CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 14, 2010) --Charlotte, N.C. – A pair of 17-year-olds, Danielle Kang of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Jessica Korda of Bradenton, Fla., will vie for the 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship after winning semifinal matches Saturday at the par-72, 6,559-yard Charlotte Country Club.
Kang advanced with a 1-up victory over 19-year-old Jennifer Kirby of Canada. Korda, a member of the victorious 2010 USA Curtis Cup Team, earned her spot in the final with a 4-and-3 win over Stephanie Sherlock, 23, of Canada.
In the first semifinal, Kang held a 3-up lead heading to the 16th tee and seemed to be in control of the match, but Kirby made back-to-back birdies to cut the deficit to 1 down.
It seemed like déjà vu for Kang, who held a 1-up lead after 16 holes over Sydnee Michaels of Temecula, Calif., in the quarterfinals Friday. But Michaels made a long birdie putt to win No. 17 and Kang three-putted No. 18, including a missed 4-footer for par, which allowed Michaels to square the match and force extra holes. Kang won the match on the first extra hole.
Holding a 1-up lead on No. 18 against Kirby, Kang hit her approach shot to 60 feet. She lagged her lengthy birdie putt to 3 feet, giving her a short par putt to win the match on the 18th hole for the second consecutive day.
“It did cross my mind,” said Kang about the previous day’s three-putt. “I told myself yesterday was yesterday. I was pretty confident in my putting today. I just told myself to be confident.”
After Kirby missed her 20-footer for birdie, Kang then calmly made her par putt to halve the hole and seal the victory.
It will be the first USGA championship final for Kang, an experienced USGA competitor who earned stroke-play medalist honors at the Women’s Amateur a year ago and at the U.S. Girls’ Junior last month. Kang, who also made the cut at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont (Pa.) C.C., doesn’t plan to put any extra pressure on herself in the final.
“I didn’t set any limits before I came here,” said Kang, who graduated high school early and started her freshman year at Pepperdine University in January. “After the U.S. [Women’s] Open, I just told myself to go have some fun. I play golf because I love it, not because of stress. I don’t put a limit or expectations [on myself] anymore. Go play.”
Korda, who will also be playing in a USGA championship final for the first time, got off to a slow start against Sherlock, with a bogey on the first hole.
“I mostly need to get comfortable in my own little zone,” said Korda. “It just takes me a little while to get comfortable. Breathe, and just get used to being out there. Every day’s different. You don’t come out and the course isn’t the same every day.”
She got comfortable quickly, birdieing the second hole to square the match. Korda would take a 2-up lead after bogeys from Sherlock on the fourth and fifth holes and never trail again.
In her first five matches, Korda has only been extended past the 16th hole once, in her quarterfinal match against Lisa McCloskey of Houston, Texas, which went 20 holes. When told she was making things look easy, Korda laughed.
“I’m glad it looks like that,” said Korda, who is now the equivalent of 14 under par (with concessions) through five matches. “It’s tough. Each player’s different. It takes me a little while to figure my opponents out, and just trying to play my own game at the same time is just never easy. I’m glad it looks easy though.”
Like Kang, Korda is an experienced USGA competitor. In addition to the Curtis Cup Match, she was a quarterfinalist at the Women’s Amateur a year ago and has made the cut at two U.S. Women’s Open Championships. She also represented the USA in the Copa de las Americas event this past January in Argentina.
“I’ve been thinking about it all week,” said Korda when asked if she had given any thought to what winning the Women’s Amateur would mean to her. “But I have 36 holes tomorrow. Anything can happen. But it would mean a lot. The Curtis Cup and this is the highest you can go in amateur golf, so this would be amazing.”
Kirby and Sherlock are both Canadian Women’s Amateur champions, Kirby in 2009 and Sherlock in 2007. Although the two came up short in their bids to become the first Canadian to win the Women’s Amateur since 1978, they weren’t entirely disappointed.
“I’m quite pleased,” said Sherlock, who was playing in her third Women’s Amateur. “I’m playing better, finally. I’ve had a tough year. To come here to an important event and play well is huge. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to [LPGA Tour] Q-school this fall and we’ll go from there.
The 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, which concludes with Sunday’s 36-hole final, 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.