U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Three Sides Share Medalist Honors at U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball
May 28, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
Brittany Fan and Esther Lee shot a championship-record 8-under-par 64 Sunday to become one of three teams claiming medalist honors in the 3rd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club.
Fan, 21, of Pearl City, Hawaii, and Lee, 22, of Los Alamitos, Calif., joined defending champions Hailee Cooper, 18, of Montgomery, Texas, and Kaitlyn Papp, 17, of Austin, Texas; and Furman University teammates Alice Chen, 21, of Princeton, N.J., and Taylor Totland, 22, of Tinton Falls, N.J., at 12-under 132, tying the Women’s Four-Ball stroke-play record.
Fan and Lee, University of Colorado teammates playing in their first four-ball event together, set the 18-hole record and tied the nine-hole record with a 31 on the inward nine at the par-72 Dunes Club, which played at 6,181 yards on Sunday.
“I think we were mainly just focused on playing our own games,” said Fan. “We weren't particularly thinking about going super low. We're both pretty consistent players and we just played off of that consistency and took advantage of the birdie opportunities when we got them.”
After Lee made a 30-foot birdie on the par-3 ninth hole to turn in 33, the duo birdied four of the first six holes on the back nine en route to their record-breaking performance.
Led by three birdie putts on the front nine by Papp, the side of Cooper and Papp continued their remarkable play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. In 72 holes of stroke play the last two years, they have recorded 19 birdies and only one bogey. Despite the low numbers, Cooper says it is patience instead of aggression that has been key to their consistency.
“It's all about guaranteeing par first before you go for birdies and trying to make sure par is the highest score you make,” said Cooper. “That's how we try to approach it.”
Chen and Totland matched Cooper and Papp with 66s on both Saturday and Sunday.
The longtime friends picked up right where they left off to begin the second round, with Totland riding her hot putter to make 30-foot birdie putts on the first two holes.
“I didn't play as well today and Tot just really carried the team,” said Chen. “And luckily she was just on fire. She had really good birdies.”
But Chen helped steady the team on the inward nine when Totland’s putter finally cooled off.
“She saved a lot of pars for us, so we did a good job of balancing each other out,” said Totland. “It was a good team effort.”
Finishing one stroke behind the co-leaders was the side of 2016 USA Curtis Cup teammates Bailey Tardy, 20, of Norcross, Ga., and Monica Vaughn, 22, of Reedsport, Ore. Tardy qualified for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open earlier in the week while Vaughn won the individual Women’s NCAA Championship and helped Arizona State University win the team title.
The college standouts followed a first-round 68 with a 7-under 65 thanks to Tardy’s strong early play.
“Bailey pretty much carried us through the first 13-14 holes, then I had two birdies that counted on the back nine,” said Vaughn, who nearly aced the 173-yard, par-3 17th. “We putted better today. We gave ourselves better chances and played the par 5s a lot better.”
Dawn Woodard, 42, of Greenville, S.C., the only Palmetto State representative in the field, advanced to match play thanks to a clutch birdie from partner Meghan Stasi, 39, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on No. 18.
Stasi hit her approach from 105 yards out to within 12 feet and drained the left-to-right putt to finish at 3-under 141, avoiding a playoff by one stroke.
“That was a big one. We needed to get one back after giving one away on 17,” said Woodard. Added Stasi: “I'm just glad that putt went in, because I missed a lot today.”
Following a 1-under 71 to open stroke play on Saturday, the University of Florida duo of Maria Torres, 22, of Puerto Rico, and Samantha Wagner, 20, of Orlando, Fla., shot 7 under on Sunday, including a pair of eagles on the par-5 fourth and 13th holes.
A 4-for-2 playoff determined the final spots in the match-play field, with sisters Nicole Whiston, 15, and Waverly Whiston, 17, both of San Diego, Calif., and Brigitte Dunne, 20, of Camarillo, Calif., and Alexandra Rossi, 22, of Austin, Texas, advancing with pars on the second playoff hole, the par-3 17th.
“We battled all day. We knew we needed the last birdie to get into the playoff, and we just stuck with it..,” said Dunne, before an exuberant Rossi interjected, “And she did it!”
“We were grinding out there,” Dunne continued. “We did it.”
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball is one of 13 annual national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs. The championship is open to sides of female amateur golfers, each of whom has a Handicap Index® not exceeding 14.4. It consists of two 18-hole rounds of stroke play, after which the field is cut to the low 32 sides for match play.
The Round of 32 begins at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, followed by the Round of 16 and quarterfinals on Tuesday. The championship concludes on Wednesday with the semifinals and 18-hole championship match.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.