(Steve Gibbons / USGA)
By Christina Lance
CHARLESTON, S.C. (August 5, 2013) — With the day’s only sub-par round of 2-under 69, Allisen Corpuz sits atop the leader board following Monday’s first round of stroke play in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, being conducted at the par-71 Country Club of Charleston.
Seven players trail Corpuz, of Honolulu, by two strokes at even-par 71, including 2013 Royale Cup Canadian Women’s Amateur champion Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi and 2010 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Emily Tubert.
The 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is open to female amateur golfers. It consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Corpuz, 15, carded three birdies to only one bogey over the Seth Raynor-designed course en route to the clubhouse lead. A surprising birdie at the par-4 first hole set the pace for Corpuz’s steady round.
“I actually pushed my drive into the rough, in between the two bunkers on the first hole,” said Corpuz, who attends Honolulu’s prestigious Punahou School. “I caught a hybrid and it landed about 10 or 20 yards short (of the green) and rolled up to 30 feet.”
Corpuz knocked in that 30-footer and rolled from there, a bogey on the par-4 10th the only blemish on her scorecard. Despite Monday’s success, Corpuz is very cognizant that the job is not finished.
“I still have to play a solid round tomorrow, but it's a lot better than shooting a couple over and having to worry about putting in another good round,” she said.
The Women’s Amateur is the final event in Corpuz’s daunting summer stretch of golf. The Corpuz entourage departed Hawaii on May 30 and has not left the U.S. mainland since, making stops at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and Girls’ Junior championships, the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and the Women’s TRANS National Championship. Corpuz came to Charleston fresh from a T5 finish at last week’s Junior PGA Championship.
“I'm kind of ready to go home, but I'm trying to put in one last solid tournament,” said Corpuz with a wry smile.
Stasi, 34, of Oakland Park, Fla., is attempting to reach match play for the second time in her nine Women’s Amateur appearances. Five birdies, including a 20-footer at the club’s notoriously difficult par-3 11th, put her in prime position to advance.
“I had a little game plan,” said Stasi of her approach to the 11th, a classic reverse-Redan hole that features an extreme false front and yielded only three birdies on Monday. “I hit it where I wanted to and was fortunate to make the putt.”
With the familiar presence of her father, Mike Bolger, on the bag, Stasi made easy work of her morning round.
“You really just have to pay attention to every shot,” said Stasi. “I was pretty fortunate to put myself in good spots.”
Tubert, 21, of Burbank, Calif., started on the 10th hole and opened with a strong 2-under 33 over her outward nine. Her inward nine, on the other hand, was a different story.
“I was putting great (on the first nine), got up and down a couple times,” said Tubert, the only member of the 2012 USA Curtis Cup Team who is eligible for the championship. “And then the back nine, I just was hitting it all over.”
Bogeys at the par-4 fourth and eighth holes dropped Tubert back to even for the day. But the day was not a total loss for the rising senior at the University of Arkansas, who had a less-than-stellar collegiate season before failing to make the cut at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in June.
“I feel like my game, everything is kind of on the up-and-up,” said Tubert, who qualified for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open, but missed the cut. “I’ve worked hard on a lot of mental stuff and swing stuff since I’ve been home. I feel like I’m on the verge of playing great golf.”
Just 10 days ago, Henderson, of Canada, won her home country’s Women’s Amateur, capturing a runaway six-stroke victory. The 15-year-old carried that momentum into Monday’s round, carding four birdies and four bogeys on the windswept course.
“It was tough out there today,” said Henderson, who made the cut at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open in June. “The wind was really strong, so I just focused on yardages going into the green and tried to play to the conservative side, to get a putt at it.”
Emma Talley returned a notable scorecard on Monday morning. The 19-year-old from Princeton, Ky., notched 18 pars to join Henderson, Stasi and Tubert at 71. Also with even-par scorecards are Carolin Pinegger, 22, of Austria; Kendall Prince, 20, of Lake Oswego, Ore.; and 14-year-old Yumi Matsubara, of Japan.
South Carolina’s Dawn Woodard joined Stasi in strong representation for the Mid-Amateur set. The 38-year-old, who is competing in her second Women’s Amateur and her first since 2007, is tied for ninth with a 1-over 72.
“You just have to be very patient and take what (the course) gives you, which is a good thing for me,” said Woodard, the only player out of the field’s five Mid-Amateurs to advance via sectional qualifying (the remaining four were fully exempt). “I’m not going to ever go out there and make a lot of birdies, but I can make a lot of pars, usually.”
The championship’s youngest competitor, 10-year-old Lucy Li, failed to capture the same magic that propelled her into match play at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. Li opened with a triple-bogey 7 at the first hole en route to an 11-over 82.
“The course isn't much harder (than the WAPL course), but it's a lot longer,” said Li, of Redwood Shores, Calif., who last month became the youngest competitor in WAPL history to reach match play.
Alison Lee, the runner-up at the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior, returned a 1-over 72. Gabriella Then, who became the most recent USGA female champion when she won the U.S. Girls’ Junior two weeks ago, opened with a 2-over 73, along with 2012 Girls’ Junior champion Minjee Lee. Lauren Diaz-Yi, who captured the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, shot a 4-over 75, as did 2012 WAPL champion Kyung Kim and Erynne Lee, who represented the USA at the 2012 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship.
Casie Cathrea, the low amateur at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open, returned seven bogeys to one birdie en route to a 6-over 77. Five-time USGA champion Ellen Port, who will captain the 2014 USA Curtis Cup Team next June, carded a 7-over 78.