Arizona Silver Belle: Yin, Mao share title

CHANDLER, Ariz. (Dec. 31, 2011) -- CHANDLER, Ariz. – Thirteen-year-old Angel Yin and University of Virginia freshman Briana Mao played to a draw after eight playoff holes to share the 41st annual Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Golf Championship presented by the AB Farrington Foundation at the Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz.

Yin, a seventh-grader from Arcadia, Calif., and Mao, 18, of Folsom, Calif., ended the 54-hole tournament at 7-under 209, then proceeded to par the first six playoff holes, birdied the seventh and made par on the eighth extra hole before having to stop because of darkness.

The Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle features top-ranked amateurs from across the country ages 13 to 23 and was held this year on the 6,135-yard Devil’s Claw course at Whirlwind, in suburban Phoenix.

“It’s kind of intimidating playing against older girls,” said Yin, who won the California Amateur championship in 2010 as a 12-year-old. “It’s like a whole new level of golf.”

Mariana Sims, 17, of Austin, Texas, the runner-up at the Silver Belle last year, finished third at 5-under for the tournament and Kansas State golfer Gianna Misenhelter, 19, of Overland Park, Kan., was a shot back to finish fourth.

Yin led after each of the first two rounds of the tourney and was at 8-under before bogeying the 17th hole on Friday. Mao, in the group ahead of Yin, birdied three of the last four holes to finish tied with Yin.

On the seventh playoff hole, Mao hit her second shot on the 367-yard par-4 first hole within a foot of the cup. Yin was 15 feet away but sank her birdie putt and Mao tapped in to force an eighth hole. On the final hole, Mao was 30 feet away for birdie and got within five feet while Yin was about 10 feet from the hole but missed just left. Both made their short par putts to end tied.

“The round today I am really proud of, really, everything came together well,” Mao said. “The playoff holes, however, we kept parring and parring. We were both making great shots. It was a tough playoff.”

Tied for fifth at 2-under were Tulsa University golfer Kristina Merkle, 20, Alisen Corpuz, 13, Alexandra White, 17, all of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Alix Kong, 15, of West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Tied for ninth at 1-under were Amy Lee, 15, of Brea, Calif., Ciera Min, 16, Hilo, Hawaii, Alexandra Kaui, 16, of Las Vegas, Minjia Luo, 17, of San Diego, and Chacha Willhoite, 17, of Palm Desert, Calif.

More than 40 Silver Belle participants have competed on the LPGA tour, including the current No. 1 golfer in the world. Yani Tseng, the youngest player ever to have won five major championships, won the 2005 Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championship. Past participants also include Paula Creamer (8 tour victories, 2005 LPGA Rookie of the Year); Pat Hurst (6 tour victories); Emilee Klein (3 tour victories); Brandie Burton (5 tour victories); and Danielle Ammaccapane (6 tour victories).

The Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championship is a 54-hole stroke play event -- 18 holes over three days. The Silver Belle is unique in that there are both age division winners and an overall champion after the three days of competition. It is also unique in that juniors have the opportunity to compete alongside collegiate players. The Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle Championship is a nationally ranked TITLEIST/GOLFWEEK MAGAZINE points event.

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