Watson Takes Lead At U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links June 27, 2011 By Christina Lance

Sally Watson watches her putt on the 18th hole during the second round of stroke play at the 2011 U.S. Women's Public Links. (Copyright USGA/John Mummert)
Bandon, Ore. – The similarities between Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and the iconic courses in Scotland are numerous. Perhaps it is fitting that the lone Scottish player in the 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links field is atop the leaderboard.

19-year-old Sally Watson, who lives only 12 miles from famed St. Andrews, has found herself right at home among the sand dunes and constant winds in southern Oregon. Watson carded a 2-over-par 73 to lead all scorers at 6-over-par 148 halfway through the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the 6,095-yard, par-71 Bandon Trails.

I said to my dad when I got here, ‘I can’t believe we just flew 25 hours and it looks like we could have driven five minutes,’ said Watson, who has represented her home country in the last two Curtis Cup Matches and the 2010 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship.

Watson opened slowly over the first three holes, including a double bogey after she sent a shot into the gorse that grows abundantly along Bandon Trails. However, she quickly turned her day around, holing her second shot from 115 yards for an eagle on the par-4 fourth hole.

With an ensuing birdie-2 at the fifth, Watson put herself firmly into medalist contention, despite struggling with her putting throughout the round, including a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole.

After those holes, I was really thinking about [medalist], said Watson. And like I said, I hit it great. I just didn’t putt well.

First-round leader Kelsey Vines, who admitted to getting the best of the weather on Monday, did not find Tuesday quite so simple. The 20-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, struggled through her round, making four bogeys and two double bogeys en route to a 7-over 78. However, her two-day total of 7-over-par 149, buoyed by her even-par 71 Monday, puts her only one stroke behind Watson.

Three players are one stroke behind Vines, including Joanne Lee, 22, of San Carlos, Calif. In a round that was characterized by high scores, Lee posted the lone even-par score of the morning.

Compared to yesterday, with the rain and pin placements, I thought today was a lot better, said Lee, a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, who is playing in her 15th USGA championship. There are more chances, definitely. I just played one shot at a time, which helped a lot more.

77 players have afternoon tee times. Following the completion of stroke play, the field will be cut to the low 64 scorers, who will advance to tomorrow’s first round of match play. The championship will be decided in a 36-hole final on Saturday.

Christina Lance is coordinator of championship communications for the USGA. Email questions or comments to clance@usga.org.