Ina Kim-Schaad (USGA photo)
It is just over 2,300 miles from Midtown Manhattan to the high terrain of Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Ariz. Yet the 33rd U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship has become a battle of two New York City residents – Talia Campbell and Ina Kim-Schaad – who on Wednesday each won two matches to earn their place in Thursday’s championship match.
The 18th hole of the Meadow Course proved pivotal, and 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief was at center stage in both the morning quarterfinals and afternoon semifinals.
Greenlief rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt to extend a quarterfinal match she would win in 21 holes over No. 57 seed Andrea Kosa. Coming to the hole tied in the afternoon semifinals, she flew the green with her approach shot and made bogey to Campbell’s par to lose, 1 up, in a match that featured six holes out of seven holes won with birdies on the back nine. Five times in the match Greenlief won a hole, only to lose the next hole to Campbell, and it happened for the final time when Greenlief birdied the par-3 17th, only to lose the match on the home hole.
“I hit it exactly how I wanted to, a little cut, and we just misjudged the wind,” said Greenlief, 29, of Ashburn, Va., of her approach shot on the 395-yard 18th. “It put me in a really bad spot, and she made a great up-and-down.”
Like Greenlief in 2015, Campbell, 25, is hoping to capture this championship in her first try, having made a 4-footer for her scrambling par on No. 18 to earn a berth in the final after notching a 3-and-2 win over No. 5 seed Megan Buck in the morning.
“It was a dogfight,” said Campbell, who grew up in Dallas and works with noted instructor Cameron McCormick. “I think it’s a testament to her, too. She’s such a great player. You see her picture hanging up around here [as 2015 champion]. I’m very glad to have survived.”
Campbell qualified as the No. 20 seed and survived a 19-hole match in the Round of 64 with Marissa Mar, then reeled off three more wins before ousting Greenlief. Campbell’s semifinal victory marked the first time she played holes 17 and 18 since the first round.
Campbell will square off on Thursday at 9 a.m. Mountain Standard Time in the 18-hole final against Kim-Schaad, 35, the No. 11 seed, who eliminated four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 3 and 2, in the afternoon after defeating No. 3 seed Michelle Butler, 4 and 3, in the quarterfinals. Kim-Schaad, a Los Angeles, Calif., native, returned to the game after an 11-year hiatus in 2016 when she moved to New York City from Hong Kong.
“If I had let myself think about it for a nanosecond, I would have been absolutely intimidated,” said Kim-Schaad, who also defeated defending champion Shannon Johnson in the Round of 16. “I just tried to play my own game and not worry about what the other person was doing or who they were or who they beat or how they did last year. It’s just way too much. I literally was just in my own bubble.”
“Ina got off to an incredible start,” said Stasi, 41, who defeated Katie Miller, 5 and 4, in the morning. “She had four birdies on the front nine, and I was just trying to hang in there by making par putts. She just hit the ball solid, which you have to, because the wind is swirling and it’s mentally and physically draining.”
Players who reached the quarterfinals earn an exemption into next year’s championship at Berkeley Hall Club in Bluffton, S.C. Semifinalists earn a two-year exemption, and the runner-up receives a three-year exemption.
ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur
The U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur originated in
1987 to provide a national competitive arena
for amateurs 25 and older. Besides the age
restriction, the event is open to those with a
USGA Handicap Index of 9.4 or lower. It is
one of 14 national championships conducted
annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly
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