Medalists Survive on Day of Upsets in Round of 32 May 23, 2016

Sisters Nicole (right) and Waverly Whiston took out No. 2 seeds Kristen Gillman and Sierra Brooks after surviving a playoff to get into the draw. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball Home

It was a difficult first round of match play for the top seeds in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship on Monday, as seven of the top 10 seeds were eliminated on 6,216-yard, par-72 Streamsong Blue at Streamsong Resort.

Second-seeded Sierra Brooks, 17, of Orlando, Fla., and Kristen Gillman, 18, of Austin, Texas, lost by a 1-up margin to the sister duo of Nicole Whiston, 14, and Waverly Whiston, 16, of San Diego, Calif. Nos. 3 through 6, 9 and 10 also fell in the first round, as did local favorites and 2015 medalists Kendall Griffin and Athena Yang.

Medalists Pauline Del Rosario and Princess Mary Superal, both members of the Philippine National Team, advanced to the Round of 16 with a 3-and-2 win over Phoenix natives Mikayla Fitzpatrick and Alisa Snyder. The other top-10 seeds to advance were No. 7 Hailee Cooper and Kaitlyn Papp, both from Texas, and No. 8 Yu Chiang Hou and Yu Sang Hou, sisters from Chinese Taipei.

The 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by five rounds of match play. The championship is scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final on Wednesday, May 25.

After swapping the lead over the opening eight holes, the Whistons pulled ahead of Brooks and Gillman when Nicole Whiston birdied the par-5 ninth. They extended their lead to 2 up with another birdie at the par-4 15th, but a Brooks-Gillman birdie at the par-5 17th brought the match to No. 18 with the Whistons holding onto a tenuous 1-up lead.

“They were challenging us,” said Nicole, who is competing in her first USGA championship. “They didn’t give it away.”

Nicole’s deft putting again came into play, as her 10-footer for par clinched the victory. In facing Brooks, the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up, and Gillman, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, the sisters knew that top-notch golf would be required.

“We knew we were playing with one of the best,” said Waverly, who reached match play in the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. “We knew we had to come out there with our best. This one (Nicole) was making everything. She kept us up for most of the day.”

In an all-Florida battle, Hannah Leiner, of Pompano Beach, and Latanna Stone, of Riverview, defeated Griffin, of Sebring, and Yang, of Winter Haven, 1 up. Griffin and Yang fought back from 2 down to square the match with a birdie at No. 15. Leiner and Stone’s birdie at No. 17 restored their 1-up lead, and the sides swapped bogeys at No. 18 to seal Leiner and Stone’s victory.

“We were having fun mostly,” said Stone, who qualified for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur at age 10. “Coming down 17, we weren’t worried.”

Meghan Stasi (right) and Dawn Woodard rallied from 3 down over the final nine holes to register a 20-hole victory. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

Four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, 37, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Dawn Woodard, 41, of Greenville, S.C., rallied from 3 down at the turn to take a hard-fought 20-hole victory over 16-year-olds Tze Han Lin and Han Hsuan Yu, both of Chinese Taipei.

Stasi and Woodard squared the match with a birdie at No. 17, and Stasi’s clutch 6-footer for par from above the hole on No. 18 sent the match to extra holes.

“The putt of the match was 18,” said Woodard, a mother of three and a six-time winner of the Women’s South Carolina Golf Association’s Amateur Championship. “She doesn’t even remember putting it. That was not an easy putt.”

After halving the first extra hole with pars, Stasi nestled her approach to the par-5 20th (the second hole) to 4 feet. She converted the birdie to win the match.

“I said, keep going, keep grinding and let’s get to 18. And we did,” said Stasi. “We knew we had to make a couple birdies.”

While the top seeds struggled on Monday, the mid-amateur teams fared well. Lauren Greenlief, 25, of Oakton, Va., the 2015 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion, and Alexandra Austin, 23, of Burke, Va., took a 3-and-1 win over third-seeded Xinying Wang and Katherine Zhu. Katie Miller, 31, of Jeannette, Pa., and Kristen Obush, 32, of Pittsburgh, Pa., eliminated No. 4 seed Ashley Fitzgibbons and Maya Walton by a 3-and-1 margin, while 27-year-olds Olivia Herrick, of Roseville, Minn., and Samantha Sommers, of St. Cloud, Minn., notched a 6-and-4 win over sixth-seeded Madison Barnett and Amanda Doherty.

Princeton University rising seniors Hana Ku, 20, of Basking Ridge, N.J., and Jordan Lippetz, 21, of Oakland, Calif., twice came back from 2 down to eke out a 19-hole victory over Kaitlin Milligan and Sydney Youngblood. With the tee on the par-4 sixth hole moved up to 264 yards, the normally short-hitting Lippetz converted an eagle to help spur her side’s comeback.

“I went for it with my driver,” said Lippetz, who earned second-team All-Ivy League honors this year. “I wasn’t even thinking about the match. I was thinking, I could make an eagle here!”

Lippetz and Ku clinched the comeback when Ku’s approach to the first playoff hole rolled to 3 feet and she tapped in the winning birdie.

“Back in the spring for collegiate play, we played a match-play tournament hosted by Brown. On the last hole, I also had a little 3-foot slider,” said Ku, who earned first-team All-Ivy League honors this year. “Having that experience in my pocket, really recently, helped me mentally for match play.”

The oldest and youngest competitors to reach match play both lost on Monday. Eleven-year-old Alexa Pano and partner Alyssa Lamoureux lost, 5 and 4, to Sofia Chabon and Mikhaela Fortuna. Hailee Cooper and Kaitlyn Papp never trailed en route to a 6-and-4 victory over Mary Ann Hayward, 56, and Judith Kyrinis, 52.

The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. Entries for the 2017 championship, which will be conducted at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C., are available at champs.usga.org.

Christina Lance is the manager of championship communications for the USGA. Email her at clance@usga.org.

More from the U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball