Craig, Lehigh sisters advance after lengthy weather delay at U.S. Women's Four-Ball
Catie and Caroline Craig (USGA Photo)
Catie and Caroline Craig (USGA Photo)

Hearing the airhorn on the fifth green, especially with some nerves still fluttering in their stomachs, was not what record-setting co-medalists Lauren and Katelyn Lehigh wanted 73 minutes into their Round-of-32 match on Monday at Oak Hills Country Club.

The ensuing four-hour, 1-minute weather suspension didn’t make things easier on the Loveland, Colo., sisters who had earned the No. 1 seed for match play in the 9th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship with their 14-under-par 128 showing the previous two days.

To pass the time, they ate lunch, played some games, and did a lot of stretching. Even that didn’t completely settle them down. When play resumed, Katelyn was immediately baffled by a hard-breaking, 15-foot putt that never sniffed the hole. The duo even tied the par-4 seventh hole with bogeys.

Not until Lauren, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of New Mexico, drove the 260-yard, par-4 eighth green to set up a winning two-putt birdie, did the tension ease. Then little sister Katelyn, a 20-year-old rising sophomore at Fresno State, nonchalantly drained a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 ninth with Lauren’s tee shot sitting 2 feet from the hole.

Laughing and clearly relaxed as they strode to the 10th tee with a 3-up advantage, the Lehigh duo cruised to a 5-and-3 victory over North Carolina teenagers Emerson B. Dever and Grace Ridenour. They’ll now face 14-year-old Southern Californians Rina Kawasaki and Clairey Lin on Tuesday morning for a spot in the quarterfinals.

They are joined in the final 16 by co-medalists and No. 2-seeded Caroline and Catie Craig, who eliminated University of Delaware teammates Christina Carroll and Marissa Malosh, 2 and 1.

Despite the lengthy suspension, all 16 matches were completed by 8:35 p.m. CDT, just as darkness enveloped the property. Asterisk Talley, 15, of Cowchilla, Calif., a member of the inaugural U.S. National Junior Team who has qualified for the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open Presented by Ally, and 17-year-old partner Sarah Lim, of Saratoga, Calif., finished off the marathon day by defeating incoming Gonzaga University freshmen Audrey Park and Jasmine Wong, 2 and 1

Coming off such an extraordinary performance in stroke play, the Lehigh duo naturally felt a bit anxious to have the number 1 next to their name on the draw. They only hoped to keep the momentum going as the format switched to match play, one they rarely play in college.

Lauren, who established a single-season school mark with a 71.67 stroke average, relied on her past two U.S. Women’s Amateur experiences when she reached the quarterfinals at Chambers Bay in 2022 and the Round of 16 last year at Bel-Air Country Club.

“I know last night, it was like, ‘Oh my god, this is crazy, I can’t believe we just did that,’” said Lauren. “The first-tee nerves were a little bit more prominent than the last couple of days. Once we got out there, we were back in the groove and playing the game we both love.”

The Craig sisters also relaxed during the suspension, playing cards with friends, and doing some light stretching to stay limber. Their match, however, was tight until the 12th hole when Catie, a 20-year-old rising senior at Western Kentucky where she won the 2023 Conference USA title, drained a 4-foot birdie after her opponents missed from 6 feet. That put the side 2 up, with six to play.

Catie also birdied Nos. 15 and 16 to seal a spot in the final 16. Caroline Craig is ranked No. 229, and Catie Craig is ranked No. 214 in the Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Women's Rankings. 

“It was a really good match,” said Caroline, who was the 2024 co-Big 10 Conference individual champion in her graduate season at Indiana after transferring from the University of Georgia. “We had to win on birdies and good shots. They were great competitors, so it was fun.”

No. 3 seeds Addie Baggarly, 24, of Clarksville, Tenn., and 25-year-old Kendall Griffin, a pair of college assistant coaches at Louisville and Indiana, respectively, posted a 3-and-2 victory over Southern Californians Andee Avery and Abra Richmond. They are also the oldest remaining side in the championship. Griffin, a former player at Louisiana State University and Louisville, is the lone mid-amateur left.

Griffin, a six-time U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball competitor, birdied the par-4 eighth hole to put the side 3 up. Six holes later, Baggarly, who played collegiately at Florida and Baylor, converted a 15-foot birdie to douse the comeback hopes of Richmond and Avery.

“I was lipping out putts all week,” said Baggarly, “so I looked at Kendall and said ‘I’m so ready to make one.’ I finally had one fall.”

No. 4 seeds and fellow Georgians Mary Miller, of Savannah, and Abby Newton, of Statesboro, enjoyed the most lopsided victory, making six birdies over 13 holes in eliminating sisters Angela and Gloria Nip, of Hong Kong, China, 6 and 5. They’ll next face incoming college freshmen Vanessa Borovilos (Texas A&M), of Canada, and Cara Heisterkamp (Indiana University), of New Albany, Ohio. They rallied with birdies on 16 and 17 to knock off 2022 semifinalists and Sam Houston State teammates Grace Jin and Amelia Guo, 1 up.

The 2021 champions and No. 7-seeded Alexa Saldana (University of Houston), of Mexico, and Savannah Barber (Oklahoma), of Fort Worth, Texas, birdied five of their first six holes en route to a 6-and-4 triumph over Olivia Chappell and Hyunchae Song.

Michigan 18-year-olds and 2024 Illinois State University signees Elise Ferrell, of Caledonia, and Jessica Jolley, of Rockford, registered the day’s biggest upset according to seeding, defeating 2022 semifinalists and rising college sophomores Kary Hollenbaugh (Ohio State) and Anna Ritter (Illinois), 4 and 3. Hollenbaugh and Ritter were seeded fifth following stroke play after producing one of four 9-under 62s in Sunday’s final round of stroke play.

What’s Next

Match play continues Tuesday with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals, beginning at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The quarterfinal matches are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. The semifinal matches and 18-hole championship match are scheduled for Wednesday. Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend.

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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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