A Formidable Four-Ball Partnership May 9, 2015 | BANDON, ORE. By TOM MACKIN

Thuhashini Selvaratnam and partner Mari Miezwa have seen a lot of success as a Four-Ball side, winning their state title together three times. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Thuhashini “Tui” Selvaratnam and Mari Miezwa came to the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort with a fair bit of confidence, thanks to a recent win.

The pair captured the 2015 Arizona Women’s Golf Association’s Four-Ball Championship on April 15. It was their third victory together in that 36-hole, stroke-play event, adding to wins in 2010 and 2013 (Selvaratnam also won the event with Lynn Simmons in 2006, 2007 and 2008).

But this year’s title did not come easily.

Miezwa, of Chandler, Ariz., had just returned from attending the Masters in Augusta, Ga., and Selvaratnam was exhausted after returning from a two-week trip to her native Sri Lanka.

“I was totally jet-lagged,” said Selvaratnam, of Cave Creek, Ariz. “We didn’t have time for a practice round. We just drove in an hour before our tee time. On my own ball I shot 73 and we shot 69 for the day.”

After a full night’s sleep, Selvaratnam and Miezwa improved to a 68 in the wind, although Selvaratnam was quick to note that the breezes did not compare to the blustery conditions she has found at Pacific Dunes.

The two first met a decade ago, connecting through mutual friends. They were roommates briefly in Phoenix after Miezwa moved to the city from Minnesota. These days, Selvaratnam, 38, is the varsity golf coach at Xavier College Preparatory, an all-girls private high school in Phoenix, while Miezwa, 35, works for Little Gym, a learning and physical development center for children. The chance to play in the first-ever U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball was an ideal motivator.

“My goal was just to get here,” said Selvaratnam, the mother of a 17-month-old. “A few days before the entries closed last August, I asked Mari if she wanted to play. I told her the qualifier was not until December so we would have time to practice. So that’s what we did.”

The qualifier was held on a rare rainy day at Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson. “I said this is going to be just like Oregon, so we got into our rain gear and played,” said Selvaratnam. The pair shot 72 and were one of four teams to qualify from that site.

Their individual strengths – playing conservatively for Selvaratnam and more risk-taking for the longer-hitting Miezwa – create a formidable partnership.

Selvaratnam’s playing record includes being named the Arizona Women’s Golf Association Player of the Year from 2001-2010. She was a semifinalist in the 2004 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and two years later lost in the final to four-time champion Meghan Stasi. 

Selvaratnam acknowledges that Pacific Dunes presents a tough challenge for those more accustomed to desert golf. “I think with the wind and this being links golf, it will be very different,” she said. “Here it’s bump-and-run shots, and then the ball runs forever. You just have to keep it together. I think par will be a pretty good score.”

The pair has a simple goal: advance to the match-play rounds on Monday. It’s a format they have never played in as a team, having won all of their Arizona titles at 36 holes of stroke play.

“We’re just going to play our game. It’s going to be fun,” said Selvaratnam.

Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based golf writer and a frequent contributor to USGA websites. Email him at temackinjr@gmail.com.

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