Co-medalist and 2015 champion Laura Greenlief is on to the round of 32
HOUSTON, TX (November 13, 2017) - Medalists Katie Miller, 32, of Jeannette, Pa.; Lauren Greenlief, 27, of Ashburn, Va.; and Marissa Mar, 25, of San Francisco, Calif., each won Round-of-64 matches Monday in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship on the par-72, 6,022-yard Cypress Creek Course at Champions Golf Club.
Related: Trio of players share U.S. Women's Mid-Am Medalist Honors
Miller, who joined Greenlief and Mar with stroke-play scores of 2-under-par 142 and is the championship’s top seed, defeated Liliana Ruiz-Munoz, of Colombia, 4 and 3. Greenlief, the No. 2 seed in the match-play bracket, upended Deborah Munoz, 32, of Boca Raton, Fla., 5 and 4. Mar, who is competing in her first U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and is the No. 3 seed, posted a 2-and-1 victory over Alyssa Roland, 28, of New York, N.Y.
“It’s a marathon no matter who you play, what seed they are, in my mind,” said Miller, who won four consecutive holes early in the match and never trailed. “I can’t be studying the bracket, who is where and what’s going to happen. I just really need to focus on what’s going on right now.”
The U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship continues with the Round of 32 and Round of 16 on Tuesday. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be played on Wednesday. The championship concludes with an 18-hole final on Thursday, Nov. 16, starting at 9 a.m. CST.
Miller, who reached the quarterfinals in this championship last year, used a 56-degree wedge to avoid a tree limb on her approach shot to the par-4 second. Her 12-foot birdie putt, with a left-to-right break, jump-started her run. She later hit a draw off the tee on the 144-yard, par-3 eighth that positioned her for a 15-foot birdie putt and a 4-up lead. Miller increased her margin with a winning birdie on the par-5 11th that was set up by a strategic 60-degree wedge for her third shot.
“With the hole locations, not only were they only four and five paces from the edges of the greens, they were on very severe slopes as well,” said Miller, who cared a 2-under 142 in two rounds of stroke play. “So I felt like I was on defense, and in a match-play situation I usually like a little bit more of an aggressive go-mode feeling.”
Greenlief, who won the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur title, birdied three of the opening five holes. She manufactured an unexpected birdie on the first hole with a nifty approach from a fairway bunker that set up a 10-foot putt. Greenlief then struck a 7-iron to within 6 inches on the par-3 fourth and sank a short putt for birdie on the following hole.
“My tempo feels a lot better than it did the beginning of the week,” said Greenlief, who matched the lowest 18-hole score in championship history and set the competitive course record with a 68 in the second round of stroke play on Sunday. “Kind of felt rusty, and it’s gotten better every day. I feel like my swing is really – the tempo is there and it’s locked in.”
Greenlief, who was a walk-on player at the University of Virginia, added to her lead by winning holes 9 and 12 with a birdie and par, respectively. She hit a 230-yard 3-wood into the back bunker with her second shot to the par-5 ninth, but got up and down by blasting to 3 feet.
Mar, who carded rounds of 70 and 72 in stroke play, had to hold off her first-round opponent after building a 5-up margin through nine holes. Roland, who advanced in an 8-for-5 playoff to the match-play bracket earlier in the day, was just 2 down after 15, but Mar steadied herself with a tee shot to within 11 feet on the 131-yard, par-3 16th and eventually advanced.
“When it got to just 2 up, I was pretty flustered at that point,” said Mar, who was a member of the Stanford University team from 2010-14. “It was one of those moments where I was really bummed that I had fallen asleep on the last few holes and my decision-making wasn’t as clear as it had been the last couple of days.”
Her play was precise at the beginning of the match when she lifted a 5-iron over the flagstick to within 20 feet to birdie the first hole. She later won three of four holes with pars before hitting her third shot to 3 feet for a birdie at the par-5 ninth.
Shannon Johnson, last year’s Women’s Mid-Amateur runner-up at The Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa., won six of nine holes on the outward nine en route to a 7-and-6 victory over Jane Fitzgerald, 55, of Kensington, Md. Johnson, 34, of Norton, Mass., regained her rhythm after finishing the stroke-play portion of the championship with three consecutive bogeys and falling out of contention for medalist honors.
“I think my game feels good,” said Johnson, the No. 4 seed who shot rounds of 69 and 74 in qualify for match play. “Nice to see some putts roll in today. That’s kind of the whole thing, just getting confident with your putting and know that the putts are going to fall.”
Johnson had the right touch from the start when she holed a swinging right-to-left, 18-foot birdie putt on the par-4 second. After later winning three holes with pars, she delivered a pair of well-struck approaches to set up conceded birdies at Nos. 8 and 9, leading to a 6-up advantage.
Defending champion Julia Potter, who also won the title in 2013, broke away in the middle of her match from Lacy Shelton, 37, of Overland Park, Kan., to register a 2-and-1 triumph. Potter, 30, of Indianapolis, Ind., has won 19 of her 21 matches played in five Women’s Mid-Amateur starts.
“You don’t have to be good, you have to be good enough; that’s match play,” said Potter, who overcame a balky putter when she went ahead to stay with a conceded birdie on No. 9 and a par-saving 25-foot putt on No. 10.
Four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi and Martha Leach, the 2009 Women’s Mid-Amateur winner, each moved into the Round of 32. Stasi, 39, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., got past Kathy Glennon, 51, of St. Albans, Mo., 2 and 1. Leach, 55, of Hebron, Ky., defeated Erin Packer, 39, of Peachtree City, Ga., 3 and 2.
Thuhashini Selvaratnam, 39, of Sri Lanka, outlasted Melissa Loh, 28, of Singapore, in 23 holes. It tied for the third-longest match in the Women’s Mid-Amateur record book. Tanna Lee and Carolyn Creekmore each won matches in 24 holes, in 1987 and 2007, respectively.
Hana Kim, 35, of Los Angeles, Calif., and her sister, Ina, 34, of New York, N.Y., experienced the highs and lows of match play. Hana, who competed on the LPGA Tour before regaining her amateur status, won two of her last three holes with pars to post a 2-up triumph over Lin Culver, 57, of Palm Coast, Fla. Ina fell to a big rally by Lisa Schlesinger, 59, of Fort Myers, Fla., 1 up. Schlesinger came from 3 down with six holes to play.
The USGA relocated the championship from Quail Creek Country Club in Naples, Fla., to Champions Golf Club due to extensive flood damage from Hurricane Irma. The Women’s Mid-Amateur was originally scheduled to be played Oct. 7-12.