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Incoming Blue Devils Shepherd, Furtney snag Women's 4-Ball title
Megan Furtney and Erica Shepherd (USGA photo)
Megan Furtney and Erica Shepherd (USGA photo)

A year ago, Megan Furtney and Erica Shepherd only made it as far as the semifinals at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. But this year – another year older and another year closer to becoming teammates at Duke – the two made it all the way to the end. For Shepherd, it’s a second USGA trophy, after having won the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior. For Furtney, it’s uncharted ground.

That’s where her partner came in. Shepherd, a high school senior from Greenwood, Ind., passed along a few words of wisdom from the grind that came with winning a Girls’ Junior. Chief among those things is that you won’t necessarily show up in the final match with your best stuff.

“Something that I knew was somebody told me before going into my final match…you want to play your best golf because it's the biggest stage, but that's just not going to happen,” Shepherd said. “You just have to mentally accept that and have lower expectations.”

But Shepherd watched Furtney, a fellow 18-year-old from South Elgin, Ill., handle it like a champ.

“She looks like she's won a USGA Championship before this,” said Shepherd, who displayed another bit of been-there-before knowledge. As their afternoon opponents were grinding out a 20-hole morning match, Shepherd closed her eyes for a quick recharging nap.

The pair from the Midwest did their work early against Floridians Jillian Bourdage, 17, and Casey Weidenfeld, 16, in the final match at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon. Shepherd and Furtney combined for a birdie on four of the first seven holes. They were 3 up on the eighth tee box, and eventually, Bourdage and Weidenfeld just ran out of holes.

The first two birdies, at Nos. 2 and 3, came courtesy of Furtney. She made the birdie at No. 2 from a fairway bunker, and then took advantage of knowing where the pin was from the morning semifinal match when she hit her approach into No. 3. That set up a 10-footer for birdie that Furtney drained.

Furtney and Shepherd spent very little time trailing in matches this week. They made relatively quick work of their semifinal match against Amari Avery and Alexa Pano on Wednesday morning, advancing after just 15 holes. They only went to extra holes once, in a quarterfinal match against Caroline Curtis and Ashley Gilliam.

The future Blue Devils haven’t played enormous amounts of golf together, but Wednesday’s win should cement their bond as they begin a new golf adventure in the fall in Durham, N.C.

“I've said it before and I'll say it a hundred more times,” Furtney said of her partnership with Shepherd. “We know each other's game so well and we're so good about communicating with each other on the golf course. I think we're one of the few teams out here who didn't use caddies this week. I like to say that we kind of caddie for each other in a sense.”

That sure bodes well for Duke.

ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball

The U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball, the newest USGA championship, was played for the first time in 2015 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon. It immediately became one of the USGA's most popular tournaments. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those women with a Handicap Index of 14.4 or lower. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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