Lauren Greenlief (USGA photo)
A matchup of two players who have combined to win three of the last six U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship titles proved memorable on Tuesday at Forest Highland Golf Club’s Meadow Course, as Lauren Greenlief, the 2015 champion, reeled off six birdies in the opening nine holes on the way to a 4-and-3 victory over No. 1 seed and two-time champion Julia Potter-Bobb.
Greenlief, 29, of Ashburn, Va., who posted a 7-and-6 win in the morning Round of 32 over Susan Roh, advances to the quarterfinals of this championship that she won in her debut start at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant, La., four years ago. She set the record as the youngest champion that year at 25 years, 25 days.
“This was actually the first time I ever played with Lauren competitively, either in match or stroke play,” said Potter-Bobb, who was seeking her third title after winning in 2013 and 2016, both times as a medalist. “She’s got a great game and when she’s on, she’s on.”
Greenlief won the first hole with a conceded birdie, then birdied the par-3 second from 18 feet and matched Potter-Bobb’s birdie from 6 feet on No. 4. On No. 5, Greenlief chipped in from 20 feet to protect her 2-up lead after Potter-Bobb had knocked her approach to within 2 feet for a conceded birdie.
“I realized when she made the chip-in on 5 that the only way I was going to catch her was with birdies,” said Potter-Bobb, whose 6-under total of 138 in stroke play broke the championship record by three shots. “As a player, I’ve been on both sides of it. Every time it looked like it was going to start to come my way, she was able to turn it back, and that’s the sign of a great competitor.”
Greenlief will take on No. 57 seed Andrea Kosa, of Canada, in Wednesday morning’s quarterfinal round. Kosa, 43, who competed in this championship in 2011 and missed the cut, defeated Heather McGinnis, 4 and 3, and Ket Preamchuen Vanderpool, 2 and 1, to earn her spot opposite Greenlief.
Only two of the seven past champions who started the day survived to the quarterfinals. Greenlief is joined by four-time champion Meghan Stasi, who last prevailed in 2012. Stasi, 41, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., defeated No. 2 seed Heather Wall, of Lakeland, Fla., 2 and 1, in the morning and edged Gina Bamberger, of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 20 holes in the Round of 16. Stasi made a two-putt par on the 176-yard, par-3 second hole and moved on when Bamberger missed an 8-foot par-saving try.
“Obviously, I’m glad I came out on top,” said Stasi, who improved to a 52-9 record in this championship in her 14th start. “If you’re going to lose, you want to lose to birdies and she made a few, so it was a fun match.”
Stasi will take on No. 39 seed Katie Miller, 34, of Jeannette, Pa., in the quarterfinal round. Miller, who reached the semifinals in 2016, defeated Mallory Hetzel in 19 holes in the morning and topped Alexandra Schilling, 2 and 1, in the afternoon.
“I don’t know exactly who the entire final eight is, but it’s a cast that we’re all very familiar with,” said Miller, who is competing in her fifth U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. “Lauren and I play in U.S. [Women’s Amateur] Four-Ball together and I’ve played with Meghan and Ina [Kim-Schaad] a good bit, so we definitely cross paths a lot.”
No. 11 seed Kim-Schaad, 35, of New York, N.Y., eliminated defending champion Shannon Johnson, 5 and 4, after ousting Katrina Camitoc, 6 and 5, earlier in the day. Kim-Schaad made five birdies (with match play concessions) and closed out the win over Johnson with a birdie on the par-5 14th.
“It was one of those days where I just felt really confident over the ball, hitting, chipping, putting,” said Kim-Schaad. “Shannon is such a phenomenal player. Obviously, she’s defending champion, so that was humbling for me. A few putts got away from her and I was able to seize those opportunities.”
Next for Kim-Schaad is Michelle Butler, the No. 3 seed from Columbia, Mo., who reached the semifinals last year in her debut. Butler edged Catherine Elliott-Powell, 1 up, in the morning and won convincingly, 8 and 6, over Katie Elliott-Johnson in the afternoon.
Megan Buck, the No. 5 seed, and No. 20 seed Talia Campbell will square off in the other quarterfinal. Campbell, who is making her debut at 25, topped 2018 semifinalist Gretchen Johnson in the afternoon after defeating Kay Daniel, 4 and 3 in the morning. Buck got past Erin Houtsma in 19 holes in the afternoon after posting a 2-and-1 win over Paige McCullough in the morning.