U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball; Defending champs, most medalists onto the Round of 16
Alice Ziyi Zhao and Angela Zhang
Alice Ziyi Zhao and Angela Zhang

The first match-play round of the 2023 USGA championship season is in the books, and it produced the typical array of winning moments for some, disappointment for others and dramatic swings of momentum on both sides. Long before the warm sun began to dip over the Olympic Mountains, six of the seven stroke play co-medalists in the 8th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., continued their strong play to advance to Tuesday morning’s Round of 16.

Among them were the No. 2-seeded side of Shannon Aubert and Calli Ringsby. The 27-year-old former Stanford teammates, the two oldest players remaining in the field, used their experience and poise to pull out a late victory.

Heading into the par-4 17th hole 2 down, Aubert holed her approach shot from 100 yards out. With their backs still against the wall on the par-4 18th hole 1 down to Amelia Guo and Grace Jin, Aubert and Ringsby made par to extend the match and then made quick work of their opponents with a birdie on the par-4 19th hole to secure the 1-up win.

“The 18th was crazy,” said Ringsby. “Amelia and I were in the front bunker, Grace was long, Shannon was in the other bunker. I hit my bunker shot to an inch. And they missed their up and downs. On to the next hole, and Shannon hits it to 2 feet. Quite a swing of momentum there.”

“Match play is so dependent on momentum,” said Aubert. “You have to try and grind it out, even if it seems like nothing is going right. Calli did a really good job of continuing to push and push, put enough pressure, so that when we had the moments we could capitalize.”

The other co-medalists to notch victories on Monday were defending champions Thienna Huynh and Sarah Im; 2021 champions Savannah Barber and Alexa Saldana; 2022 runners-up Kaitlyn Schroeder and Bailey Shoemaker; Anna Davis and Kiara Romero; and 14-year-olds Alice Ziyi Zhao and Angela Zhang.

“We wanted to get a better seed this year, so we took stroke play more seriously,” said Shoemaker. “We wanted to put ourselves in good position and give ourselves the best chance.”

The side of Zhao and Zhang created memorable fireworks en route to their triumph over Malak Bouraeda and Morgan Miller. Neither side led by more than 1-up over the course of the entire match, though Zhang and Zhao found themselves on the wrong end of that margin as they played the 18th hole. Perhaps drawing on her positive Pacific Northwest memories from earning co-medalist honors in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay, Zhao lined up a 65-foot birdie attempt and promptly made it, prompting Zhang and those watching from around the green to erupt in celebration.

“I wasn't sure it was going to get there!” said Zhao. “I've hit some long putts before, but nothing that long and nothing like that moment.”

Added Zhang, “It was the highlight of my golf career, and I wasn't even the one to putt! It’s a good reminder you are never out of it.”

The two sides battled for three more holes before Zhao again rose to the occasion, hitting a 108-yard approach shot on the par-4 21st hole to 10 inches to secure the winning birdie.

The most lopsided victory of the day belonged to Lindsay McGrath and Alissa Xu. The Canadian teenagers were the second alternates from their Commerce Township, Mich., qualifying site, and one week ago weren’t even sure they’d be in the field. They are making the most of their opportunity. Not only did they never trail in their match against Kyra Ly and Emily Song, but McGrath accomplished an improbably feat with two consecutive eagles on Holes 9 and 10.

On the par-4 9th, McGrath holed out with an 8-iron from 147 yards to give the side a commanding 4-up lead. On the next hole, a 507-yard par 5, McGrath pitched in from 20 yards short of the green, to the amazement and disbelief of all who witnessed it.

What’s Next
Tuesday is the first of two consecutive double-round days that will lead to the crowning of champions on Wednesday afternoon. The Round of 16 begins at 7 a.m. PDT, followed by the quarterfinals. The semifinals and 18-hole championship match take place on Wednesday.

by Greg Midland, USGA

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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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