U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Round of 32: Five Storylines
May 29, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.
By David Chmiel, USGA
After a 4-for-2 playoff on Sunday night, the 32-team field is set for match play in the 3rd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, which began at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Monday. Here are five storylines to monitor as the field is cut to 16:
MEDALIST TRILOGY: If you are into real-time scoring on the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball page on usga.org, you enjoyed some edge-of-your seat moments early Sunday afternoon, when three teams were jockeying for position in the chase to be medalists for the championship. First-round co-leaders Kaitlyn Papp and Hailee Cooper went out at 7:12 a.m., began making birdies en route to a second straight 66 and let the rest of the field try to catch up. Brittany Fan and Esther Lee went off at 9:36 and set the course on fire with their record-setting 64. Meanwhile, Taylor Totland and Alice Chen started making more birdies. When the dust settled by about 2 p.m., the championship had an impressive collection of co-medalists. But now all starts anew in match play. Will all three sides be able to continue their strong play as the pressure is ratcheted up a notch.
DOUBLE CLUTCH: Hannah Ko and Alisaundre Morallos knew they needed to improve on their first-round 72. They birdied the fifth hole, gave strokes back with bogeys on the sixth and ninth holes. Ko, 16, of Anaheim, Calif., and Morallos, 17, of Long Beach, Calif., showed no evidence that they had a care in the world.
“We’ve been playing together since we were 11,” Ko said. “We keep laughing until we find our rhythm.” Which they did, notching birdies on 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18 to roll into the first round of match play. The birdies on 17, when Morallos drained a 40-foot putt, and on 18 when Ko played a perfect drive and hit her approach on the challenging green to within 2 feet, were indicative of the teamwork they possess.
“We also make sure that we keep each other level so after every birdie we give each other a little fist-pump or a high-five, laugh it off, and then take a couple deep breaths together to get back into the zone and not get too hyped,” Morallos said. “We do a good job of feeding off our good shots, which helps to keep up that high energy we need to play smart golf, take advantage of the opportunities we give ourselves, and keep that momentum going.”
The pair earned the 26 seed and will face seventh-seeded Amanda Minni and Ellie Slama, starting at 10:30 a.m.
ALTERNATE UNIVERSE: Nicole and Waverly Whiston showed plenty of resolve to survive the 4-for-2 playoff and earn their way into match play. But they, like two other teams still in the field, showed persistence just to make it to The Dunes Club. The 31-seeded Whistons, who will face the 2 seed, defending champions Cooper and Papp, were first alternates who got late notice that they would be filling in for a team that had to withdraw. Dana Williams and Elle Nachmann got the call to fill in a slot and flew in from Texas; they earned the 23 seed and will face 10th-seeded Linyu (Anna) Dong and Rose Zhang. Meanwhile, the Florida team of Macy Fox and Chandler Rosholt had to make last-minute plans to head north to Myrtle Beach as second alternates; the 27 seed will face sixth-seeded Annick Haczkiewicz and Sydney Smith.
GATORS GET TO WORK: Florida Gator teammates Maria Torres and Samantha Wagner knew an opening-round 71 meant they would have to step on the gas right away in the second round of stroke play to ensure that they would make it past the second day of competition. They responded swiftly, with birdies at 2, 8 and 15 – and eagles at 4 and 13 – to earn the 8 seed and a match against 25th-seeded Savannah Grewal and Amelia Root.
ONE HOLE AT A TIME: That seismic whooshing sound you heard throughout the day Sunday was the collective sigh from many members of the 32 teams who earned their way into the first round of match play. But advancing does present its own challenges.
“I am going back to the room, eating dinner, relaxing and trying to prepare for tomorrow,” said Nicole Whiston, who survived the 4-for-2 playoff to make it to match play. “The playoff was so exciting, it will be hard to calm down, but it’s a new start and we have to focus on playing one match at a time.”
Alexandra Rossi, who advanced through the playoff with Southern Methodist University teammate Brigitte Dunne, said she was looking forward to the next phase of the championship. “Now we have the luxury of only playing one team at a time, one hole at a time,” Rossi said. “We can have a bad hole and just throw it away.”
That is sound advice, but when you are the 32 seed, about to face co-medalists Chen and Totland, Rossi better hope there are not too many bad holes.
David Chmiel is manager of member content for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.