St. Louis, Mo. (August 5, 2009) – Amelia Lewis, 18, of Jacksonville, Fla., needed to survive a two-hole playoff just to make it to match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. During Wednesday’s first round at the par-71, 6,468-yard Old Warson Country Club she made the most of the opportunity, ousting stroke-play medalist Danielle Kang of Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2 and 1.
“God gave me a second chance with a playoff yesterday, so I am going to try to make the most of it this week,” said Lewis.
Lewis, who will be a freshman at the University of Florida this fall, birdied the first two holes to take the early lead. Kang won four of the next five holes to turn the deficit into a two-hole advantage. But Lewis came right back to win the eighth and ninth holes to square the match.
“After the eighth hole and I was only one back and then I made the birdie on nine, I knew it was going to be very close on the back side,” said Lewis, who won the North and South Women’s Amateur on July 18 at Pinehurst.
The two players halved the next five holes. On the par-4 15th, Lewis made a 4-footer for par to take a 1-up lead. After both players birdied No. 16, Kang hit her tee shot on the par-3 17th into a greenside bunker and eventually made triple bogey. Lewis two-putted from 15 feet to end the match.
“She played really well today,” said the 16-year-old Kang. “It was a good match. She did better than she did in stroke play.”
Also having an easier time in match play Wednesday was 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior winner Alexis Thompson, 14, of Coral Springs, Fla. Thompson had little trouble in her first-round match against Sun Gyoung Park, 17, of Vail, Ariz., en route to a 7-and-6 victory.
After struggling in the two rounds of stroke play, with rounds of 76 and 74, Thompson was the equivalent of two under par, with match-play concessions, against Park.
“I drove the ball well today and I just hit it a lot better,” said Thompson, who admitted she wasn’t sure her stroke-play scores would be good enough to advance. “I was just thankful that I made it to match play.”
Jennifer Song of Ann Arbor, Mich., who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in June and earned low-amateur honors at the Women’s Open the following month, also advanced with a 3-and-1 win over Megan McChrystal of Stuart, Fla. Song, 19, is trying to join Pearl Sinn as the only players to win the WAPL and Women’s Amateur in the same year.
Amy Anderson’s hopes of becoming the first in history to win the Girls’ Junior and the Women’s Amateur in the same year were dashed when she dropped a 3-and-2 decision to Cydney Clanton, 20, of Rockwell, N.C., in Wednesday’s first round. Anderson, 17, of Oxbow, N.D., who won the Girls’ Junior at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., last month, fell behind to Clanton early and couldn’t recover from a five-hole deficit.
Also ousted was 2006 Women’s Amateur champion Kimberly Kim, 17, of Hilo, Hawaii, who lost a 5-and-3 decision to Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, 20, of Canada. For LeBlanc, success on the greens was the key against Kim.
“For the last two days I didn’t make any long putts, over 6 feet,” said LeBlanc, a sophomore-to-be at Purdue University who earned a share of individual medalist honors at the Big 10 Championship last spring. “But today I did and it really helped me a lot.”
LeBlanc, exempt into the field by virtue of her top-eight individual finish at the 2008 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship, knew she would have her work cut out for her against the accomplished Kim, who had already played in two USGA championship finals and the U.S. Women’s Open this year.
“I just tried to stay confident, and tried not to be intimidated by her,” said LeBlanc. “But she’s a long hitter so that didn’t work.”
The 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur continues with the second and third rounds Thursday. The quarterfinal matches will be played Friday, the semifinal matches are on Saturday, and the 36-hole championship final will be played Sunday.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Story written by Beth Murrison, manager of communicatons for the USGA. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.