Charlotte, N.C. (Aug. 11, 2010) – The three stroke-play medalists were among the 32 winners Wednesday in the first round of match play at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur, being played at the par-72, 6,559-yard Charlotte Country Club. But victory did not come easily for two of them.
Erynne Lee, 17, of Silverdale, Wash., needed 19 holes to oust Isabelle Lendl, 19, of Goshen, Conn., and Rachel Rohanna, 18, of Waynesburg, Pa., earned a narrow 1-up victory over Isabel Han, 19, of Harrington Park, N.J. The third medalist, Jaclyn Sweeney, 21, of Andover, Mass., had a much easier match, earning a 6-and-5 victory over Jaclyn Jansen, 20, of Effingham, Ill.
Lee took a 1-up lead with a par on No. 16 but found trouble off the tee on the 18th hole when her drive found the rough. She had trouble extracting her ball from the rough and went on to bogey, which allowed Lendl to square the match and force extra holes.
“I felt really good about taking it 1 up and then I just said, ‘Secure it and just be safe on the next hole,’ ” said Lee. “And then I hit my driver shot pretty solid, but I guess I just pushed it to the right and it found the rough. My dad’s going, ‘Go for it’ and I’m like, ‘Are you sure?’ So I tried to give it a good hit but it was sitting down there. I guess it happens. Today was the first day I became a victim of the rough.”
On the 19th hole, the par-4 first, Lendl missed the green and bogeyed, allowing Lee to escape with a par and the victory.
“That same thing happened on our first hole,” said Lee, a semifinalist at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur. “I was thinking, ‘Okay, she just opened the door for me.’ I took advantage of it and the very first hole, I had that same yardage and I took too much of it. So I grabbed one club down and it was perfect.”
Rohanna trailed throughout much of her first-round match against Han, a survivor of a 6-for-1 playoff Tuesday for the last match-play spot. Han held a 2-up lead after 11 holes but bogeyed the 12th and 13th to allow Rohanna to square the match. Another bogey from Han on No. 16 gave Rohanna a lead she would not relinquish.
“This is the first time I’ve been in a match where I was down by at least one hole and I came back and won,” said Rohanna, who made a 16-foot par putt to win No. 16. “It’s something I’m still trying to overcome, just being down in matches.”
In contrast to her co-medalists’ tight matches, Sweeney never trailed against Jansen. She held a 2-up lead after nine holes and then won four consecutive holes to close her out.
“I kind of got on a roll on the back nine,” said Sweeney, who is playing in her fourth Women’s Amateur. “I won 10, 11, 12 and 13, three with birdies. It was good because I made a good bogey save on nine. I was kind of animated on seven, eight and nine because my putts went right over the lip.”
Sweeney said although she enjoyed earning a share of medalist honors, she didn’t dwell on it once match play started.
“I put it behind me,” she said. “My mom, she doesn’t really watch me play usually, and she asked, ‘Oh, do you want to celebrate?’ I said I’ll celebrate when I get the big trophy, not just the little medal.”
Three players who have lifted a USGA trophy advanced. Two U.S. Girls’ Junior champions, 2007 winner Kristen Park, 17, of Buena Park, Calif., and 2010 champion Doris Chen, 17, of Bradenton, Fla., earned first-round victories, as did Emily Tubert, 17, of Burbank, Calif., who won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.
Two of the first-round matches featured four members of the USA Curtis Cup Team that won the 2010 Match at Essex County Club in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., in June. Cydney Clanton, 21, of Rockwell, N.C., played Tiffany Lua, 19, of Rowland Heights, Calif., and Jessica Korda, 17, of Bradenton, Fla., faced off against 20-year-old Stephanie Kono of Honolulu, Hawaii.
“It’s just like a heartbreak when you know all of us Curtis Cup [players] are paired together,” said Clanton, who won the prestigious North & South Women’s Amateur last month. “So it was kind of a bummer that we’d have to play each other. But you also can’t dwell on it. You have to think of it as another competitor. And Tiffany played great today.”
Clanton earned the 1-up victory when Lua, a semifinalist at the Women’s Amateur a year ago, missed a 6-foot par putt on the 18th hole that would have squared the match.
“I missed it on the high side,” said Lua of her putt on the final hole. “I just hit it a little bit harder than I wanted. I hit a good putt.”
There was no such drama in the Korda-Kono match, where Korda never trailed en route to a 3-and-2 victory. Like Clanton, Korda knew she was in for a tough match against her Curtis Cup teammate.
“I was like, really, this kind of stinks,” said Korda of learning her first-round opponent. “Steph played really well and it was a great match. It took me five holes until I got some kind of break. She’s just a really solid player and a great putter and I knew that coming in.”
The 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur continues with the second- and third-round matches on Thursday. The quarterfinal matches are on Friday, the semifinals 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, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Story written by Beth Murrison, USGA Manager of Championship Communications. For questions or comments, contact her firstname.lastname@example.org.