U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Five Storylines for Round 2 of Stroke Play
August 8, 2017 | Chula Vista, Calif.
By David Shefter, USGA
The second round of every USGA amateur championship has an aura of excitement and accompanying anxiety. Which players will qualify for match play? Who will be the medalist or medalists? Where will the cutline fall? Will there be a playoff for the last match-play spots? Who is extending hotel reservations and who is scrambling for a flight home?
One thing is for sure: a lot of players in the 117th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at San Diego Country Club will be hovering around the main scoreboard at dusk, or checking their phones, tablets or laptops for online scoring. Everything will be sorted out on Tuesday. Here are five storylines going into the second and final round of stroke play:
Birthday Girl: Bailey Tardy has played in prior U.S. Women’s Amateurs that have fallen during her birthday. But turning 21 is one of those milestone events, and the Peachtree Corners, Ga., resident and rising University of Georgia junior plans to celebrate the anniversary at some point. A 4-under 68 on Monday was an early gift.
The ideal present would be to hoist the Robert Cox Trophy on Sunday afternoon.
That would be reason for a champagne celebration. After all, she will be of age.
Tale of Two Champs: One U.S. Women’s Amateur champion left the premises quite happy, another not so much on Monday. Kristen Gillman (2014), of Austin, Texas, and Hannah O’Sullivan (2015), of Chandler, Ariz., couldn’t have had more diverse rounds on Monday.
Gillman, a rising sophomore at the University of Alabama, opened with a 5-under 67, while O’Sullivan, an incoming freshman at Duke University, struggled to an 11-over 83.
O’Sullivan, who has slipped to No. 14 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ after hovering in the top three for much of the last two years, uncharacteristically had more double bogeys (three) than birdies (two). She did not defend last year because the Women’s Amateur was scheduled the week after the Ricoh Women’s British Open. O’Sullivan now likely will need a round in the low 60s to qualify for match play.
Meanwhile, Gillman had a bogey-free round going until the ninth hole – her last of the day – and settled for a share of the first-round lead with Haley Moore.
“It means so much to be playing in a Women's Am because it has the best competition, and I feel like it's the biggest amateur tournament,” said Gillman. “I enjoy it every single year.”
Cut Watch: An elementary formula often used at USGA championships to prognosticate the cut for match play is to take the number of where the 64th scorer sits after Round 1, double it and add one stroke. Using that equation, the projected cut would be 7-over 151. Now this is only a scientific guess. Plenty of factors can come into play such as wind and pressure. Players who are hovering near that line often start grinding harder, and thus the excitement builds.
Notables who might be sweating it out on Tuesday include last year’s runner-up Virginia Elena Carta, of Italy. The rising Duke University junior carded a 4-over 76 in Round 1. Jennifer Kupcho, No. 4 in the WAGR and coming off an impressive win two weeks ago in the Canadian Women’s Amateur, fired a 3-over 75.
Mika Liu, a member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team, shot 78, while 2016 British Ladies Open Amateur champion Julia Engstrom, of Sweden and ranked No. 11 in the WAGR, posted an 82. Both will have work to do on Tuesday to make it into the draw.
Tough Finish: No matter what hole the competitors start on – the par-4 first or par-4 10th – the finish has proved to be more than challenging. Holes 9 and 18 were the two most difficult in Round 1 on Monday. Eighteen, which rewards a long and accurate tee shot, was the hardest, averaging 4.442, while No. 9 averaged 4.401.
“They're both really challenging,” said Gillman. “They're really demanding on the tee shots and the second shots, so they're both tough finishing holes.”
Weather Paradise: On his daily report, Ben Woods, the USGA’s on-site meteorologist, tries to come up with a different way to forecast the weather.
Perfect. Idyllic. Beautiful. Gorgeous. “Mahvelous.”
All of these adjectives describe the tremendous conditions for the competitors. Each day, the morning marine layer burns off, bathing the William Watson layout with golden sunshine and comfortable breezes. Temperatures have hovered in the mid- to upper-70s, a far cry from what some of the golfers saw two weeks ago at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, where temperatures early in the week reached into the 90s, and the humidity made it that much more stifling.
As many have said this week: “This is paradise.”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.