CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug 13, 2010) – Jessica Korda, 17, of Bradenton, Fla., ousted stroke-play tri-medalist Erynne Lee, 17, of Silverdale, Wash., to lead the quarterfinal winners Friday at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship on a hot and humid day at par-72, 6,559-yard Charlotte Country Club.
Also advancing to the semifinals were Danielle Kang, 17, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and a pair of Canadians, 19-year-old Jennifer Kirby and Stephanie Sherlock, 23.
Korda trailed early but took control of the match on the second nine. She made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole to earn a 4-and-3 victory over Lee, a semifinalist at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
“She played really well,” said Korda, who made six birdies, with the usual match-play concessions. “I was just putting really well today. I wasn’t necessarily striking the ball as well, but I was really putting well.”
After playing in the Curtis Cup Match in June and at the U.S. Women’s Open in July, Korda decided to skip the U.S. Girls’ Junior despite being exempt into the championship.
“I took a week off after Women’s Open,” said Korda, who made the cut at the 2008 and 2009 Women’s Opens. “I needed a break from golf. I knew that I was probably going to skip U.S. Girls’ [Junior] because there was just way too much going on. I think the break really did me well.”
Korda’s semifinal opponent will be Sherlock, who advanced with a 2-and-1 victory over Junthima Gulyanamitta, 21, of West Lafayette, Ind. Sherlock never trailed and built a 3-up lead after six holes. Back-to-back bogeys by Sherlock on Nos. 10 and 11 allowed Gulyanamitta to square the match, but birdies on the 12th and 14th holes put Sherlock back in control.
“I’ve been fighting my golf swing a little bit all week,” said Sherlock, the 2007 Canadian Women’s Amateur champion who is playing in her third U.S. Women’s Amateur. “I tend to miss the odd shot and I missed a couple there on 10 and 11 and kind of gave her some holes back.”
Sherlock and Kirby are trying to become the first Canadian to win the Women’s Amateur since Cathy Sherk in 1978. Only one other Canadian, 1956 champion Marlene Stewart Streit, has won the Women’s Amateur.
“Probably not as much as if we were to win something in hockey,” said Sherlock when asked whether a Canadian winning the Women’s Amateur would be big news in her home country. “But I think some people would start to pay more attention to golf. I think it would shed some light on the women’s game up there for sure.”
Kirby had the largest margin of victory in the quarterfinals, recording a 6-and-4 decision over Kristen Park, 17, of Buena Park, Calif. Kirby went 2 up early when Park bogeyed the first two holes and never trailed.
Despite jumping out to an early lead, Kirby kept the pressure on Park, the 2007 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion who was trying to become the sixth in history to capture both that title and the Women’s Amateur.
“When I was younger, I’d say ‘OK, we’re good now,’ ” said Kirby, who is playing in her first Women’s Amateur. “But you know that you’re playing good players so you just have to keep going, keep building on it, because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Kirby, 2009 Canadian Women’s Amateur champion, was hesitant to look forward to making the finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
“I’m not thinking about that,” said Kirby. “With match play, you just have to think about the hole you’re on because that’s the most important thing. I’m not going to get into the finals if I don’t win the holes before that.”
To reach the final, Kirby will have to get past Kang in Saturday’s semifinals. Kang held a 1-up lead against Syndee Michaels, 22, of Temecula, Calif., heading to No. 17 but lost the hole on a long birdie putt from Michaels. Kang had a chance to close out Michaels on the 18th but missed a 4-foot par putt.
“I didn’t realize that I was getting nervous but I guess I was internally,” said Kang of the putt on 18. “I usually tell myself, don’t ever get mad on the golf course anymore. Don’t show it. But that really got to me. I was like, did you really just do that again? I was upset. Going to the playoff hole, I was really upset. Going to the second shot I was still a little shaken up, but my dad told me, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. We’re just giving them more entertainment.’ That actually made me smile.”
On the first extra hole, No. 10, Michaels missed the green with her approach shot and was unable to get up and down for par, allowing Kang to safely two-putt for the victory.
Kang, who made the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open last month, said she learned a lot from her experience on the difficult layout at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club.
“I think I improved a lot, just making the cut there,” said Kang, the runner-up to Michaels two weeks ago at the Canadian Women’s Amateur. “I’m not really thinking about the cut that I did, but what I learned playing Oakmont is really valuable. I had no patience whatsoever at that course. Making the cut was great, but after the cut, nothing worked out the way I wanted to. I got really upset. I realized I could have saved a lot of shots if I hadn’t gotten frustrated and upset. After that, I went to the U.S. [Girls’] Junior and I stayed calm and ended up getting medalist and getting to the quarterfinals.”
The 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship continues with the semifinals Saturday and concludes with the 36-hole final 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.