Anna Redding (L) and Isabella Fierro (R) will play for the North & South championship
By Alex Podlogar
PINEHURST, NC (July 13, 2017) - Hours after winning the biggest match of her life, Anna Redding hit the greatest 5 iron of her life.
Now she is just 18 holes from history.
A year after being vanquished 7&6 in the quarterfinals by eventual champion Kristen Gillman, Redding avenged the defeat that has lingered in her mind every day since by beating Gillman in the quarterfinals of the 115th Women’s North & South Amateur on Thursday. She then followed that triumph later in the afternoon with a dramatic 2&1 victory over Gillman’s Alabama teammate Lakareber Abe to advance to the championship match against 16-year-old Mexican phenom Isabella Fierro.
“I’m trying to put it into words, but I’m just so overwhelmed,” Redding said, the joy mixed with relief evident in her voice. “I’m overcome with emotion.”
Redding, a junior at Virginia who has been coached by Pinehurst Resort lead instructor Kelly Mitchum, won the 2013 Girls North & South Junior. Playing her fourth Women’s North & South Amateur, Redding reached the semifinals in 2015 before the quarterfinal loss to Gillman in 2016.
“Last year was no contest,” Redding said of the loss. “(Kristen) just whaled on me.”
This time was different. After a birdie on the 3rd hole, Redding was 2-up, only for Gillman to square the match with a par on the 9th. Though Redding led 1-up after 14, Gillman evened the match again with a birdie on 15.
But Redding hit a deft approach shot from the right native area on 18, leaving herself about 25 feet for birdie. Gillman, who missed the fairway left, could only advance her ball a few yards. A two-putt par clinched the win for Redding, who emphatically embraced her mother after the match.
“It felt like redemption,” Redding said. “Kristen’s phenomenal, but finally I was able to push her and have the kind of match I had hoped to have one day against her.”
Hours later in the semifinal, however, Redding found herself in another tense match with Abe. Redding was 1-down after 11, but following about a 45-minute rain delay, Redding drained a birdie putt on 12 to even the match. Redding had good looks again at 13 and 14 that just wouldn’t fall, but made birdie at 15 to take a 1-up lead.
She found the fairway on the par-5 16th, and from 189 yards, took 5 iron.
“That was the best 5 iron I’ve ever hit in my life,” she said. “I’ve hit some good 5 irons, but that one was great.”
The approach nestled 12 feet left of the hole and Redding made the putt, closing out Abe to advance to the championship, where Redding will try to become the first North Carolina native to win the Women’s North & South Amateur since Cydney Clanton in 2010. Like Clanton, Redding is also from Concord.
There Redding will face Fierro, one of the top-ranked junior players in the world. Fierro, who won the South American Women’s Amateur in January to qualify for the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship next week in Sweden, has been mentored by Lorena Ochoa, the first Mexican golfer to be enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Just 16, Fierro has cruised through much of match play, with wins of 6&5 and 5&4. She beat Duke’s Sandy Choi 2-up in the semifinals to advance to the final.
“The U.S. Women’s Open, the North & South, Michelle Wie – to walk where all these players in history have walked is really special,” Fierro said. “For me to be the first Mexican in the finals means so much to me.”
It’s been a whirlwind experience in Pinehurst for Fierro. When her family landed in Raleigh last weekend, Fierro’s clubs didn’t make it. Twelve hours later they were delivered to her. There was only one problem.
“When I unpacked them, my driver was broken in two,” she said.
Scrambling to find another driver, Fierro finally settled on the same model, though the shaft was far heavier than her original.
“I thought it would a tough adjustment, but it hasn’t made too much of a difference,” Fierro said. “For a while I thought I might have to hit 3-wood for the week, but it’s working for me.
“It might be time for a change,” she quipped.
ABOUT THE North & South Women's Amateur
The Women's North & South has drawn the top
amateur women from around the country. Three
rounds of stroke play followed by four rounds of
match play will determine the Champion.
The 96 player field will be cut to a 16 player
match play field and medalist honors. All stroke
match play rounds will be contested on Pinehurst
No. 2. The top 16 players who qualify for match
play will play two rounds a day until our
Nine of the last 12 North & South Women’s
Amateur champions have drawn paychecks as
members of the LPGA Tour. The equation is near
perfect. Win the North & South Am, go on to
professional success at the highest level.
North & South champions are among the legends
of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs,
Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey, Brandie Burton, Brittany
Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.
Along with the Women's North & South,
Resort & Country Club annually plays host to the
Men's North & South, the Junior North & South,
and Senior Men's and Senior Women's North &
View Complete Tournament Information