PINEHURST, N.C. (July 19, 2012) -- Breanna Elliot started her round brilliantly, making the turn in 3-under-par 33 on Thursday to rocket into contention for one of the 16 spots for match play at the 110th North and South Women’s Amateur.
By the time she was sitting on the Pinehurst No. 8 veranda overlooking the 18th green, though, all hope appeared lost. The Aussie came in at 4-over 40 for a 73, putting her in a tie for 17th – and on the outside looking in.
Until Haley Stephens bogeyed 18.
Elliot made the most of her big break, tapping in for birdie on the first playoff hole at Pinehurst No. 8 to clip Stephens and two others to earn the 16th and final berth for Friday’s Round of 16 match play at famed Pinehurst No. 2. She will face medalist Jaye Marie Green at 7:30 a.m.
“Everyone’s on an even playing field now,” said a relieved Elliot, who had also bogeyed 18. “Everybody’s goal was just to get to match play. It would be nice to be (the medalist), but right now I can go out and start fresh. It’s just like the first round.”
Still, Elliot wasn’t sure she’d be around for the weekend as she watched Stephens walk up the 18th fairway.
“It was pretty downhill after the turn,” Elliot said. “I was playing really well and thinking, ‘Why haven’t I played like this the first two days?’ Then I bogeyed the next two holes and lost confidence in my putter.”
She didn’t really need her putter in the playoff, getting near the front of the green with a 3 wood on the 489-yard par-5. She knocked her chip within 2 feet for a no-doubt birdie.
“I thought it was going to go in for a while,” she said.
Green, the 18-year-old phenom from Boca Raton, Fla., continued to be the class of the field on Thursday, winning medalist honors by two shots over Ashley Armstrong and fellow teen sensation Moriya Jutanugarn. It’s a moment that hasn’t sunk in yet for Green, who has looked forward to competing on No. 2 for several years.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” she said. “I can’t believe I’ll be playing golf at the same place Payne Stewart walked around and won the U.S. Open. It’s really, really cool.”
Green said she is eager to shift from stroke play to one-on-one competition.
“Match play is not like playing the whole field,” Green said. “It’s you and another person, and that’s it. You can really feel the pressure on you or put the pressure on them. That’s really cool.”
Jutanugarn, a 17-year-old native of Bangkok and a close friend of Green, carded a second-straight even-par 72 to earn the second seed while Armstrong, who enjoyed the low round of the day with a 70, will take the third seed.
Doris Chen, the 2011 North and South Amateur runner-up to Danielle Kang, added a 72 to finish in a tie for fifth, earning the No. 5 seed in match play.
Two years after the Men’s North and South Amateur Championship began in 1900, the women’s championship was born and now celebrates its 110th year. It has become one of the most sought after women’s amateur titles and routinely displays the talents of players who are seen competing on the LPGA.
Its champions are among the legends of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk, Hollis Stacey, Donna Andrews, Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.