Latanna Stone (USGA Photo)
The gutsiest performance of the day belonged to Latanna Stone, who beat fellow 2022 USA Curtis Cup teammate Rachel Kuehn in the Round of 32, then rallied from 5 down to knock off 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Yana Wilson in 20 holes at the U.S. Women's Amateur at Bel-Air Country Club.
In that afternoon match, Stone lost five consecutive holes starting at No. 3. She stopped the bleeding with a winning birdie at the par-5 eighth, but still trailed 4 down with six holes to go. The graduate student at LSU then reeled off three consecutive birdies at Nos. 13-15 to cut the deficit to 1 down and forced extra holes when Wilson missed the fairway and bogeyed the 18th.
It appeared Stone had clinched the match on the par-5 19th after lagging her eagle putt to within 18 inches, but a stunning lip out sent the match onward. On the par-4 20th, both players hit the green, and Stone atoned for her miss on the previous hole with a clutch 25-foot birdie putt. When Wilson’s birdie bid from 10 feet slid by the right edge, the stunning comeback was complete.
“It was a tough match,” said Stone, 21, of Riverview, Fla. “We both played really well, and she was fighting back and so was I. The final stretch was when I was like, okay, I'm making a lot of putts, I'm playing really good. I really hadn't felt like that in the beginning of the round at all. I was just able to turn it around and flip the match.”
Rachel Heck may not have prepared the way she’s accustomed to for this year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur, but she is once again making a deep run in one of the biggest events in amateur golf.
Heck, 21, of Memphis, Tenn., won a pair of matches on Thursday, leaning on her experience and grit to advance to the quarterfinals in her seventh U.S. Women’s Amateur appearance, the most of any player in this year’s field.
Heck fell 2 down early to Rin Yoshida in the Round of 32 but rallied for a 4-and-2 victory, then sprinted out of the gate against 15-year-old Nikki Oh in the afternoon, cruising to a 4-and-3 win.
Before the start of the championship, Heck had only played one competitive round in nine months. Last fall, she was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and had surgery in early March. In late July, she completed her 18-day Air Force ROTC field training – a two-and-a-half week stretch in which she didn’t pick up a golf club or use her phone.
“Going into the week I had absolutely no idea how it would go,” said Heck, a rising senior at Stanford. “I didn't think it would go too great at all considering it's my first tournament back since October. I'm just grateful to be here. I'm soaking it all in and not putting too much pressure on myself. I felt super relaxed out there today, so I think that mindset has helped a lot.”
The only USGA champion remaining is Thienna Huynh, who won the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with partner Sara Im. The rising sophomore at UNLV was 1 down with two holes to play in her morning match, but birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to squeak past Canadian Lauren Kim and did not lose a hole in her afternoon match, a 4-and-3 triumph over Taylor Riley.
“I would definitely say my game changes a lot when I go into match play,” said Huynh, 19, of Lilburn, Ga. “I like to go hole by hole, shot by shot. I'm pretty good about dismissing bad shots and even after a good shot I can keep going and keep the momentum going.”
Other players to win two matches on Thursday were 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion Anna Davis; Oregon State rising sophomore Kyra Ly; Auburn University graduate student Megan Schofill; University of Michigan fifth-year senior Hailey Borja; and Princeton’s Catherine Rao, who reached the U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Amateur
The U.S. Women's Amateur, the third
the USGA championships, was first played
at Meadowbrook Club in Hempstead, N.Y.
event is open to any female amateur who
USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 5.4.
Women's Amateur is one of 14 national
championships conducted annually by the
10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
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