Latanna Stone and Megan Schofill (USGA Photo)
If Latanna Stone goes on to win the 123rd U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, she will have earned it.
In a performance that is reminiscent of Sam Bennett’s run at last year’s U.S. Amateur (he took out the 8, 9, 10 and 13th ranked players in the world) at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., en route to the title, Stone has now beaten the Nos. 7, 10 and 25 players in the Women's World Amateur Golf Ranking® to reach Sunday’s 36-hole championship match at Bel-Air Country Club.
In addition to their high rankings, Stone’s five wins came against three of her 2022 USA Curtis Cup teammates (Amari Avery, Rachel Kuehn and Rachel Heck), the 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion (Yana Wilson) and the 2022 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball champion Thienna Huynh.“I've just dreamed about this,” said Stone, who is entering her fifth year at LSU this fall.
“This is always how I think about how much it takes [to win] and, oh my gosh, I can't imagine playing all those matches, but here I am playing all these dang matches.”
In Saturday’s semifinal matchup, Stone set the tone early, recovering from an errant tee shot on the par-5 first hole that found the barranca left of the fairway to card a birdie and a quick 1-up advantage.
After Heck tied the score with a par on the second hole, Stone would regain a 1-up lead after the fourth hole, before extending that lead to 4 up at the turn. That stretch would include four birdies in five holes, with no birdie putt exceeding 12 feet.
"The gears up here in my head are really turning this week,” said Stone, who is playing in her sixth U.S. Women’s Amateur, on what is different about this week. “Just really believing in myself, because I feel like I've had kind of a hard time believing in myself and thinking that I can do it.
”Facing Stone on Sunday will be Megan Schofill, 22, of Monticello, Fla., currently No. 21 in WAGR. Schofill, also playing in her sixth Women’s Amateur, never trailed in her semifinal match against University of Michigan fifth-year senior Hailey Borja, 21, of Lake Forest, Calif.
Like Stone, Schofill got out to a quick 1-up lead after Borja lost a ball on her approach into the first hole.
She would extend the lead to two after a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 third hole. But Borja wouldn’t go down without a fight, winning holes 4 and 6 to tie the match.
“Just really thankful for the golf I played so far, and regardless of the outcome tomorrow, it's been a great week,” said a tearful and emotional Schofill. “I feel like there are no words that can describe it.
Every girl in this field, obviously this was their goal. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to go out there and try and play my best tomorrow, but regardless of the outcome, I think it's still a great week.”
After exchanging a pair of hole-winning birdies (Schofill on 7, Borja on 13), the match would fall in Schofill’s favor for good on the par-5 14th hole, when the Auburn University graduate student channeled her inner war eagle and knocked in a 15-foot eagle putt to take the lead, this time, never relinquishing it.
“That was actually on the caddie, that one,” said Schofill on the club selection on the 14th hole. “I wanted to hit 3-hybrid, and he was like, I think it's a 4 all day. Luckily I hit a high cut into the right-to-left wind, and it came in nice and soft.
I felt like that kind of switched the match. I hit three great shots there and was able to keep the momentum going into 15 and 16.”For Stone and Schofill, Sunday’s pairing will be a comfortable one. The two have been close friends since first meeting in 8th grade.
“Obviously, we both want to beat each other, but she's a great person on and off the golf course,” said Schofill. “I think regardless of the outcome we'll both be happy for one another.”
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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