holes 10 and 11 with pars to take a 4-up lead. She birdied the par-5 14th when she chipped to within two feet of the hole. Shin conceded the putt and the match, 5 and 4.
“This afternoon I was all over the place,” Shin said. “I couldn’t make any short putt I had. Every time she needed a putt, she made it.”
Fleet admitted that by advancing to the final, she had surprised herself. “I think my goal was to make match play,” she said. “This is my first USGA championship.”
Harigae and Fleet are at opposite ends of the golf spectrum. Harigae was a First-Team American Junior Golf Association All-American in 2005 and 2006 and was paired with Tom Kite in The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. She once shot 62 at Sea Island Golf Club and takes lessons at the Las Vegas, Nev., learning center of noted instructor Butch Harmon. She has verbally committed to attend Duke in the fall of 2008.
Of the two players, Fleet is actually the one flying under the radar. A junior at Eastern Michigan University, she had to win a playoff in sectional qualifying to make this championship. An Academic All-American the last two years, Fleet says, “I’m probably the least technical player you’ll ever meet. I don’t even check the yardage sometimes. I just hit it.”
Harigae and Fleet will meet in Saturday’s 36-hole final to decide the national women’s public links champion. 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. – 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:
Mina Harigae, Monterey, Calif. (143) def. Stephanie Kono, Honolulu, Hawaii (153), 19 holes
Wonjoo Choi, Korea (141) def. Ryann O’Toole, San Clemente, Calif. (145), 3 and 2
Michelle Shin, Cape Coral, Fla. (146) def. Tonya Choate, Mt. Vernon, Mo. (148), 3 and 2
Stephany Fleet, Dewitt, Mich. (149) def. Kayla Mortellaro, Phoenix, Ariz. (144), 5 and 4
Harigae def. Choi, 2 up
Fleet def. Shin, 5 and 4
Lexington, Ky. – Pairing and starting times for the 36-hole championship match of 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. and 12:30 p.m.: Mina Harigae, Monterey, Calif. (143) vs. Stephany Fleet, Dewitt, Mich. (149)