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Medalist Zhang among Final 8 at 72nd U.S. Girls' Junior
Photo courtesy of USGA
Photo courtesy of USGA

Rose Zhang and Bailey Davis, the two highest remaining seeds in the 72nd U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, each won a pair of matches in commanding fashion on Thursday. Neither had to play past the 16th hole to advance to the quarterfinals at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md.

Zhang, the top-ranked amateur in the world, won seven of her first 12 holes in her Round of 16 match against Rianne Mikhaela Malixi, five of them with birdies. In the afternoon, she built an early lead against fellow Southern Californian Amari Avery, then reeled off consecutive birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to close her out, 4 and 2.

“It was just a great day overall,” said Zhang, 18, of Irvine, Calif. “[Amari] played amazing. It was kind of sad that we got drawn since we are friends, but it was a pretty tight match.”

Zhang’s father, Henry, caddied for her during her 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur victory, but parents are not permitted to caddie for their children in USGA junior championships. Instead, Zhang opted for Columbia member Doug Hurson this week. She credits Hurson, a former collegiate golfer and two-time club champion, for assisting with his local knowledge and positive reinforcement.

“Doug on the bag has really helped me in terms of course management and reading putts well,” said Zhang. “I contribute a lot of my shots to him, and it's really good to have someone who can confirm your line.”

Since 2019, Zhang has won 12 of 13 matches in USGA championships, with her only loss coming to 2021 U.S. Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Girls’ Junior. On Friday, she will face 14-year-old Yana Wilson, of Henderson, Nev., who dispatched Karoline Tuttle, 4 and 3, in the Round of 16.

Davis, 18, lives in White Plains, Md., less than 50 miles from Columbia, and has been commuting back and forth each day. The three-time Maryland high school state champion survived a 19-hole match in the Round of 64 by holing a wedge for eagle, then breezed through both of her matches on Thursday, never trailing.

“It was a lot less stressful today,” said Davis, the No. 3 seed. “A lot of people congratulated me on the exciting finish, but I really wanted to put that match aside and get a fresh start for today. I got off to solid starts in both matches and just tried to keep it steady.”

Bailey Shoemaker continued her dominant run with a 4-and-3 victory over Avery Zweig in the Round of 16. She was 1 down after six holes but reeled off wins on six of the next eight holes to take control. Through three matches Shoemaker hasn’t been pushed past the 15th. That’s even more impressive considering she is a relative newcomer to the format.

“I've actually never really played match play,” said Shoemaker, 16, of West Edmeston, N.Y. “Last week at Wyndham Cup was my first time. I’ve always wanted to play because it’s fun. I'm one that likes to go at pins and be as aggressive as I can.”

The only non-American quarterfinalist is Paula Miranda, of Mexico, who is six days shy of her 18th birthday. She is playing in her first USGA championship and has needed to go the distance in each of her first three matches, winning all of them 1 up.

Other players to win two matches on Thursday include a trio of 16-year-olds: Kaitlyn Schroeder, of Jacksonville, Fla.; Katie Li, of Basking Ridge, N.J.; and Karen Tsuru, of Carlsbad, Calif.

What’s Next
The quarterfinal matches will begin at 7:15 a.m. EDT on Friday with the first of two semifinal matches set to start at 1 p.m. Live coverage will be on Peacock from 3-5 p.m. EDT. The 36-hole final on Saturday will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT, with live coverage on Golf Channel beginning at 1 p.m.

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ABOUT THE U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur

The Girls Junior Amateur is one of 14 national championships conducted by the USGA. The event is open to female golfers who have not reached their 19th birthday prior to the close of competition and whose USGA Handicap Index does not exceed 9.4. 36 hole stroke play qualifying from which 64 players advance to match play. Regional qualifying held at sites around the United States.

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