Pano advances, fog pushes Girls' Junior further off schedule
Alexa Pano (USGA photo)
Alexa Pano (USGA photo)

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (July 18, 2018) – The schedule remains jumbled at the U.S. Girls’ Junior as heavy fog off the Northern California coast continues to push back play. Players endured a nearly three-hour wait Wednesday before they could resume the second round of stroke play at Poppy Hills Golf Club. Only five of the scheduled 32 first-round matches were finished by the time play was called for darkness just after 8 p.m. PDT.

Stroke play was completed slightly after 1 p.m. and after an overnight wait, 15-year-old Lucy Li, 15, of Redwood Shores, Calif., officially earned medalist honors for a second consecutive year. Li, a member of the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup team last month, posted a 36-hole total of 11-under 131, one stroke shy of the championship record. She is the seventh player to win consecutive Girls’ Juniors.

Fellow Northern Californian Yealimi Noh, 16, of Concord, who won last week’s Girls Junior PGA Championship with a record 24-under-par total, made a strong bid to match Li, getting to 8 under par through 25 holes before settling for a 1-under 70 and a 6-under 136 total.

Noh didn’t use a caddie during stroke play.

“My friend (Yoonhee Kim) came up to caddie for me in match play,” she told the USGA. “In stroke play, I like playing by myself. A caddie is OK, but I like being in my own zone. Even raking bunkers and pushing a cart is part of my routine. It’s what I do in [most junior tournaments] because we don’t have caddies.”

Sisters Yu Wen Lu, 15, and Jing Wen Lu, 18, both from China and competing in their first U.S. Girls’ Junior, were two of the five competitors to finish; the former defeating Haeley Wotnosky, 2 and 1, and the latter edging Maria Jose Martinez Almeida, of Mexico, 1 up. Almeida’s younger sister, Maria Fernanda, also was eliminated on Wednesday by Heeji Kim, 16, of the Republic of Korea, 5 and 4.

“A few holes, I just kind of had to wait it out,” Yu Wen Lu said of playing in the fog that hung over Poppy Hills. “On the 15th hole, the second shot, I could barely see the pin. I just waited for like a minute for the fog to clear. If we would have had to play one more hole, I don’t think we would have made it because the fog was getting pretty heavy.”

Alexa Pano, 13, of Lake Worth, Fla., lost the opening hole to University of Oregon rising sophomore Shotika Phadungmartvorakul, 18, of Bakersfield, Calif., before winning seven of the next 11 holes in rolling to a 6-and-5 victory. Doey Choi, 18, of Australia, built as much as a 4-up lead on 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball co-runner-up Ya Chun Chang, of Chinese Taipei, before settling for a 2-and-1 victory.

First-round matches will resume Thursday morning. The Round of 32, as well as the Round of 16 are scheduled to be contested on Thursday. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Friday, with the 36-hole championship match on Saturday.

It could make for an unusually grueling USGA Championship.

Information from the USGA used in this report

ABOUT THE U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur

The Girls Junior Amateur is one of 14 national championships conducted by the USGA. The event is open to female golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 9.4. 36 hole stroke play qualifying from which 64 players advance to match play. Regional qualifying held at sites around the United States.

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