Ela Belen Anacona (WWGA photo)
Medalist Ela Belen Anacona, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, coasted to victory Thursday in her opening match to move into Friday’s Round of 16 match play in the 119th Women’s Western Amateur at Royal Melbourne Country Club.
Anacona, 18, defeated Marissa Kirkwood of New Castle, Pennsylvania, a senior at Kent State, on the 14th hole, posting a 5 and 4 victory. Earlier this summer, Kirkwood won the inaugural Donna Andrews Invitational.
Anacona said she benefited from having her close friend, Valentina Rossi, of Rosario, Argentina, caddie for her in the afternoon match. Rossi, 18, missed the 36-hole cut for match play by a stroke earlier Thursday.
“She helps me a lot,” said Anacona, who never trailed in her match. “She knows me really well because we play in tournaments together.”
An incoming freshman at the University of Arkansas, Anacona won the third hole to take an early lead, then holed a pair of 18-foot birdie putts – on Nos. 9 and 12 – to build a 5-up lead with just six holes to play. Each of the putts prompted a high-five from Rossi. The pair hope to keep their positive thoughts flowing Friday.
“I just try to be positive,” Anacona said. “Of course you have moments that you can’t, but I just keep trying.”
In the first match to end in the lower bracket, Tristyn Nowlin of Richmond, Kentucky, defeated Julia Potter-Bobb of Indianapolis, Indiana, 7 and 6.
Nowlin was the finalist and runner-up at last year’s Women’s Western Amateur. Potter-Bobb, 31, has played in Women’s Western events since 2002. Nowlin said the afternoon’s gusty winds didn’t affect her play.
“I have a lot of confidence in windy conditions,” said Nowlin, a senior at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “My caddie and I did a good job talking through my shots.”
Nowlin had nothing but good things to say about Potter-Bobb after the two played together all week.
“Julia played good. She was hitting her driver really well,” said Nowlin, 20. “She’s a great player with an awesome attitude. We had a great time this week.”
Nowlin is looking forward to the rest of match play, taking it one hole at a time.
“I love match play,” she said. “I get momentum when I see my putts drop. I get fearless and in the zone.”
Three matches were still in progress when play ended Thursday are set to resume at 6:30 a.m. Friday. Winners of the opening 16 matches will square off Friday morning for a chance to advance to Friday afternoon’s quarterfinals.
ABOUT THE Women's Western Amateur
Held without interruption since 1901, the Women's
Amateur has one of the most storied histories of any
golf event. 36 holes of stroke play qualifying
determines 32 players
for match play. Matches consist of 18 holes each
until the final
match which is 36 holes.
Entries are open to amateur girls and women who 1)
have an up-
to-date 18-hole USGA Handicap
Index not to exceed 7.4 under the USGA Handicap
System, or a
state or international equivalent
handicap system, and 2) are members of a properly
club or women’s golf group that is
a current WWGA member.
Awards: W. A. Alexander Cup – Champion;
‘Babe’ Didrikson Zaharias Memorial Trophy –
Margaret Lenz Trophy – Medalist; Medals -
Semifinalists and Quarterfinalists.
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