Emilia Migliaccio after rolling in a birdie putt to stay alive (USGA photo)
A long and grueling day was in store for those who earned a spot into the Round of 32. After Hurricane Isaias washed out Tuesday, the USGA had to adjust the match play rounds to accommodate the championship weekend.
After two rounds of matches on Friday, eight women remain in the hunt for the 120th U.S. Women's Amateur Championship at Woodmont Country Club. Here they are:
The 2019 U.S Women’s Amateur champion must feel comfortable when faced with adversity. Gabriela Ruffels has been down in all three of her matches this week when standing on the ninth tee box. All three times she has mounted a comeback to keep her title defense alive.
“I've been down in all of my matches, but No. 9 has been a big turning point for me,” Ruffels told the USGA. “If I can be close heading to the back nine, then I feel like I have an advantage.”
Advancing farther than any defending champ since Danielle Kang in 2011, Ruffels took down the 2019 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Lei Ye 2 up in the morning session and Teresa Toscano Borrero 4&2 in the afternoon session to punch her ticket to the Elite Eight.
The USC Trojan will face Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com’s No. 1 ranked woman Emilia Migliaccio in the quarterfinals.
Boasting a 17-1-1 match play record in ranked events since 2017, Wake Forest’s Emilia Migliaccio came into the week as a favorite to claim her first USGA title.
Squaring off against 30-seed Amari Avery, Migliaccio made easy work to advance to the Round of 16 with a 3&2 win. However, Auburn’s Megan Schofill gave Migliaccio a run for her money, nearly giving her her second match play loss in over three years.
In hindsight, it was best for Migliaccio that she put Avery away when she did. All square with Schofill on the 18th, Schofill nearly holed out from 150 yards, leading to a conceded birdie. With a 15-foot putt separating Migliaccio from a plane ride home or a chance to continue her run, she nailed the putt which was capitalized with a huge fist pump and a wave of momentum.
After a near-miss birdie from four feet on the 21st hole to win the match, Migliaccio rallied on the 22nd with yet another 15-foot putt to clinch her spot in the quarterfinals.
“I'm just so happy,” said Migliaccio. “This is the first time I've ever been in extra holes in match play. I really want this thing, so I really fought for it.” Her marathon day will be rewarded with a 7:30 am ET match against the defending champ, Gabriela Ruffels.
It has been almost three decades since the stroke-play medalist has also has won the U.S. Women’s Amateur. That streak continued Friday as 16-seed Rose Zhang defeated Rachel Heck in the Round of 16. Zhang won her Round of 32 match over Maria Bohorquez 2 up as Heck took care of 32-seed Cecilie Finne-Ipsen 4&3.
The duo duked it out over the course of the round with Zhang landing the knockout punch on No. 18.
Taking out the No. 1 seed without her “A-game”, Zhang was still able to claw her back from 2 down at the turn.
“I just had to stick in there mentally. I was 2 down at the turn. I just thought about doing whatever it takes to put the ball in play and give myself some chances.”
Zhang faces 24-seed Kaleigh Telfer at 7:00 am ET on Saturday.
In the second Auburn-Wake Forest match of the day (Migliaccio v Schofill), South African native Kaleigh Telfer helped the Tigers split bragging rights with the Demon Deacons.
Beating Emily Mahar in the Round of 32, Telfer was tasked with facing arguably the hottest amateur golfer on the planet in Rachel Kuehn. Coming off of back-to-back wins at the Women’s North & South as well as the LNGA Championship, Kuehn was maintaining her torrid pace at Woodmont Country Club.
Telfer won the match 2&1 by applying consistent pressure and jumping out to an early lead, not allowing Kuehn to gain any momentum.
The Auburn senior will continue her quest against Rose Zhang in the Elite Eight.
(Newport Beach, Calif.)
Malaysian born Alyaa Abdulghany won her morning match 4&2 over Marissa Kirkwood en route to squaring off with 29-seed Ellie Slama.
The duo had a back and forth battle that had six lead changes. The last and most important lead change came on the 14th hole when Abdulghany tied the match with a par. All square through No. 16, Abdulghany iced the match with back-to-back birdies on holes Nos. 17 and 18 to advance.
Abdulghany will face 5-seed Riley Smyth for the first half of Saturday’s play.
The Virginia Cavalier needed 39 holes to advance to Saturday. After beating Addie Baggarly 1 up in the morning session, Smyth was entangled in a 21 hole marathon battle against 53-seed Lauren Beaudreau.
Beaudreau, who held a 2 up lead three times throughout the round, lost her final two-hole advantage on the par-3 16th. Smyth knocked in a birdie on No. 16 and a par No. 17 to square the match heading to the 18th. The pair stayed deadlocked until Smyth birdied the par-5 4th (hole 21) to secure her spot against Abdulghany.
Colombian native Valery Plata began her day as one of six single-digit seeds. With Heck making her exit in the Round of 16, Plata is the highest-seeded player remaining in the championship.
Defeating Zoe Antoinette Campos 2 up in the morning, Plata made quick work of Tyler Akabane. Commanding a 3 up lead through the first three holes, Plata took that lead through the turn.
Never letting Akabane get closer than 2 down, Plata locked herself into the Elite Eight after halving the 16th with Akabane for a 3&2 victory.
Plata will face 23-seed Kennedy Swann to kick-off her Saturday.
Ole Miss fifth-year senior Kennedy Swann stayed consistent in her two wins on Friday. Defeating Bohyun Park 2&1 Friday morning, Swann did the same against Oklahoma State’s Isabella Fierro.
A back and forth battle that featured three lead changes, Fierro and Swann never let each other out of their crosshairs. Swann managed to grab a 1 up lead through No. 9 after being 2 down No. 2 and 1 down after No. 6.
Swann maintained her 1 up lead through No. 12 before Fierro knotted the match up on No. 13. Taking back command of the match with a par on the par-4 14th, Swann won the match on No. 17 with a conceded par.
Quarterfinal play begins at 7:00 am ET. The field will be cut to just two following the conclusion of play on Saturday. TV coverage of the event will begin at 12:00 pm ET on Golf Channel.