Stroke Play, Round 2: What to Watch For October 4, 2015 | Choudrant, La. By Stuart Hall

Four-time U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi is in great position to make match play despite a 6-over 78 in Round 1. (USGA/Matt Sullivan)

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The 29th U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship kicked off Saturday amid over-par scores posted by all but one player, local favorite Sarah Davison. Squire Creek Country Club established itself as a worthy adversary that quickly got the field’s attention. On Sunday, how players respond to Squire Creek’s opening punch will determine who sticks around for match play. 

Here’s a rundown of quick news and notes as Round 2 of stroke play unfolds:

1. Looks are deceiving. There were plenty of players shaking their heads over Squire Creek’s degree of difficulty on Saturday, but there are a few things they need to keep in perspective. Yes, the opening-round scoring average was 83.152, but only one player managed to shoot even-par 72, Davison. Also, 10-over 82 is currently tied for 64th. With 64 players ultimately advancing to match play after 36 holes, the scores many signed for may not be as bad as they originally thought.

A bulk of the field’s 132 players need to remind themselves that they are not out of this championship. The mindset should be to realize there are going to be bogeys, so keep those to a minimum, but also try and avoid the big numbers at all costs. There were only six holes (Nos. 5, 9, 11, 15, 16 and 17) in which there were more combined scores of par or better than big numbers (bogeys and higher).

2. Doing Louisiana proud. Sarah Davison lives just off Squire Creek’s 17th hole. Ashley Tonore lives in Monroe, about a 25-minute drive east of Choudrant. On Saturday, they posted two of the day’s three lowest scores – Davison, an even-par 72 to lead the field; Tonore, a 2-over 74 to tie for second. The third member of the Louisiana triumvirate, Covington’s Kay Daniel, is tied for 10th at 5-over 77.

All three players are in good position to advance to match play on Monday. At that point, as local interest grows, the expectations to survive and advance increase with each passing round.  

3. Conservation mode. Saturday's opening-round temperatures were close to ideal as the high reached 72 degrees and breezes blew throughout. On Sunday, as the pressure to make match play heightens, so will the temperature, which is expected to push 80.

By the end of Sunday’s second round, the 64 players advancing to match play will have already likely logged at least 54 holes, including practice rounds, in four days. With the extended forecast calling for temperatures to keep rising toward 90 each of the next four days, conditioning will become a growing factor on a course that is a difficult 6,000-yard walk.     

4. A lasting impression. The field did not need to be reminded how difficult Squire Creek was playing on Saturday. The proof was in the scores. But for those players finishing on the 392-yard, par-4 18th hole, they got an extra reminder. The hole ranked as the course’s hardest with a field scoring average of 4.917 and 89 players posting a score higher than par. 

5. Among the notables. Taffy Brower may be twice the age of first-round leader Sarah Davison, but she still showed she can compete. The 70-year-old Brower, of Boynton Beach, Fla., is the field’s oldest player, but her 10-over 82 has her in contention to make match play. Of the eight USGA champions in the field, six are within the top 64, including the last three champions – Margaret Shirley, of Roswell, Ga. (2014), Julia Potter, of Granger, Ind. (2013) and Meghan Stasi, of Oakland Park, Fla. (2012). Shirley shot 75, Potter 80 and Stasi 78. 

Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.

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