U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
French Sisters Oust Record-Setting Medalists in Round of 32 April 29, 2019 | Jacksonville, Fla. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

2018 semifinalists Megan Furtney (left) and Erica Shepherd only needed 12 holes on Monday to reach the Round of 16. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

5th U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball | #USWFourBall
Timuquana Country Club, Jacksonville, Fla.
Round of 32, Match Play | Par 72, 6,300 yards
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What Happened

Sisters Whitney and Avery French, the No. 32 seeds in the match-play bracket, defeated record-setting top seeds Faith Choi and Aneka Seumanutafa, 3 and 2, on Monday in the Round of 32 of the 5th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Championship at Timuquana Country Club.

It marks the second straight year that the No. 1 seeds were defeated in the opening round.

Seumanutafa, 18, a freshman at Ohio State University from Emmittsburg, Md., and Choi, 16, of Frederick, Md., had shot a record 12-under-par 60 in Saturday’s opening stroke-play round, breaking the record by four strokes. They followed up with a 2-under 70 to set the 36-hole qualifying record by two strokes. But they lost four of the first seven holes to Whitney, 28, of Monarch Beach, Calif., and Avery, 24, of Laguna Niguel, Calif.

“Golf is very different every day,” said Seumanutafa. “Even though we made 12 birdies on the first day, two birdies the next day, it was very different conditions weather-wise, the greens. Golf is an unpredictable game.”

The French sisters had competed in the previous two U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Balls and reached match play both times. However, Monday’s win was their first in the Round of 32.

“We knew going in these girls are good players,” said Whitney, who played college golf at Oregon State. “We knew that we just had to stay consistent – if they were going to beat us, we had to make sure we at least parred. Avery was putting lights out. It was fun to watch her.”

Lauren Gomez (left) and Olivia Yun knocked out No. 3 seeds Kelsey Chugg and Julia Potter-Bobb, 2 and 1, on Monday. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

“If one made a mistake, the other would make par or birdie,” said Seumanutafa. “They weren’t making too many mistakes out there.”

No. 2 seeds Sadie Englemann, of Austin, Texas, and Rachel Heck of Memphis, Tenn., eliminated 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief, of Ashburn, Va., and Katie Miller, of Jeannette, Pa., 4 and 3.

“We were 1 down before we won [Nos.] 7 and 8,” said Englemann, 16, who will attend Stanford with Heck, 17, starting in 2020. “We knew they were really good players, but when we got to 1 up, it was a confidence booster, because you know it takes two holes to get back down. We both felt really good going to the back nine.”

Englemann and Heck won Nos. 12-14 to seal the verdict.

No. 3 seeds Julia Potter-Bobb and Kelsey Chugg, both U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champions, lost to Lauren Gomez and Olivia Yun, 2 and 1. Gomez, of San Diego, Calif., birdied the final hole of stroke play on Sunday to qualify the side for match play, and she and Yun, of Carlsbad, Calif., won Nos. 5-7 to take a lead they would not relinquish.

Defending champions Katrina Prendergast and Ellen Secor, the No. 11 seeds, also advanced with a 3-and-2 win over Maria Alejandra Ferrer Alvarez and her sister, Maria Paula, of Mexico.

What's Next

Two more match-play rounds are scheduled for Tuesday, with the semifinals and 18-hole championship match scheduled for Wednesday.

Notable

  • The Ferrer Alvarez sisters qualified for the championship in February in Mexico City. Maria Paula, 17, and Maria Alejandra, 15, were one of two sides to advance out of that qualifier, the first for this championship in Mexico City. Another U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball qualifier will be held in Mexico City in October for the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Quail Creek Country Club, in Naples, Fla.

  • The championship’s youngest competitor, Avery Zweig, 12, of McKinney, Texas, advanced with partner Cory Lopez of Mexico, as they edged the championship’s lone mother-daughter side, Kay and Abbey Daniel, 1 up. Lopez, 17, of Monterrey, is the reigning Mexican Women’s Amateur champion, having edged University of Arkansas All-American Maria Fassi for the title in January. Lopez is a member of Mexico’s national team who competed in the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship in Ireland last summer.

  • Shannon Johnson, the 2018 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, and partner Megan Buck lost to Isabella Rawl and Karlee Vardas in 22 holes, the longest match in U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball history. Rawl and Vardas, both of Lexington, S.C., forced extra holes with a birdie on No. 18 and won with a birdie on the par-5 fourth hole. There have been three previous matches that went 21 holes.

  • Ten players from Florida made the match-play bracket, followed by nine from California. The next-most was five from Tennessee, with four advancing to the Round of 16. Three players from Mexico led the international contingent.

Quotable

“It was a bit nerve-wracking, but it was fun. We didn’t want to go to school tomorrow.” – Isabella Rawl, of Lexington, S.C., who won a 22-hole match with partner Karlee Vardas.

“I think the first two days we struggled with the starting holes, 1 through 3, and today we really took advantage of those and just played steady golf. And when I started playing bad, Megan had my back.” – Erica Shepherd, 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, on Monday’s 7-and-6 victory with partner Megan Furtney.

“I actually missed prom, my boyfriend’s birthday, and the state high school championships, so I had to scramble a lot.” – Sophia Burnett, of Bluffton, S.C., on getting into the field last Thursday as an alternate with partner Isabella Van Der Biest. They won, 3 and 2, on Monday.

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.

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