CARMEL, Ind. (Aug. 8, 2007)-- Defending champion Kimberly Kim, 15, of Hilo, Hawaii, and two 12-year-olds, Pearl Jin of San Gabriel, Calif., and Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., advanced to the second match-play round of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the 6,595-yard, par 72 course at Crooked Stick Golf Club.
On a brutally hot day where the thermometer reached 97 and the heat index topped 103, Kim eaked out a win against Ayaka Kaneko of Honolulu, Hawaii, 1-up. The match was so tight that neither player led by more than one hole.
Jin and Thompson both won and face each other in Thursday’s third round. They are the youngest players in the 112-year history of the championship to make match play.
Jin raced to a 5-up lead after a front-nine 31 against Ashley Tait, 20, of Littleton, Colo. By the 15th hole, however, Jin’s lead had shrunk to 1-up.
“I tried to shoot even better and I tried a little too hard,” Jin said of losing four holes to Tait on the back nine.
Jin finally made a par on the 17th hole to win, 2 & 1.
Jin is four months younger than Thompson.
“It feels really good to be the youngest one, but I’m a little bit nervous,” Jin said.
Thompson lost three holes on the front nine, then won them back. On the 525-yard, par-5 fifth, she watched Jensen hit a 230-yard 3-wood second shot to within 10 feet of the hole. Thompson holed a 25-footer for birdie, and again watched as Jensen sank her eagle putt. Jensen took a 1-up lead for the last time and Thompson captured five holes on the back nine, winning 3 & 2.
The Thompson-Jin match will be the only time two 12-year-olds have met in this championship.
“It will be interesting, it really will,” said Thompson. “Yeah, that’ll be cool.”
“I’m really excited,” said Jin.
Thompson is the more experienced of the two and last month became the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Open history. Jin, who got her black belt in taekwondo when she was six, will enter the seventh grade in the fall. Thompson is home-schooled.
Kim said of her 1-up win over Kaneko, “was so hard. We both played the best of our games. After nine holes, I thought if I lose this match, it would (still) be a great match.”
Kim and Kaneko were roommates in this summer’s American Junior Golf Association Canon Cup match but had never met in match play.
Mina Harigae, 17, of Monterey, Calif., the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, defeated Kristie Smith, 19, of Australia, 3 & 2. The co-medalist in qualifying, Kristina Wong, 16, of Vestal, N.Y., eased past Kaitlin Drolson of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 5 and 3. The other co-medalist, Stacy Lewis, 22, the NCAA Division I champion from The Woodlands, Texas, was upset, 2 & 1, by Margaret Shirley, 21, of Roswell, Ga. Shirley got into the championship as an alternate.
Mallory Blackwelder, 20, of Versailles, Ken., the reigning Women’s Western Amateur champion, survived her match against Becca Huffer of Denver, Colo., 1-up. Amanda Blumenhurst, 20, a 2006 USA Curtis Cup team member from Scottsdale, Ariz., defeated Kristin Ingram, 20, of Pasadena, Calif., on the 19th hole.
The championship will conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday.
--Story by Rhonda Glenn, USGA