After Quarterfinals Escape, Cappeliez Looks to Take Next Step August 6, 2016 | Springfield, Pa. By Lisa D. Mickey

Mathilda Cappeliez is two victories away from becoming the second golfer from France to win the U.S. Women's Amateur. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

U.S. Women's Amateur

Mathilda Cappeliez had removed her visor on the 18th green.

She thought her quarterfinal match against Hannah Green was over and that her stay in the 116th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship had ended.

Green, 1 up through 17 holes, needed only to two-putt for par to close out the match at Rolling Green Golf Club.

But Cappeliez, 18, of France, had just drained a critical 10-foot par putt, which placed just enough pressure on Green, who missed her 3-footer to win.

Green’s miss squared the match and sent the two players to the par-3 10th hole for the first extra hole of golf. Cappeliez found the right bunker, while Green’s tee shot landed in the left bunker.

“I was pretty confident in my bunker shot,” said Cappeliez, currently No. 26 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™. “All week, I had been pretty good in the bunker.”

From the bunker, only a 5-foot putt remained between Cappeliez winning the match or potentially going home.

“Back on No. 17, I missed the same putt,” she said, comparing her 19th-hole putt to her earlier three-putt green in regulation. “I felt stress, but then I said: ‘It’s good stress. Just make it!’”

This time, Cappeliez saved par and Green made bogey. And this time, when she removed her visor, it was to shake hands as the winner moving into the semifinals on Saturday morning against Eun Jeong Seong.

Friday’s quarterfinal was a dramatic day for the Frenchwoman, who was 3 down to Green after 12 holes. Struggling with her putting all day, she talked to herself more than once and was quietly reassured by her father/caddie, Cristophe.

“I said, ‘OK Mathilda, just keep calm,” said Cappeliez, who returned to the semifinals for the second consecutive year.

Cappeliez won holes 13, 14 and 15 to square the match against Green, before her bogey on No. 17 gave Green the 1-up lead heading into the 18th hole.

But the French player, who finished 59th in the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2, said she tried to “take some pleasure from the round and have some fun on the course.”

“Even though my putting was not here, my long game was pretty good,” said Cappeliez, the 2014 European Team Girls champion, who will start her freshman year at Wake Forest University this fall.  

Admittedly, every French woman who plays golf knows the bar was set high back in 1968 when France’s Catherine Lacoste finished as medalist in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, then returned to win the championship in 1969, when she defeated Shelley Hamlin, 3 and 2, at Las Colinas Country Club. Two years earlier, Lacoste won the U.S. Women’s Open and remains the only amateur to do so.

“Any woman golf player from France knows about her,” said Cappeliez of Lacoste. “Winning in the U.S. is definitely representing something special. I will just trust in myself and do my best.”

And Lacoste, watching online, was tuned into Cappeliez’s big day in Pennsylvania.

“Mathilda is certainly a very good golfer,” Lacoste said via Facebook. “It would be wonderful to finally see another French player making her way to the top.”

Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.

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