The 2nd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship – along with the concurrent U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship – officially kicks off the USGA championship season on Saturday at Streamsong Blue with 64 sides hoping to hoist the silver trophy. The unique Tom Doak design should provide a plethora of challenges for the competitors who hope to add their names in USGA championship history lore.
As in any championship, storylines abound. Here are five interesting items to watch on the first day of stroke play.
Flying Solo: Nothing in the USGA Rules states that a side cannot consist of one player. Kim Kaul, 57, and Nora Lucas, 25, are competing as singles this weekend. Kaul’s partner, Victoria Parker, 18, injured her back last week and notified Kaul on Monday that she would not be able to compete. Allison Pettit, 31, told Lucas last month she was not going to compete because of her pregnancy. The Chicago, Ill., residents qualified last fall before Pettit became pregnant in December.
Kaul, who was granted the use of a cart by the USGA under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), decided to make the trip to Florida knowing the odds were long just to make the cut.
“I’m disappointed she is not here,” said Kaul, who met Parker through the Buffalo (N.Y.) District Golf Association. “I love playing with her. She has a [golf] scholarship to Coastal Carolina, so I want to let her heal. I applied to use a cart because I didn’t want to let her down.”
Kaul, who has competed in the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur and USGA Women’s State Team championships, tore her ACL in 1978 playing basketball for Canisius College and never had it repaired.
Kaul has altered her strategy.
“I have to make sure I don’t make any mistakes,” she said. “I can’t take a double bogey. I have to play conservatively and I’m not always a conservative player. It would be unbelievable if I could make match play.”
Lucas, a former University of Illinois golfer who is now a law student at Notre Dame, said she has not changed her mindset because Pettit isn’t here.
“You just have to play your game and do one shot at a time,” said Lucas. “We’ll just see how the days go.”
Lucas will have her fiancé, Jon Klein, on the bag. The two got engaged on Easter weekend.
In the Nick of Time: Alexandra Austin won’t have to play the first two stroke-play rounds as a single. Her partner, 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief, received a sponsor’s invitation into this week’s LPGA Tour event at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Va., but rounds of 82-75 left the former University of Virginia golfer outside the cutline. Greenlief was scheduled to catch a flight to Florida on Friday night and arrive at Streamsong in time for the side’s 1:24 p.m. EDT starting time.
Age Only a Number: When LeeAnn Fairlie and Carolyn Creekmore drove into the resort on Thursday, the attendant asked the two senior-age golfers if they were there to play Streamsong Red, the other course here. Creekmore, who turned 64 on Thursday, and Fairlie might have a combined age of 116, but they aren’t here for a couple of recreational rounds.
The two earned one of the six qualifying spots at Black Diamond Ranch in Lecanto, Fla., amid a plethora of young teams.
Two years ago, Creekmore, the 2004 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion and 2009 runner-up, thought her competitive career might be finished. She underwent rotator cuff surgery that kept her on the sidelines for a year.
“This is truly icing [on the cake],” said Creekmore.
Mid-Amateur Moment: Last year’s inaugural championship was dominated by teenagers. All four semifinal sides were under the age of 18, and only two of the eight quarterfinal sides were made up of mid-amateurs (25 and older). Compare that to the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship, where both finalists were mid-amateurs, with Nathan Smith and Todd White prevailing.
That begs the question: Can a mid-amateur side claim the Women’s Amateur Four-Ball title? Dawn Woodard and four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi believe it can be accomplished.
“In the next couple of days, we’ll see more of the teams,” said Woodard, 41, of Greer, S.C., after the first practice round on Thursday. “I didn’t recognize a lot of names. There are a lot of young teams out here.”
“And they’re good,” added Stasi.
Woodard and Stasi are certainly capable of going low. The duo carded a 64 to medal at their qualifier last August. 17. And they were quarterfinalists in 2015.
Wither the Weather: Given that the locale is Florida in the late spring, the chance for a shower or thunderstorm is a distinct possibility, especially as a cold front invades northern Florida on Saturday. Both practice rounds on Thursday and Friday were briefly suspended due to lightning. Joshua Nagelberg, the on-site meteorologist, is calling for a 20 percent chance of a morning shower/thunderstorm, increasing to 40 percent in the afternoon. Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 80s.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.