FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (July 23, 2014) – Stroke-play medalist Angel Yin, 15, of Arcadia, Calif., won her opening-round match on Wednesday at the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, earning a 4-and-2 victory over Julie Luo at Forest Highlands Golf Club.
Yin was joined in the round of 32 by second-seeded Marijosse Navarro, 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior semifinalist Bethany Wu, last week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links runner-up Eun Jeong Seong and Andrea Lee, who had a rare double-eagle en route to her first-round victory.
For the first time in the championship, Yin’s tremendous distance and power presented her with a challenge rather than a marked advantage. With the par-72 Meadow Course set up to 6,410 yards, 308 less than the official measurement, the long-hitting Yin struggled early to adapt.
“The holes were getting shorter and I didn’t adjust that fast,” said Yin, who is attempting to become the 18th player in the 66-year championship history to win the title after being stroke-play medalist.
Once Yin was able to adjust to the shorter yardages, her game came together. She won Nos. 8-10 with birdies to build a 3-up lead, and ultimately closed out Luo with a par at the 16th hole.
Yin’s next opponent will be Bailey Tardy, 17, of Norcross, Ga., who moved on with a 5-and-4 win over Emma Albrecht. It is a medalist match-up, as Tardy earned the honors at the 2013 Girls’ Junior at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind.
“I was trying to aim for pars all day, but I guess I did a little better than that,” said Tardy, who was 7 under through 14 holes, with the usual match-play concessions.
Andrea Lee provided the day’s excitement when she holed out from 273 yards for double-eagle 2 at the par-5 fifth hole. With her future coach, Stanford’s Anne Walker, in the gallery, the 15-year-old from Hermosa Beach, Calif., pulled off the shot of the championship.
“I just wanted to get up somewhere on the green, maybe two-putt for birdie,” said Lee, who has verbally committed to Stanford for the fall of 2016. “I saw it disappear, but I thought it just trickled to the back. I heard (the gallery) screaming. It was crazy.”
That double-eagle earned Lee a 1-up lead in her match with Chakansim (Fai) Khamborn, of Thailand. She stretched the advantage to 3-up at the turn, but Khamborn won holes 10 and 11 to pull within one.
“I managed to stay calm and play my own game,” said Lee, who made the cut at last month’s U.S. Women’s Open. Lee converted birdies at three of the next four holes to win the match, 4 and 3. She will next face Yuka Saso, of the Philippines, who needed 19 holes to eliminate Nina Alexis Novilla.
Sofia Chabon, 13, of the Philippines, only led once during her match with local favorite Hannah O’Sullivan, 16, of Paradise Valley, Ariz. Luckily for Chabon, it was after the final hole. After rallying from a 3-down deficit through five holes, Chabon eliminated O’Sullivan in 21 holes.
“I told myself to relax and I started making birdies,” said Chabon, who is competing in her first USGA championship. Chabon converted seven birdies over the final 16 holes, including a 4-footer for the win.
Chabon’s countrywoman, 17-year-old Princess Mary Superal, notched the round’s quickest victory. Her 8-and-7 win over playoff-survivor Maria Davis was the largest margin of victory since Nicole Morales took a 9-and-8 win over Lauren Johnson at the 2012 Girls’ Junior.
Seong, the 14-year-old record-setting medalist at last week’s Women’s Amateur Public Links, earned a hard-fought 1-up victory over 2013 Girls’ Junior semifinalist Megan Khang. Seong, of the Republic of Korea, lost a 3-up lead and needed a clutch 25-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to secure the victory. Seong needed a similar 18-hole birdie at the WAPL to extend her first-round match to extra holes, and she won with a birdie at the 19th hole.
Third-seeded Mariel Galdiano was upset, 3 and 2, by Jiyoon Jang. Galdiano also lost in the first round at last week’s WAPL.
The 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play. The championship is scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final at 9:30 a.m. MST on Saturday.
The U.S. Girls’ Junior is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
-photo courtesy of the USGA
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