U.S. Women's Four-Ball down to four sides for Wednesday finale
Megan Furtney and Erica Shepherd (USGA photo)
Megan Furtney and Erica Shepherd (USGA photo)

The No. 2-seeded team of Sadie Englemann, of Austin, Texas, and Rachel Heck, of Memphis, Tenn., earned two impressive match-play victories on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals of the 5th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Timuquana Country Club.

They will meet a tandem from the championship’s host state of Florida, No. 27-seeded Jillian Bourdage, of Tamarac, and Casey Weidenfeld, of Pembroke Pines, at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Bourdage and Weidenfeld ousted the defending champions, Katrina Prendergast and Ellen Secor, in 20 holes on Tuesday morning before holding off Thienna Huynh and Sara Im, 3 and 1, in the afternoon.

The four players will be familiar with each other, having played together in Saturday and Sunday stroke-play rounds. Englemann, 16, and Heck, 17, who will attend Stanford University starting in 2020, have not had to play past the 15th hole in their three match-play victories, earning a 4-and-3 win on Tuesday morning over Haylin Harris and Valery Plata, both of Michigan State, and a 6-and-5 afternoon win over No. 7 Isabella Rawl and Karlee Vardas.

“I think we played well when the other person was down,” said Englemann, who was co-medalist in the 2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior. “We never really played bad together, which was really important in both matches.”

No. 5-seeded Megan Furtney, of South Elgin, Ill., and Erica Shepherd, of Greenwood, Ind., survived in 19 holes over Caroline Curtis and Ashley Gilliam on Tuesday afternoon to advance to their second consecutive semifinals, where they hope to improve upon their 2018 loss to Prendergast and Secor.

“We’re really good friends with Ashley and Caroline, and we actually never played such good friends in match play,” said Shepherd, 18, the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. “That was definitely an adjustment. We all started off kind of slow and then we got it going down the stretch and it got pretty intense.”

Curtis, of Richmond, Va., birdied No. 18 to force extra holes, but Shepherd responded with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first hole to earn the victory.

“I was expecting it,” said Furtney of Curtis’ birdie on No. 18. “I think in match play you have to expect your opponent to always play the best and make every putt they have.”

Furtney and Shepherd will take on No. 8 seeds Amari Avery and Alexa Pano, who prevailed in 21 holes in the morning over Cory Lopez and Avery Zweig, 12, the championship’s youngest competitor. Avery and Pano ousted Whitney and Avery French, 5 and 3, the oldest remaining side at 28 and 24, respectively, in the quarterfinals.

“They didn’t miss a shot, so it was tough,” said Whitney French, of Monarch Beach, Calif., who advanced past the Round of 32 with her sister for the first time in three tries. “Each round that we won was just the cherry on top.”

For Shepherd and Furtney, the memory of last year provides motivation.

“We’re definitely still upset about what happened last year,” said Shepherd. “I think we have a little… we’re seeking revenge this year.”

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ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball

The U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball, the newest USGA championship, was played for the first time in 2015 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon. It immediately became one of the USGA's most popular tournaments. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those women with a Handicap Index of 14.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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