CARMEL, Ind. (Aug. 11, 2007)-- Amanda Blumenhurst, 20, of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Maria Uribe, 17, of Columbia, won their semifinal matches to advance to Sunday’s final in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the 6,595-yard, par-72 Crooked Stick Golf Club.
Blumenherst, with more than two dozen friends and family members cheering her on, defeated defending champion Kimberly Kim, 15, of Hilo, Hawaii, 5 & 3. Uribe, a quarterfinalist in 2005, defeated Ha Na Jang, 15, of Korea, 2 & 1.
Blumenherst threw an early flurry of birdies at Kim to take a 4-up lead after nine holes. She then birdied four straight holes, the 10th through the 13th, but Kim also had a run of birdies. Blumenhurst went 5-up with a birdie at the 10th. Kim then had four straight birdies, the 11th through the 14th, but won back only one hole.
At the 15th hole, Blumenherst was dormie-4 on her USA teammate from the 2006 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship. Kim was faced with 25-foot must-make birdie putt on the par-5 hole. Kim’s putt hit the hole, spun out, and she then missed a short putt for par. Blumenhurst made a 5, winning the hole and the match.
With the usual match-play concessions, Blumenherst was 4-under-par.
“I kind of had a sense of calm after I had won the eighth,” she said. “I thought, ‘All right, I’m going to see how low I can go.’”
“That's match play,” said Kim. “Sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. Like even when I tried to come back, it was like I couldn't do anything about it.”
Kim was unable to keep her streak going after winning 10 straight matches in this championship. She failed to make crucial putts until the back nine against Blumenhurst.
“I was hitting good putts, and I always thought it was going in, but then they either like burned the edge or lipped out,” said Kim. “There's nothing I could do about that. “
Blumenherst grew up in nearby Ft. Wayne (90 minutes from Indianapolis) and has a sizeable fan base of family and friends. She has won by large margins since easing through the first round in 19 holes. She has since prevailed by 5 & 4, 6 & 5, 5 & 4, and 5 & 3 margins.
Uribe trailed only once in the match with Jang. She took a 1-up lead with a birdie at the par-4 10th hole and birdied the 15th to go 2-up. With Uribe dormie-2 at the par-3 17th hole, Jang hit her tee shot to within 12 feet of the hole. Uribe was 50 feet away. Uribe made the long, twisting putt to close out the match, 2 and 1, conceding Jang’s birdie putt.
“Vamos!” she yelled as the putt went in.
“That is like, ‘Let’s go,’ ” she explained. “It’s like, ‘Come on’ in Spanish.”
Uribe was cheered by nearly a dozen Hispanic members of Crooked Stick’s greens crew who were following the match.
“They’re Latin people,” Uribe said “Even if they don’t know you, they just go and cheer for you. That’s really good. I have been here for two weeks now, so I have seen them like a lot of times.”
Uribe was 4-under-par, with match-play concessions. Jang stayed within a one-hole margin until her club hit a rock the size of an egg on her second shot on the 15th hole. She lost the hole to go two holes down. Uribe then halved the 16th with a par and the 17th with the long birdie putt to win.
Uribe and Blumenherst play for the championship Sunday. Both players said they planned on getting lots of rest before the scheduled 36-hole final. Blumenherst is staying with eight relatives in the two-bedroom house belonging to her grandmother. Uribe said she planned to put her feet up in her hotel room tonight and watch movies. She’s counting on the members of Crooked Stick’s greens crew to give her support during the final.
“It’s good,” she said. “I know that Amanda has a lot of family and I don’t have anybody.”
--Story by Rhonda Glenn, USGA