U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Prendergast, Secor Closer to Matching Coach’s USGA Title
May 1, 2018 | Tarzana, Calif.
By Tom Mackin
Colorado State women’s golf coach Annie Young knows what it feels like to win a USGA championship. Then Annie Thurman, a standout player at Oklahoma State University, she won the 2002 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort.
Now a couple of her talented players, Katrina Prendergast and Ellen Secor, a junior and sophomore, respectively, are two matches away from winning one of their own.
By defeating Katherine Gravel-Coursol and Paige Nelson, 1 up, in the quarterfinals of the 4th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship on Tuesday afternoon, Prendergast and Secor advanced to face Megan Furtney and reigning U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Erica Shepherd in the semifinals at 7 a.m. PDT on Wednesday at El Caballero Country Club.
After consecutive 4-and-2 wins in their two preceding matches, Prendergast and Secor, who reached the Round of 16 in the championship last year at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C., continued their strong momentum from their morning match, grabbing a 3-up lead after just five holes.
“Yeah, that was crazy,” said Secor, 20, of Portland, Ore. “I actually turned to my dad (her caddie) and I was like, are we actually 3 up because it just didn't feel like it. Me and Kate P. were just kind of playing our B-plus games. But to know that we had that 3-up lead in our back pocket, that was really big.”
But they were facing a side that had already needed five playoff holes just to get into the draw and had eliminated the top seeds on Monday.
That 3-up lead disappeared, thanks to consecutive birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 and a winning par on the 14th hole that squared the match. The teams then exchanged birdies over the next two holes before Secor made a 15-foot birdie putt on 17 to gain a 1-up lead. Both she and Prendergast, 20, of Sparks, Nev., hit stellar approaches on 18 to within 15 feet to seal the victory.
“We've never been down in this championship, so the fact that we were really close to being 1 down, I don't think we ever got worried,” said Secor. “Sixteen, 17 and 18 we knew were gettable holes, so when it got to all square after 14, I put in my mind this is a gettable course and we can beat this team on these last four holes. I think we stuck with our game plan and kind of stayed within ourselves.”
Back in Fort Collins, Colo., Young was following the match online while preparing to travel with the duo this weekend to the NCAA Regionals in Austin, Texas, where they are competing as individuals. Colorado State didn’t qualify as a team.
Despite her players' hectic schedule, Young supported their decision to compete in the championship.
“I don’t think you can prepare in any better way than staying fresh and competing,” said Young. “They’re young, they’ll get rested. We’ve got final exams coming up too, so they will have their plate full. But I think anytime you can play in a USGA championship you need to do it.
“They've kind of been the glue of our team. We've built this program to where we want to compete nationally, and those were the two recruits who I felt could change this program when I signed them. They've done a great job. I don't they have quite touched their full potential yet, which is good. They work hard and know how to play under pressure."
Now in her fifth season as head coach at Colorado State, Young's amateur career is a nice recruiting tool.
“That's actually one of the reasons I went to Colorado State,” said Secor. “She told me her résumé in college, and I was like, that's who I want to play for, that's what I want to be like in college. So she knows these situations, and I'm actually going to ask her for a few tips going into tomorrow, and she'll definitely know what to say.”
Prendergast is well aware of her coach’s USGA championship win 16 years ago. Young’s victory also led to a USA Curtis Cup Team selection in 2004, where she, along with future U.S. Women’s Open champions Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer and Brittany Lang, helped the Americans win at Formby Golf Club in England.
“We'd like to get another one under our belt,” said Prendergast. “I know we can. We work really well together, and I think we'll play well tomorrow.”
Added Secor: “I think we definitely can do it. We are really hot right now. We just made [NCAA] Regionals and we both placed in the top five at our conference (Mountain West) championship, so we're playing really well. We're in our games where we can really excel, especially on this course, and I'm really confident for both of us going into tomorrow.”
Young believes her players can do it as well, especially if they are patient.
“It’s a long week and you’re going to have some up and downs,” said Young. “But they’re in a unique situation where it’s a team event and they’re able to feed off of each other. It’s a life-changing event if you’re able to get that win. Not many people can say that they are a USGA champion. That’s what I hope for them. They’re having a good week and I hope they can finish it with a victory at the very end.”
Arizona resident Tom Mackin is a frequent contributor to USGA websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.