U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Quarterfinalists a Global Melting Pot
August 4, 2016 | Springfield, Pa.
By Christina Lance, USGA
Two reigning national champions – NCAA winner Virginia Elena Carta and two-time U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Eun Jeong Seong – are among the quarterfinalists in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,259-yard, par-71 Rolling Green Golf Club.
The eight quarterfinalists reside from seven different countries and a U.S. territory (Puerto Rico).
Carta, 19, of Italy, fought back from an early deficit and earned a 3-and-2 win over Jessica Porvasnik, 21, of Hinckley, Ohio. After falling 1 down through three holes, Carta won Nos. 4-7 to swiftly gain momentum and take a 3-up lead. A double bogey on the par-4 eighth cut into her lead, but consecutive victories on holes 11 and 12 built Carta an insurmountable 4-up lead.
“It feels really good to be able to play tomorrow for sure,” said Carta, a sophomore at Duke University who won the 2016 NCAA Women’s Division I Golf Championship as a freshman. “I'm really excited to have that opportunity.”
Carta, who reached the Round of 16 with a 2-and-1 win over Muni He on Thursday morning, could become the sixth player to win the NCAA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Amateur. She could join Vicki Goetze (1992) as the only two players to win both titles in the same year, as well as Silvia Cavalleri (1997) as the only Italian winners of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. But Carta is understandably wary of looking too far ahead.
“I don't want to focus on the big picture, and this is what I learned at nationals this year, that I didn't have to think about winning or scoring low,” said Carta, who will face University of Florida senior Maria Torres, 21, of Puerto Rico, in Friday’s quarterfinal round. “I just had to think about every single shot and like what iron to pick and where to hit, and that was the key that made me win nationals, so I think that's the key, also, to playing my best game this week.”
Seong, 16, of the Republic of Korea, is attempting to become the first person to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior titles in the same season. Her march toward that record-setting feat continued on Thursday, as she eliminated Chakansim (Fai) Khamborn, 5 and 4, in the Round of 32, and posted an impressive 6-and-4 victory over 2016 Canadian Women’s Amateur champion Hye-Jin Choi in the Round of 16. Choi was also the low amateur in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle.
Both matches started with Seong losing the first hole. But she quickly bounced back to square the match on No. 3 both times, and cruised in from there, never losing another hole en route to victories.
Despite her seemingly smooth play, Seong admitted to feeling a lot of pressure when playing Choi, the top-ranked player from the Republic of Korea in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™.
“If I don't know the player style or her ranking, I can play my [game],” said Seong, who could also become just the third female player to win two USGA championships in one season, joining two others with ties to Korea, Pearl Sinn (1988) and Jennifer Song (2009). “But I know her. I really know her. I know she's a good player, and that's why I cannot trust me.”
Seong’s next opponent is yet another friend and a recent opponent: Andrea Lee, who lost to Seong in the final of last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior. Lee, 17, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., also notched two quick victories on Thursday. In the Round of 32, she won the first five holes and cruised to a 6-and-5 win over Bing Singhsumalee. Her afternoon Round-of-16 match with childhood friend Robynn Ree was equally as smooth, with Lee winning seven of the first nine holes en route to a 6-and-4 triumph.
“I played really well today,” said Lee, an incoming freshman at Stanford University. “My shots were really good, and I made the birdie putts that I needed to.”
Lee and Seong have faced off twice in USGA championships, with Lee winning in the 2014 Women’s Amateur quarterfinals and Seong taking the victory in the 2016 Girls’ Junior.
“We're both really great players, and we both respect each other,” said Lee, the only member of the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team still in the championship. “We know our games really well, and anything can happen tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to it.”
Hannah Green, 19, of Australia, knocked off No. 2 seed Lucy Li, 6 and 4, in the morning’s Round of 32, and then rolled to a 4-and-3 win over Celine Boutier, of France, in the Round of 16. Green, a member of the Australian national team, will meet 2015 Women’s Amateur semifinalist Mathilda Cappeliez, 18, of France, in the quarterfinals.
“I felt really confident over the ball, which I haven't really felt like that the previous few days,” said Green, who lost in the Round of 64 in 2015, her only previous championship appearance. ”It was nice to get that confidence, and it definitely happened throughout the whole day.”
Yuka Saso, 15, of the Philippines, and Nasa Hataoka, 17, of Japan, round out the 2016 Women’s Amateur quarterfinalists.
All eight quarterfinalists are exempt into the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur, which will be conducted Aug. 7-13 at San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista, Calif. The U.S. Women’s Amateur champion traditionally receives an exemption into four major professional championships – the U.S. Women’s Open, the Women’s British Open, the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship.
The match-play rounds of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Coverage will air from 3-6 p.m. EDT on Friday, and from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Exclusive bonus coverage will be streamed live on usga.org on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon.
Christina Lance is a manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at email@example.com.