US Women's Four-Ball: Golf academy mates Barber, Saldaña prevail
- USGA photo
- USGA photo

The 26th seeded duo of Savannah Barber (Fort Worth, Tex.) and Alexa Saldaña (Mexico City, Mexico) upset the No. 4 seeded pairing of Ohio State freshman Jillian Bourdage and Casey Weidenfeld (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) 5&4 in the finals of the 6th USGA Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship, held this week at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Tex.

Barber and Saldaña, roommates at Crown Golf Academy in Arlington, Tex., pulled off consecutive upsets to claim the title on Wednesday, as the only double-digit seeded team remaining in the match play round when the semifinals began. After going 3 up through 10 holes in their semifinal match, the twosome fought off a valiant back nine comeback from the championship’s youngest team and co-medalists in stroke play, 13-year-old Gianna Clemente of Ohio, and 14-year-old Avery Zweig of Texas.

Following back-to-back pars on the 11th and 12th holes, the 3rd-seeded pairing of Clemente and Zweig quickly cut the deficit to one hole, and another par on the par-3 17th tied the match heading into the 18th hole. The semifinal match would go into extra holes, and would be won by Barber and Saldaña on the 2nd extra hole with a birdie on the par-5 11th hole.

Barber, who has verbally committed to play college golf at Oklahoma, and Saldaña, the 230th ranked junior in the Rolex AJGA Rankings, would go on to meet Bourdage and Weidenfeld in the finals. The 2019 USGA Women’s Amateur Four-Ball runners-up also needed 20 holes in their semifinal match to close out top-seeded co-medalists Alexa Pano (Lake Worth, Fla.) and Paris Hilinski (Palm Beach, Fla.).

Like Clemente & Zweig, Pano and Hilinski also mounted a valiant charge in the semifinals after facing a four-hole deficit with seven holes to play. After knotting the match up with a par on the 18th hole, they were bested by Bourdage and Weidenfeld, who carded a birdie on the second extra hole to win the match.

The two 20-hole semifinal matches are among the longest in USGA Women’s Amateur Four-Ball history in any match play round, surpassed only by four 21-hole matches, and a 22-hole match featuring Isabella Rawl and Karlee Vardas defeating Megan Buck and Shannon Johnson, during the first round of the 2019 championship. They now enter a three-way tie for longest semi-final match along with the 2019 semi-final match, also featuring Bourdage and Weidenfeld.

Bourdage, playing out of Tamarac, Fla., and Weidenfeld, who will play her college golf at Auburn starting next year, won the first hole of the final match, and held onto the 1 up lead through six holes. After Barber and Saldaña parred the par-5 7th hole and par-3 8th hole to go 1 up, it marked the first time in more than 70 holes of match play that the Floridians had surrendered a lead. The margin increased when Barber and Saldaña birdied the Par 4 10th hole to go 2 up, and they then closed out the match with three consecutive won holes (par, par, birdie) on 12, 13, and 14.

For their victory, Barber and Saldana will receive exemptions into the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Girls Junior Championships.

“This means so much,” said Barber. “It's really special.”

“We've been preparing for this for a few weeks,” said Saldana, “and we [thought we] had a good chance of winning.”

Their final match-winning margin of 5 & 4 is the largest winning margin in the final round of the USGA Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, surpassing the previous largest winning margin record of 4 & 3, done twice, most recently by Alice Chen and Taylor Totland, who defeated Sammi Lee and Mary Ellen Shuman at the 2017 USGA Women’s Amateur Four Ball, held in Myrtle Beach.

Barber and Saldaña defeated three different pairs by a margin of 4 & 3 to make it through the match-play rounds and into the finals; 7-seeded Tiffany Cao (Midlothian, Tex.) and Chelsea Romas (Coppell, Tex.) in the Round of 32, 23rd seed Vanessa Ho (San Diego, Calif.) and Karen Tsuru (Carlsbad, Calif.) in the Round of 16, and 31st seeded University of Kentucky teammates Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler in the quarterfinals.

Said Barber about their run, “As soon as we started getting to know the course better, we started hitting better and better shots, and it just created more momentum going into the other matches.”

View results for U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball
ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball

The U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball, the newest USGA championship, was played for the first time in 2015 at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon. It immediately became one of the USGA's most popular tournaments. The event, which has no age restriction, is open to those women with a Handicap Index of 14.4 or lower. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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