U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Maryland Teens’ Round of 60 Shatters Stroke-Play Mark April 27, 2019 | Jacksonville, Fla. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Aneka Seumanutafa (left) and Faith Choi were all smiles after shooting a championship-record 60 on Saturday. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

5th U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball | #USWFourBall
Timuquana Country Club, Jacksonville, Fla.
First Round, Stroke Play | Par 72, 6,238 yards
Hole Locations
Championship History | Media Center

What Happened

A pair of Maryland teenagers, Aneka Seumanutafa and Faith Choi, made U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball history on Saturday, blitzing Timuquana Country Club for a 12-under-par 60 in the first round of stroke play in the fifth edition of the championship.

The previous 18-hole stroke-play record was 64, which had been accomplished twice: by Brittany Fan and Esther Lee in Round 2 at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 2017, and by Yachun Chang and Lei Ye in Round 1 at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif., in 2018.

They did it despite Seumanutafa not having seen the course before she teed it up on Saturday morning. The 18-year-old from Emmitsburg, Md., led the way with 10 of the side’s 12 birdies on a bogey-free card over the 6,238-yard layout designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1923.

“I have experience at Pinehurst No. 2,” said Seumanutafa, who won the 2017 North & South Girls’ Junior title on that classic Ross design. On Saturday, the two-time Maryland women’s amateur champion reeled off birdies on holes 2, 3, 7, 8 and 10 through 15. None of the birdie putts the duo converted was longer than 10 feet, and Choi narrowly missed a birdie from 10 feet on the par-4 18th that would given them a round of 59. She contributed birdies on Nos. 1 and 6.

“Because I had a college final, I just flew in this morning and got my information from her,” said Seumanutafa, who was home-schooled and enrolled at Ohio State University in January. “I’m a long hitter, so I had a lot of wedges in.”

“To be honest, this is our first time playing four-ball,” said Choi, 16, of Frederick, Md., who is also home-schooled and has committed to Ohio State in 2020. She got in one practice round on Friday at Timuquana, and the two pointed to Choi’s consistency and Seumanutafa’s aggressive play as their trademarks. “We’ve practiced and played a lot of junior golf together as teammates, but not necessarily as partners.”

Seumanutafa has one more final exam next week in Columbus before she competes with her Buckeye teammates in the Washington Regional of the NCAA Championships. But first, she and Choi will try to ride the momentum of this glorious start all the way to the championship.

Julia Potter-Bobb and Kelsey Chugg, a pair of U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champions, had the second-best score of the day, a 7-under 65. Three sides finished at 6-under 66, including two from the host state of Florida: Jillian Bourdage and Casey Weidenfeld; and Madison Hewlett and Jacqueline Putrino.

What's Next

The field will be trimmed from 64 sides to 32 sides after Sunday’s second round of stroke play. The first of five rounds of match play will be contested on Monday.

Notable

  • Defending champions Katrina Prendergast and Ellen Secor, of Colorado State, rebounded from a 4-over 40 front nine to finish the day at even-par 72. The biggest boost was provided by Prendergast’s eagle on the par-4 17th, where the Sparks, Nev., resident holed out a 123-yard 9-iron. “I tried to take a three-quarter swing and I thinned it a little bit,” said Prendergast. “It pitched 6 feet short, took one hop and trickled in.” Said Secor, “I really wanted us to get back to even par, back to where we started. It was an awesome shot.” Prendergast and Secor are tied for 37th with six other sides after Round 1. Last year, they opened with bogeys on three of their first six holes in stroke play before rebounding to claim the No. 9 seed and capture the title.

  • Marissa Mar and Lila Thomas, former teammates at Stanford, returned to the championship for the first time since its 2015 inaugural, and opened with an even-par 72. Thomas now has a 9-month-old son, Cash, but she discovered that her son enjoys visiting the golf course. “I go out there as much as I can, at least every weekend,” said Thomas, 29. Added Mar, who reached the semifinals of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, “We’re weekend warriors now. But getting to the semifinals in 2017 was awesome, and it sparked my enthusiasm for golf again.”

  • Prendergast’s eagle was one of three on the day overall, and the lone one on No. 17. The par-72 course played to a 74.88 stroke average, with the par-4 10th playing as the toughest hole (4.31) and the par-5 fourth playing as the easiest (4.80). The field recorded 20 double bogeys and one triple bogey.

  • Of the 64 sides, 36 completed 18 holes at 1-under 71 or better.

Quotable

“We know how to keep each other loose, but we also know when the other one needs to focus, what to say and how to say it. You have to know someone really well to be able to do that.” – Marissa Mar, of San Francisco, Calif., who shot even-par 72 with partner Lila Thomas.

“It’s great to be able to represent Jacksonville here. A lot of the best players in the world are here and we get to play with them on our home turf.” – Celeste Valinho, of Jacksonville, on competing in her hometown.

“For the rest of the year you just feel like you’re out there on the course on your own fighting against everything. It makes a big difference when you have backup. More than anything it’s a nice change of pace.” – Dawn Woodard, who has partnered with Meghan Stasi in all five U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Balls.

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

The Social Scene

More From the 5th U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball