NESHANIC STATION, N.J. – Lisa McClosKey, 20, of Houston, Texas, a member of the 2012 USA Curtis Cup Team, fired a 36-hole total of 7-under-par 137 to win medalist honors in stroke-play qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at Neshanic Valley Golf Course.
McCloskey’s 5-under-par 67 on Tuesday was the low round among qualifiers at the 6,221-yard, par-72 course. She edged Steffi Niesen, 20, of New Prague, Minn., and 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up Karen Chung, 17, of Livingston, N.J., by one stroke. Both finished at 6-under 138.
First-round co-leader Lakareber Abe, 16, of Angleton, Texas, combined a 71 with her opening 68 to finish at two strokes back at 5-under 139.
This was the second USGA qualifying medal for McCloskey, the runner-up at the 2010 WAPL. In 2008 she fired a 63 at Hartford Golf Club in the second round to win medalist honors in the U.S. Girls’ Junior.
“I feel good,” McCloskey said. “I didn’t play very well yesterday and my first nine [Tuesday] was pretty poor but my putting has carried me through the two days. Putting is also definitely a key to match play.”
McCloskey recorded six birdies against one bogey. She hit short-iron approach shots close to the hole for short birdie putts on Nos. 2, 6, 7, 14 and 18. She made only one birdie putt longer than 12 feet, a 15-footer on the first hole.
McCloskey has suffered recent near-misses in competition. Her University of Southern California women’s golf team led the 2012 NCAA Division I Championship with only a few holes to play, but finished second to the University of Alabama. Right after that event, McCloskey missed qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open by two strokes and then her USA Team lost the recent Curtis Cup Match by a one-point margin at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland. It was the first USA defeat since 1996.
“I think I’ve pretty much recovered,” said McCloskey, who opens match play on Wednesday against Hana Ku of Basking Ridge, N.J. Ku survived a 4-for-3 playoff for the final match-play spots late Tuesday.
Neisen shed tears of joy after putting out on the 18th green for a 68. It is her lowest score in a USGA championship.
“I’m still a little bit in shock,” said Neisen, who will be a junior this fall at the University of Nebraska. “I didn’t have good practice range sessions. I didn’t try to do anything spectacular today and I did a good job of missing my shots in the right places.”
Neisen made six birdies on putts ranging from 2 to 10 feet. She will play Lea Garner of Washington Terrace, Utah, in the first round. Garner also was involved in the playoff.
After her second-round 68, Chung said she was just relieved to make the cut for match play. “I haven’t been playing well the past couple of weeks so I was pretty nervous coming into this,” she said. “I was all over the golf course today but I scrambled well.”
Chung , who lost that 2008 Girls’ Junior final to current LPGA Tour player Alexis Thompson, had seven birdies on Tuesday. Chung faces Lilia Kah-Tu Vu of Fountain Valley, Calif., in the first round.
All three 2012 USA Curtis Cup players in the field easily qualified. Besides McCloskey, Emily Tubert of Burbank, Calif., finished at 1-under-par 143 and Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif., was at even-par 144. Tubert won this championship in 2010.
The cut came at 5-over-par 149, with four players going for three match-play berths in the 64-player draw. Garner, Vu and Ku made pars on the first playoff hole to advance to match play.
Marissa Dodd of Allen, Texas, the 2011 runner-up, missed the cut by one stroke.
First-round matches will be contested on Wednesday, followed by the second and third rounds of matches on Thursday. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played on Friday, and the championship concludes with a 36-hole final on Saturday.