Lee, Morard throw down birdies on soft setup for Women's Am lead
Michaela Morard (Steve Gibbons/USGA)
Michaela Morard (Steve Gibbons/USGA)

Take it from Andrea Lee: After the first two rounds of of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, it’s anyone’s ball game. Lee, soon to be a Stanford senior and a veteran of five of these things, should know.

“Match play is a whole different type of tournament, so it's going to take a lot, and just got to dig deep and stay really patient throughout the week and hopefully win a few matches,” said Lee.

Still, there is something to be said for entering that match-play gauntlet in a favorable position on the bracket. That’s where Lee did herself a favor on Monday at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss. Her opening 5-under 67 included three consecutive birdies on Nos. 16-18 (Lee started her round on the back nine). It gave her a share of the lead.

Lee has reached the end of a summer in which she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open and made the cut and more recently, contended at the Canadian Women’s Amateur before coming up with a third-place finish.

Her best previous finish at this event was a trip to the semifinals in 2014.

Lee shares the top spot on the leaderboard with Michaela Morard, a 17-year-old Huntsville, Ala., native who will join the Crimson Tide roster in 2020. Morard also went on a birdie run Monday, making four consecutive to end her round.

In order to do that, she had to straighten her driver out over the front nine. It’s a good thing she did, because several holes on Old Waverly’s back nine surround Lake Waverly. Accuracy is critical.

“On the back nine … I figured out how to keep my foot down in my swing, which I wasn’t on the front, and then I started hitting fairways, which gave me good shots into the green,” said Morard, who lost in the Round of 32 in the U.S. Girls’ Junior two weeks ago when Rose Zhang played 8-under golf over 12 holes. “And then I started just hitting them to like 3 or 4 feet and then making putts.”

Lauren Hartlage, who will be a senior at Louisville, continued the kind of good play on Monday that left her as the LNGA Amateur runner-up a week ago at the Golf Club of Tennessee, last year’s Women’s Amateur venue. Hartlage, at 4 under, is solo third.

The Kentucky native was scheduled to defend her Kentucky Women’s Open title this week but qualifying for the Women’s Amateur changed her itinerary. This is her second major women’s amateur start of the year after qualifying for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April.

Lee’s Stanford teammate Albane Valenzuela, who made the cut at the Evian Championship (an LPGA major) two weeks ago is part of a four-woman tie for fourth at 3 under. Valenzuela was runner-up in this event two years ago.

Other notable performances came from Alexa Pano, who uncharacteristically bowed out in the first round of match play at the U.S. Girls’ Junior last month. Pano opened with 2-under 70. Lauren Greenlief, a former U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion who made the quarterfinals at this event last year, had 72.

Quotes and information from the USGA used in this report

Results: U.S. Women's Amateur
WinAustraliaGabriela RuffelsAustralia2000
Runner-upSwitzerlandAlbane ValenzuelaSwitzerland1500
SemifinalsNJMegha GanneHolmdel, NJ1000
SemifinalsCAAndrea LeeHermosa Beach, CA1000
QuarterfinalsCACaroline CanalesCalabasas, CA700

View full results for U.S. Women's Amateur

ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Amateur

The U.S. Women's Amateur, the third oldest of the USGA championships, was first played in 1895 at Meadowbrook Club in Hempstead, N.Y. The event is open to any female amateur who has a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 5.4. The Women's Amateur is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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