Isabella Fierro celebrates with her caddie on the way to upending
local favorite Haley Moore in the round of 16 (USGA photo)
CHULA VISTA, CA (August 10, 2017) - For the most part, the matches were lopsided and the margins big Thursday afternoon at San Diego Country Club. As the U.S. Women’s Amateur field was whittled from 16 to 8 by the end of the day, top seeds and local favorites were among those to fall.
Perhaps none gave a better fight than top-seeded Shannon Aubert
. Before meeting 14-year-old Lucy Li
, Aubert had been the buzz saw ending matches quickly and confidently. She had a four-shot cushion to even get the top seed, needed only 14 holes in her first match, then took down fellow Frenchwoman Agathe Laisne
with five birdies in the Round of 32.
Related: U.S. Women's Amateur Round of 32: Two Matches End Early
When Aubert, the Stanford senior, met Li, however, she suddenly found herself 4 down after 11. A veteran in this format, Aubert kept her head down and played hard.
“It’s never over until it’s over,” she said, “even if you’re 4 down and you feel like you’re playing terrible or you’re playing against someone who never made a mistake.”
Aubert birdied No. 15 to take one back, then holed a must-make 4-footer for birdie at No. 16. Suddenly 2 down, she used the slope of the green on a tricky approach into No. 17 and her ball fed back to about a foot from the hole. A third birdie kept her alive.
Had Aubert made her 40-footer for birdie – and she nearly did – at the 18th, it could be a different story.
“We’ve had a lot of teams hole out on us at Stanford so was like maybe I can be on the other side of that and feel the joy,” she said. “I was lucky it hit the pin if we’re being completely honest.”
Instead, Li, of Redwood Shores, Calif., advanced in what is an unbelievable third U.S. Women’s Amateur for a girl of 14. The quarterfinals, however, are as far as she has ever advanced. It’s odd to think of a player Li’s age as a veteran, but she reflects on her many experiences as one.
“I've learned a lot about match play because I used to get really flustered or upset after I hit a couple bad shots or maybe started to let leads slip away, but now just learning to be a lot more calm on the golf course,” she said after the round.
Li will take on a fellow California player on Friday, Lilia Kha-Tu Vu
of Fountain Valley, Calif., who has an equally impressive resume. Li, who dusted opponent Sarah Rhee
(a vital member of the University of Washington’s 2016 national championship-winning squad) on Thursday, will be a junior at UCLA in the fall. She won the individual title at the Pac-12 Championship last year, and in the run-up to the Women’s Amateur, was runner-up at the Canadian Women’s Amateur last week.
Among the notable players to fall on Thursday were Robynn Ree
, who knocked off Tze Han Lin
in a 9-and-8 morning rout. Ree, who plays for USC, couldn’t get by Karen Miyamoto
of Japan. Kristen Gillman
, who won this championship in 2014 also lost to Taiwan’s Chia Yen Wu
, 3 and 1. Wu’s run from the No. 63 seed seems particularly noteworthy considering she had to advance through an 11-for-8 playoff just to get this spot.
Local crowds lost their rooting interest Thursday when Haley Moore
, of nearby Escondido, Calif., fell to Isabella Fierro
, 6 and 4. Fierro calls Lorena Ochoa her mentor and is coming off a victory
at the North & South Women’s Amateur.
ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Amateur
The U.S. Women's Amateur, the third
the USGA championships, was first played
at Meadowbrook Club in Hempstead, N.Y.
event is open to any female amateur who
USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 5.4.
Women's Amateur is one of 14 national
championships conducted annually by the
10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
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