Sophie Schubert (L) and Albane Valenzuela (R)
CHULA VISTA, CA (August 12, 2017) - There will be fire on Sunday as two college golfers duke it out for one of the most prestigious titles in women’s amateur golf. After six days at San Diego Country Club, it’s a Longhorn and Cardinal final at the U.S. Women’s Amateur as Stanford’s Albane Valenzuela
and Texas’ Sophia Schubert
are scheduled to meet for a 36-hole showdown.
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Valenzuela may lead in the experience department, even though she’s only a sophomore on the Stanford team. Just last month she was second in the European Ladies Amateur championship. A year ago at this time, she was representing her home nation of Switzerland in the summer Olympics. On Saturday, Valenzuela outlasted fellow Pac-12 golfer Lilia Kha-Tu Vu
, and only needed 16 holes to do it.
Vu even had the 1-up lead for most of the match after Valenzuela made bogey at No. 5, but the momentum changed right after the turn. Valenzuela won Nos. 10, 11 and 12, and Vu never could crack back in. Valenzuela lipped out a birdie putt at No. 7 that would have helped her get the match in her favor even quicker, but felt the momentum change immediately after that.
“Starting on 10, I hit a really good 4-iron into the green and really that got me going, and then also my shot on 11 was really good,” she said. “I was really happy with my ball-striking. Even on the first nine holes they were still really good shots. … Overall my game has been pretty steady the entire now five matches.”
No Swiss player has won the U.S. Women’s Amateur, so Valenzuela has a chance to make history on Sunday. By being a finalist, she already has earned her way into the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open.
“I came really close also last time to being the first to win the European Championship,” she said of last month’s experience. “Now if I can make it here, that would be really awesome. This is the best tournament you can get in amateur golf. If I'm able to pull it out, that would be awesome. But still even make it to the finals is a very big achievement.”
Winning, of course, means getting past opponent Schubert, who was able to knock off Chia Yen Wu
on Saturday after a tremendous run to the finals. Wu had been the player who wouldn’t die in this championship, surviving an 11-for-8 playoff just to reach match play, then drawing Washington standout Julianne Alvarez
in the first round and past U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman
in the Round of 16. Perhaps most memorably, she fought for 30 holes in her quarterfinal match with Lauren Stephenson
, eventually making a long par putt to advance.
“Today first nine I think my muscles and my body feel tired, so my iron distance changed,” said Wu, of Taiwan, “so I can't make a birdie.”
As for Schubert, she made birdies in all the right places as Wu lost a little steam. Give credit to the Texas senior for hitting exactly the shot that was called for at exactly the time she needed it down the stretch.
“I think it was triggered because I knew that she was going to hit it close and I expected her to make a lot of putts, and so I just thought, be aggressive, give it all you've got and hit it close,” Schubert said.
Wu matched when she could – like on the par-3 11th, when Schubert knocked it tight and Wu knocked it tighter. Both players left that hole with birdie, but Schubert was able to make two more on the following two holes.
She admits that Wu was no easy match, despite her young age.
“I'm shocked she's only 13 years old,” Schubert said. “She plays like she's 25.”
Schubert herself is a self-described perfectionist, humble about her game but an excellent green reader. She admits she doesn’t know much about Valenzuela but knows that Sunday will be no cake walk.
“I think it sounds like our games are really similar, so it's going to be really tough,” she said. “Yeah, I think we're both very competitive, so we'll see how it goes.”
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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