U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Past Champ Gillman, Local Favorite Moore Share First-Round Lead
August 7, 2017 | Chula Vista, Calif.
By Vanessa Zink, USGA
Kristen Gillman, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, and Haley Moore, one of six San Diego County players in the field, each shot 5-under-par 67 Monday to share a one-stroke lead after the first round of stroke play in the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the par-72, 6,423-yard San Diego Country Club.
A rising sophomore at the University of Alabama, Gillman’s first round included three birdies on her first nine holes. Her card was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole, with her only bogey on the par-4 ninth, her final hole.
“I was trying to be aggressive, so I hit a good drive, and then I had 205 in,” said Gillman, 19, of Austin, Texas, in describing her eagle, one of three total by players in the first round. “Then I hit that to about 15 feet right of the flag and then made that putt.”
Gillman, who won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur in a come-from-behind 2-up victory over Brooke Henderson at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y., doesn’t feel any increased pressure from seeing her picture on signage around the course.
“It makes me excited and proud seeing my picture,” said Gillman of her larger-than-life presence on 12-foot signs around the course. “It brings back good memories, so I like seeing it.”
Moore, an 18-year-old rising junior at the University of Arizona from Escondido, Calif., carded eight birdies – the most of the day – to three bogeys.
“I'm pretty thrilled,” said Moore, who graduated high school a semester early to play for the Wildcats in the spring of 2016, where she finished as the individual runner-up in the NCAA Championship. “I started off pretty steady, a couple birdies coming in, and after the front nine I was 3 under. I played pretty steady after a couple bogeys out there, but it happens, so feel good with how I played today.”
Crediting strong iron play as a key to her success, Moore is not the only high-level amateur player in her family. Her brother, Tyler, qualified to play in the 117th U.S. Amateur Championship, which will be played approximately 145 miles north at The Riviera Country Club and Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles County next week.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur consists of 36 holes of stroke play, with the low 64 players advancing to match play, which begins Wednesday. The championship, scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
If not for a lipped-out par putt on the 18th hole, Bailey Tardy, a rising junior at the University of Georgia who will celebrate her 21st birthday Tuesday, would have joined Gillman and Moore atop the leader board.
“You always want to come out here and play two good rounds to get into match play, and I think I put myself in a pretty good position for that,” said Tardy, of Peachtree Corners, Ga., who strung together a birdie-eagle-birdie stretch on holes 13-15. “I think I still need to play pretty well tomorrow to make the cut, but I think I'm in the position I would like to be in.”
Shannon Aubert, who had the lowest score of the afternoon groups, made six birdies to three bogeys, including five birdies on the outward nine, for a first-round 69.
“I was just trying to stay steady because it's a really tough course,” said Aubert, a 21-year-old from France who is heading into her senior year at Stanford University. “You can get a lot of bogeys really quickly, so it's just about staying steady and sticking to the game plan.”
Similar to Moore’s first-round strategy, Aubert got aggressive with her approach shots, landing most within 10 feet of the hole.
“I was just hitting it close and making them, so it was fun,” said Aubert, who is joined at 3 under by Krystal Quihuis, 21, of Tucson, Ariz. “I'm really happy about today. If before I played someone told me you're going to shoot 3 under, of course I'd take it any day. It's a little disappointing after being 5 under after eight holes to not stay at that, but like I said, at the beginning of the day if I would have found out I'd shoot 3 under, I'd be stoked about it.”
Meghan Stasi, a four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, and Lauren Greenlief, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion – two of the four mid-amateur players in the field – each shot 2-over 74, positioning themselves to be in the top 64 before Tuesday’s cut.
“I obviously want to play well,” said Stasi, who at 39 is the oldest player in the field and making her 12th U.S. Women’s Amateur appearance. “I know the scores are going to be low out there. The course is right in front of you. The greens are its defense, so you've got to make some birdies. I know there was a lot of low scores in the morning, so like I said, I would have liked to have had a few more, a little lower, but just try to play good golf like I do everywhere I go.”
Erica Shepherd, 16, of Greenwood, Ind. – who won the U.S. Girls’ Junior two weeks ago – carded one birdie and one bogey to finish at even-par 72. Verbally committed to attend Duke University in 2019, she is playing in her second U.S. Women’s Amateur and attempting to make her first cut in the championship.
Virginia Elena Carta, the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up, struggled en route to a 4-over 76, and 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Hannah O’Sullivan posted an 83.
Defending champion Eun Jeong Seong is not in the field after competing in last week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship with an exemption she earned by virtue of her 2016 victory. The U.S. Women’s Amateur champion traditionally receives an exemption into four major professional championships – the U.S. Women’s Open, the Women’s British Open, the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship.
The match-play rounds of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship will be broadcast on FS1 (Fox Sports 1). Coverage will be from 3-6 p.m. PDT Wednesday through Friday, from 4-7 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday. Exclusive bonus coverage will be streamed live on usga.org on Thursday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Sunday from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Vanessa Zink is a manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.