U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Preview of Quarterfinal Matches
August 13, 2015 | Portland, Ore.
By David Shefter, USGA
Only eight golfers remain in the 115th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Portland Golf Club. Bronte Law and Lindsey McCurdy, both 20, will be looking to end a seven-year streak of teens hoisting the Robert Cox Trophy. The last player in her 20s to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur was Amanda Blumenherst in 2008, who claimed the title two hours south of Portland G.C. at Eugene Country Club.
Here is a look at Friday’s four quarterfinal matches, with the player’s seeding in parentheses.
Hannah O’Sullivan, Chandler, Ariz. (32) vs. Lindsey McCurdy, Liberty Hill, Texas (41)
Nobody has played fewer holes in match play than the 17-year-old O’Sullivan. The 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinalist has only needed 39 holes to win her three matches, including a pair of 7-and-6 decisions over Haley Mills and Justine Dreher in the Round of 64 and Round of 32, respectively. She was pressed to the 15th hole in a 4-and-3 win over Jennifer Kupcho in the Round of 16. O’Sullivan has had quite a year, winning a Symetra Tour event in Arizona before claiming both the Rolex Girls Championship and Rolex Tournament of Champions, two American Junior Golf Association invitationals.
“I'm feeling really good about my game,” said O’Sullivan. “I'm just trying to be as confident as possible and taking it one shot at a time. It's been working out pretty well.”
McCurdy has made a strong statement this week, punctuated by her 4-and-3 victory over defending champion Kristen Gillman in the Round of 32. She followed with a 1-up win in the Round of 16 to local favorite Caroline Inglis, of Eugene, Ore., when Inglis failed to convert a short par putt on the 18th green. McCurdy will be a junior at Southern Methodist University, a school that has produced several male USGA champions. Payne Stewart won two U.S. Opens (1991 and 1999) and Hank Kuehne (1998), Colt Knost (2007) and Kelly Kraft (2011) all won the U.S. Amateur, with Knost also capturing the 2007 U.S. Amateur Public Links.
“It's been awesome,” said McCurdy of her first U.S. Women’s Amateur experience. “Getting out here and playing match play and obviously doing well is the goal. I love match play. It's been a completely different game since the first two days, so it's been fun.”
Anna Newell, Tampa, Fla. (52) vs. Mathilda Cappeliez, France (28)
Newell, 19, barely squeezed into the match-play draw after posting 3-over 147 in stroke play, but has excelled in match play, albeit with some drama. She had little trouble defeating Cathleen Santoso, of Australia and the University of Oregon, in the Round of 64 (5 and 4), but needed 25 holes to oust Lucia Gutierrez Ballon, of Peru, in the Round of 32, the longest match of the championship, and the longest since Annie Park defeated Calle Nielson in 24 holes four years ago in the Round of 64 at Rhode Island Country Club. It was two holes shy of the longest 18-hole match shared by four players and last done in 2007 when Andrea Messer beat Lauren Hunt at Crooked Stick. Newell, who has older sister and former University of Tennessee standout A.J. on her bag, only needed 17 holes to defeat 2015 North & South Women’s Amateur champion Bailey Tardy in the Round of 16, 2 and 1.
“My legs are about to fall off for sure,” said Newell, who helped Tennessee qualify for match play at the 2015 NCAA Women’s Championship in May. “My hips hurt a lot, so I'm ready to sit down. I'm good until tomorrow at 11:55, so yeah, it's been a long day, but it was a fun day. I really enjoyed it.”
Cappeliez, 17, brought a wealth of international experience into this week’s championship. A member of the French National Team, she helped her country win the 2015 European Team Championship. She also made the cut in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2. She is one of two international players remaining, joining England’s Bronte Law.
Sierra Brooks, Sorrento, Fla. (18) vs. Bronte Law, England (39)
This will be a matchup of two players in the top five of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WAGR): Law is No. 2 and Brooks is No. 5. While Brooks has never advanced this far in a USGA championship, she did win the 2015 Women’s Southern Amateur and 2014 South-Atlantic Amateur. She was named USA Today’s golfer of the year and won the 2014 Florida State 1A high school title. Brooks also is headed to China later this month as part of a USGA contingent to take part in the Trans-Pacific Junior Golf Match, along with fellow quarterfinalists Hannah O’Sullivan and Mika Liu.
