U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Round of 32: Five Matches to Watch
August 12, 2015 | Portland, Ore.
By David Shefter, USGA
A field that began the week with 156 hopefuls is now down the last 32, following one round of match play on Wednesday. Thursday is the longest of the championship at Portland Golf Club, with the Round of 32 and Round of 16 matches scheduled.
Here’s a look at five intriguing Round-of-32 matchups:
Justine Dreher, France (64) vs. Hannah O’Sullivan, Chandler, Ariz. (32)
Folks at USC (the one in South Carolina and the one in California) might be interested in this match. Dreher, a 23-year-old 2015 University of South Carolina graduate who was the oldest to make match play, faces a 17-year-old who intends to attend the University of Southern California in 2016. Dreher needed to play three playoff holes – two on Wednesday morning – just to qualify for match play. She birdied the par-4 third hole to garner the No. 64 seed, then knocked out co-medalist Angel Yin in impressive fashion, 5 and 4. She didn’t arrive in Portland until Sunday night after competing in Stage I of LPGA Tour Qualifying School in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where she missed being inside the top 60 to advance to Stage II by one stroke. Dreher was an All-America selection for the Gamecocks in 2014-15, and was the Southeastern Conference’s Scholar Athlete of the Year. Additionally, she won the 2015 Annika Collegiate and helped France to the European Team Championship this summer.
O’Sullivan is one of the country’s best juniors and came into the Women’s Amateur No. 10 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WAGR). She was a semifinalist in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Nassau Country Club and made the 36-hole cut in last month’s U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club. O’Sullivan, who will represent the USA in next month’s Junior Solheim Cup in Germany, is coming off a disappointing performance in the U.S. Girls’ Junior two weeks ago when she fell in the Round of 64. She more than made up for that by eliminating Haley Mills, 7 and 6, in her Round-of-64 match at Portland Golf Club on Wednesday.
“I love this course,” said O’Sullivan. “Accuracy is very, very important here, so each time I play it, I think I'm getting more comfortable with the narrow fairways, and my scrambling is getting a lot better through each round.”
Kristen Gillman, Austin, Texas (9) vs. Lindsey McCurdy, Liberty Hill, Texas (41)
After knocking out one Lone Star State resident, McCurdy, 20, will look to defeat another while ending the repeat bid of the 17-year-old Gillman. Gillman is bidding to become the first to defend the U.S. Women’s Amateur title since current LPGA Tour player Danielle Kang won consecutive championships in 2010 and 2011. McCurdy posted a 2-and-1 victory in the Round of 64 over Binny Lee, of Frisco. Gillman edged Kelly Su, 15, of Scottsdale, Ariz., 2 up.
McCurdy will be a junior this fall at Southern Methodist University, an institution that has produced three U.S. Amateur champions (Hank Kuehne, Colt Knost and Kelly Kraft) in the past 17 years and two-time U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart. This is McCurdy’s third USGA championship and first U.S. Women’s Amateur. Gillman, meanwhile, has competed in three professional major championships in the last year, including the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open, where she missed the cut. Gillman also represented the USA in the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Japan, as well as the Junior Ryder Cup in Scotland last fall.
Mariel Galdiano, Pearl City, Hawaii (6) vs. Mika Liu, Beverly Hills, Calif. (27)
Galdiano, 17, came into the championship on a roll, having won the Canadian Women’s Amateur two weeks ago and finishing runner-up last week in the Junior PGA Championship. She also finished a stroke behind Megan Khang for low-amateur honors in last month’s U.S. Women’s Open. Galdiano had little trouble in her Round-of-64 match on Wednesday, defeating Kimberly Mitchell, 7 and 5.
“For the most part, I wouldn't say that I was playing phenomenally,” said Galdiano of her Round-of-64 victory. “It was just hard for her to get up and down in certain places.”
Liu, meanwhile, teamed with Rinko Mitsunaga to win the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in May at Bandon Dunes, a five-hour drive from Portland Golf Club. Liu, 16, needed 19 holes to defeat Stanford University senior Lauren Kim. Liu plans to attend Stanford in 2017. Liu advanced to the quarterfinals of last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior. This is her seventh appearance in a USGA championship and second U.S. Women’s Amateur. She lost in the Round of 64 last year to eventual runner-up Brooke Mackenzie Henderson.
Gaby Lopez, Mexico (148) vs. Bronte Law, England (39)
Two of college golf’s best will square off. Lopez, a senior at the University of Arkansas, was the runner-up in this year’s NCAA Women’s Championship and a 2015 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier, while Law, a UCLA junior and No. 2 in the latest WAGR, has competed for the last two Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup Teams. Both golfers competed for their respective countries in the Women’s World Amateur Team last fall, but they’ve never squared off in match play.
Lopez, 21, arrived Sunday night from Stage I of LPGA Tour Qualifying School, where she finished sixth. Lopez needed to survive a 16-for-10 playoff on Wednesday to qualify for match play before eliminating 2015 U.S. Open qualifier Samantha Wagner, of Orlando, Fla., 5 and 3. Lopez came up a stroke short of 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Emma Talley in the individual competition of the NCAA Championships in May at the Concession Club in Bradenton, Fla.
“It's a perfect day,” said Lopez after her Round-of-64 win. “I was just really, really happy with everything, and I just think that it's going to be a good week. It's my last U.S. [Women’s] Amateur. I'm prepared to face any shot, and I don't know, whatever is going to happen, I'll be happy with it.”
Law, 20, is coming off a 16-stroke victory in the English Ladies Amateur, a title she successfully defended. She also helped Great Britain & Ireland end a seven-Match losing streak to the USA in 2012 at Nairn Golf Club in Scotland. Law is hoping to make a third Curtis Cup appearance next June in Ireland. She also will be UCLA’s No. 1 golfer this season with the graduation of Erynne Lee and the early departure of Alison Lee, both 2014 USA Curtis Cup competitors.
Alice Jo, Clermont, Fla. (55) vs. Eun Jeong Seong, Republic of Korea (23)
A USGA championship rematch, these two teenagers last met a few hours north of Portland Golf Club in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship match at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., where Jo prevailed, 3 and 2, to become the first golfer from the People’s Republic of China to win a USGA championship. Seong, a quarterfinalist in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur, claimed a USGA title for herself two weeks ago at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, beating Angel Yin in the final at Tulsa (Okla.) Country Club.
Jo, 16, has since moved to Florida and attends a golf academy. She is coming off a missed cut in the U.S. Girls’ Junior, but apparently enjoys playing in the Pacific Northwest. She defeated another golfer with ties to China, Muni He, in the Round of 64, 2 and 1.
Seong, 15, is seeking to become the first player in USGA history to claim the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur in the same year. JoAnne Gunderson Carner (1956) and Nicole Perrot (2001) each won the Girls’ Junior and lost in the championship match of the Women’s Amateur a week later. Seong eliminated 2015 Ladies British Open Amateur champion Celine Boutier, of France, 1 up.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.