Uppal and Sambach Receive Lesson in Match Play May 29, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. By David Chmiel, USGA

Muskan Uppal (left) and Amanda Sambach competed in match play for the first time Monday at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

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After two days of stroke play, the average age of the competitors in the 3rd U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club dove from 22.4 years old to 19.2. The team of Muskan Uppal and Amanda Sambach played a key part in that demographic shift before running into a pair of seasoned vets in the Round of 32.

“We came in with no expectations,” said Uppal, 16, of Cornelius, N.C. “It is our first USGA championship. Then we played well in stroke play and started feeling good about our games. But we have never played match play, and we are so competitive, so it was a bit of a shock.”

Uppal and Sambach, 14, of Davidson, N.C., are friends from the Cannon School in Concord, N.C. – playing in their first USGA event and earning the chance to play match play for the first time – but the 12-seed got a match-play tutorial, losing 5 and 4 to the 21 seed, Emmy Martin and Kelly McGovern. The victorious TCU teammates, at 21 and 22, respectively, pass for a veteran squad as the championship rolls into the Round of 16.

Still, the North Carolina pair were exuberant in defeat.

“We usually complement each other,” said Uppal. “Any time I miss it, Amanda is on. When she misses it, I am usually on. But today, they hit great approach shots, made crazy putts and played with a strategy that we didn’t understand before we played. We saw then talk over when to go for it and when to be cautious and it showed us how to play in match play, but by then it was too late.”

“We didn’t lose any holes on the back nine,” Sambach said with a laugh, “so we made progress.”

The pair make progress in everything they do. Uppal came to the U.S. with her family when she was 6 and started playing golf because her brother, Uday, took up the game to get to know people.

“I tried it too, and pretty soon, I was beating him. Now he is in college and doesn’t play anymore,” she said, laughing. Upall earned all-state honors in 2016, when Cannon won the state championship. At that time, she started volunteering with The First Tee of Greater Charlotte.

“I just want to keep spreading golf, so I went around to my neighborhood and my family to get them to donate clubs and balls. Then I got into the Birdies for Charity program, and I raised $3,100 for the First Tee. The USGA matched half of it, so I will keep doing it.”

Sambach was the top-ranked tennis under-10 tennis player in North Carolina, but kept bugging her parents to take her to play mini-golf.

“That got me started,” Sambach said. “Then I started hitting golf balls, playing and taking lessons. The tennis world is just so cold and harsh, the opposite of the golf world, where everyone, even girls we compete against, wants people to play well.”

“She is a natural,” said Uppal. “We all cheer each other on. We want to beat you when you are playing your best, because that means we are playing our best. Then you will beat us when you play better. This week was so fun. This was the best course we ever played and the volunteers were awesome.”

They may have met their match in the Round of 32, but golf seems to have found a perfect match in Muskan Uppal and Amanda Sambach.

David Chmiel is manager of member communication for the USGA. Email him at dchmiel@usga.org

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