Brooks has survived three tight matches leading into the quarters, including a 20-hole victory in the Round of 16 over Maddie McCrary where she birdied No. 18 to force extra holes. She also edged past Hailee Cooper, 1 up, in the Round of 32, and defeated Ana Paula Valdes, of Mexico, in the Round of 64, 2 and 1.
Robin Burke, the 2016 USA Curtis Cup captain, was following Brooks’ Round-of-16 match and making next year’s team is a goal, especially after playing in the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup in Scotland and on next month’s USA Junior Solheim Cup Team.
“Oh, yes, that is No. 1 on my radar right now,” said Brooks. “That's the biggest goal that I have set. I'd be so honored to be a part of that team. I know there are so many amazing players, but it's definitely a goal of mine to be on that team.”
She can gain some insight from Law, a two-time Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup competitor, who helped the side end a seven-Match drought in 2012. She also played in last year’s Match at St. Louis Country Club. More recently, the UCLA junior defended her English Women’s Amateur title by 16 strokes. On Thursday, Law knocked off two heralded players in reigning U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Eun Jeong Seong (4 and 2) and 2015 NCAA individual runner-up and 2015 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier Gaby Lopez (2 and 1). Brooks, however, will be her first American opponent, as Law opened match play with a 3-and-2 win over Maddie Szeryk, of Canada. She also is one of two UCLA golfers in the quarterfinals, joining incoming freshman Bethany Wu.
“I think it’s a very exciting time to be a Bruin,” said Law, bidding to become the first English-born U.S. Women’s Amateur champion in 79 years.
Bethany Wu, Diamond Bar, Calif. (14) vs. Mika Liu, Beverly Hills, Calif. (27)
Wu, who dropped from 2 to 9 in the WAGR this week, is the highest remaining seeded player after posting 2-under 142 in stroke play. Last year’s Women’s Amateur stroke-play medalist has performed much better than a year ago when she fell in the Round of 64. Wu dispatched Emilie Alonso, of France, 2 and 1, in the Round of 64 and defeated Laura Restrepo and Lydia Choi on Thursday, the latter her future UCLA teammate. It’s the culmination of a strong summer for Wu, who was the runner-up in both the North & South Women’s Amateur (lost to Bailey Tardy in final) at Pinehurst No. 2 and Canadian Women’s Amateur. The three-time American Junior Golf Association All-American previously was a semifinalist in the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior and quarterfinalist in the 2014 Girls’ Junior.
“I recently switched coaches [Bryan Lebedevitch] after the ANA [Inspiration], so I think we're on the right path,” said Wu. “My game is … at its peak, so I think overall, win or lose this week, I'm going to have a good summer.”
Liu already owns one USGA championship, having claimed the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in May at Bandon Dunes, a five-hour drive from Portland Golf Club on the Oregon coast. The 16-year-old, who plans to attend Stanford University in 2017, is looking to become the third female to win multiple USGA championships in the same year, joining Pearl Sinn (1988 Women’s Amateur Public Links and Women’s Amateur) and Jennifer Song (2009 WAPL and Women’s Amateur).
On Thursday, Liu, the 2014 Women’s Western champion, outlasted two strong opponents: 2015 Canadian Women’s Amateur champion Mariel Galdiano (1 up) and 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and U.S. Girls’ Junior semifinalist Cindy Ha (4 and 3). Liu needed 19 holes in her Round-of-64 match to oust current Stanford University standout Lauren Kim.
Liu isn’t just interested in golf, either. She’s an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal.
“I feel good to be knowledgeable,” said Liu, whose older sister, Marika, attended Yale, and also has two brothers who played golf at Harvard. “The only day I don't read it is when I'm playing like 36 and I go home and I immediately go to sleep because I like to sleep 12 hours a day.”
Liu should be well rested for the quarterfinals on what shapes up to be an intriguing day of golf.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.