U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
No. 2 Seeds Englemann/Heck Roll into Semifinals at Timuquana April 30, 2019 | Jacksonville, Fla. By Ron Driscoll, USGA

Alexa Pano (right) and Amari Avery celebrate their quarterfinal victory on Tuesday afternoon at Timuquana C.C. (USGA/Steven Gibbons) 

5th U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball | #USWFourBall
Timuquana Country Club, Jacksonville, Fla.
Round of 16/Quarterfinals, Match Play | Par 72, 6,256 yards
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What Happened

No. 2-seeded Sadie Englemann, of Austin, Texas, and Rachel Heck, of Memphis, Tenn., earned two impressive match-play victories on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals of the 5th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Timuquana Country Club.

They will meet a tandem from the championship’s host state of Florida, No. 27-seeded Jillian Bourdage, of Tamarac, and Casey Weidenfeld, of Pembroke Pines, at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday. Bourdage and Weidenfeld ousted the defending champions, Katrina Prendergast and Ellen Secor, in 20 holes on Tuesday morning before holding off Thienna Huynh and Sara Im, 3 and 1, in the afternoon.

The four players will be familiar with each other, having played together in Saturday and Sunday stroke-play rounds. Englemann, 16, and Heck, 17, who will attend Stanford University starting in 2020, have not had to play past the 15th hole in their three match-play victories, earning a 4-and-3 win on Tuesday morning over Haylin Harris and Valery Plata, both of Michigan State, and a 6-and-5 afternoon win over No. 7 Isabella Rawl and Karlee Vardas.

“I think we played well when the other person was down,” said Englemann, who was co-medalist in the 2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior. “We never really played bad together, which was really important in both matches.”

Floridians Jillian Bourdage (left) and Casey Weidenfeld earned a spot in the semis with a 3-and-1 win on Tuesday afternoon. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

No. 5-seeded Megan Furtney, of South Elgin, Ill., and Erica Shepherd, of Greenwood, Ind., survived in 19 holes over Caroline Curtis and Ashley Gilliam on Tuesday afternoon to advance to their second consecutive semifinals, where they hope to improve upon their 2018 loss to Prendergast and Secor.

“We’re really good friends with Ashley and Caroline, and we actually never played such good friends in match play,” said Shepherd, 18, the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. “That was definitely an adjustment. We all started off kind of slow and then we got it going down the stretch and it got pretty intense.”

Curtis, of Richmond, Va., birdied No. 18 to force extra holes, but Shepherd responded with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first hole to earn the victory.

“I was expecting it,” said Furtney of Curtis’ birdie on No. 18. “I think in match play you have to expect your opponent to always play the best and make every putt they have.”

Furtney and Shepherd will take on No. 8 seeds Amari Avery and Alexa Pano, who prevailed in 21 holes in the morning over Cory Lopez and Avery Zweig, 12, the championship’s youngest competitor. Avery and Pano ousted Whitney and Avery French, 5 and 3, the oldest remaining side at 28 and 24, respectively, in the quarterfinals.

“They didn’t miss a shot, so it was tough,” said Whitney French, of Monarch Beach, Calif., who advanced past the Round of 32 with her sister for the first time in three tries. “Each round that we won was just the cherry on top.”

For Shepherd and Furtney, the memory of last year provides motivation.

“We’re definitely still upset about what happened last year,” said Shepherd. “I think we have a little… we’re seeking revenge this year.”

Notable

  • The sister duo of Whitney and Avery French are making up for lost time, having only started playing much golf together after Avery finished college two years ago. Whitney, 28, is five school years ahead of her sister, so they never competed on a team together, and both of them mostly played with their father, Alan, growing up. They competed in their third U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball this week and made their deepest run, which included a victory over the No. 1 seeds on Monday. “This is fun because it’s a family event for us,” said Avery, 24, who played at California-Irvine. “Our whole family gets to come out, watch us, be on the bag with us. We were just so excited to be here because it’s our vacation really. We have a different mindset now.” “We love USGA events,” said Whitney, who played at Oregon State. “They’re the nicest-run, they’re fun to play and you’re with great golfers, always on a great course. Everyone is rooting for you and it’s so amazing. We’re still leaving happy even though we lost.”

  • There have been four extra-hole matches this year, which equals the number from 2016 and 2018. This year’s championship also features the longest match in Women’s Amateur Four-Ball history, Monday’s 22-hole victory by Isabella Rawl and Karlee Vardas over 2018 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Shannon Johnson and Megan Buck.

  • The average age of the championship field at the start of the week was 20.3 years, the youngest in its five years. That average has dropped in ensuing rounds, to 18.1 for the Round of 32; to 16.8 for the Round of 16, and to 16.4 for the semifinal round.

Quotable

“Our personalities are really opposite. You’re more intense.” – Casey Weidenfeld, to partner Jillian Bourdage. “I’m more intense and she’s more cool cucumber, and we just clashed.” – Bourdage. “Once we figured out that, everything seemed to start rolling the right way.” – Weidenfeld

“We just played great as a team. Keep each other positive. One of us would get down, the other one would hit a good shot and tell the other to keep their head up.” – Rachel Heck, on winning two matches with partner Sadie Englemann.

“It’s a lot of golf if you think about making the finals. We just try to take it one shot at a time and always talk each other through things on the golf course, and that helps keep us present and in the moment.” – Erica Shepherd, on her strategy with partner Megan Furtney.

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

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