Near Hole-Out At Third Extra Hole Sends Idaho Resident Into Round Of 16 July 21, 2010 By David Shefter, USGA

Cali Hipp of Caldwell, Idaho needed 21 holes to vanquish 12-year-old Megan Khang in Thursday's second round at the 2010 U.S. Girls' Junior. (John Mummert/USGA)

Village of Pinehurst, N.C. – It figures that it took a miracle by Cali Hipp to register her second-round victory Thursday at the 2010 U.S. Girls’ Junior.

Seventeen years ago, doctors thought Hipp might die from too much muconic acid in her lungs. She spent her first nine days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as Barbara and Bruce Hipp nervously hoped for a change in the prognosis for their daughter.

It was a miracle, said Hipp.

Fortunately, the condition went away and Hipp is a quite healthy 17-year-old girl who has reached the final 16 at The Country Club of North Carolina.

But it wasn’t easy.

Hipp, who owned a 4-up lead with six to play, needed 21 holes and a near hole-in-one to finally vanquish 12-year-old dynamo Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass.

Having already played the 123-yard, par-3 third hole once in the match, Hipp knew she had to take less club. Her 8-iron approach the first time went 25 feet beyond the flagstick, but she managed to hole the birdie putt for what was then a 2-up lead.

On her second go-round, Hipp perfectly struck her 9-iron tee shot and watch the ball spin back and nearly go in. Khang conceded the birdie, then nearly converted her 12-footer to extend the match.

She’d been dropping those putts all day, said Hipp, who witnessed Khang’s 35-footer for birdie that forced extra holes. You know, I was ready to go to the next hole. I wouldn’t be surprised if she made it.

It was a really good match. She came back and played really well, and I think she’ll have a really great career.

As for Hipp, her golf swing isn’t the only thing that is well balanced.

Consider that she has been president of her class the past two years and this year she will serve as the student body vice president at Middleton High School in Caldwell, Idaho.

We organize all the dances and assemblies at school, said Hipp. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun. It’s worth it. I like being involved at school.

She also excels in the classroom. In three years of high school, Hipp has achieved straight-As. Well, she received one B from advanced English her freshman year.

I’m OK with that, she said with a smile.

Needless to say, golf is not Hipp’s No. 1 priority, even if she is headed to the University of Oregon in the fall of 2011 on an athletic scholarship.

The golf season in Idaho is quite short, so Hipp puts the clubs away when the weather turns foul. She used to be an accomplished ski racer, but now just enjoys recreational skiing. That’s my chill time, said Hipp.

 She also goes bird hunting with her dad. They used to hunt pheasant. Now they shoot quail.

She’s an accomplished shooter, said Bruce Hipp, who, with his wife, is a commodities trader.

She’s not bad with a golf club in her hands, either.

Five years ago, she began to get competitive with golf, and in 2008 at the age of 15, she became the youngest winner of the Idaho Women’s State Amateur.

But she’s eyeing an even bigger prize this week at CCNC. Competing in just her second USGA event, Hipp finds herself in the round of 16.

I know everyone back home is cheering for me, she said.

Hoping that a miracle turns into a national championship.

David Shefter is a USGA communications staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments atdshefter@usga.org.