Round of 16: Five Things to Watch May 1, 2018 | Tarzana, Calif. By David Shefter, USGA

Dawn Woodard (left) and Meghan Stasi are using their wealth of experience to their advantage this week. (USGA/J.D. Cuban)

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Sometimes being a little older – and wiser – can be beneficial.

Meghan Stasi and Dawn Woodard are the oldest side among the remaining 16 teams in the 4th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship by a wide margin, but they’re accustomed to being outliers. When they play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, they are often in the same position.

This week at El Caballero Country Club they are channeling their vast experience in this format, and despite giving up some yards to the “young guns” they know they can hold their own in match play.

In Tuesday morning’s Round of 16, they drew recent Kansas State University graduates Katherine Gravel-Coursol and Paige Nelson, who have a combined age of 47, just four years older than Woodard.

“We don't have to think like a lot of these kids,” said Stasi, 39, a four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion who has advanced to match play with Woodard in all four Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championships. “They've never played this format, so it's more stress and pressure on figuring out who's away. We don’t have to think about that.”

Added Woodard: “For them, it's almost like information overload, and we're just playing golf. I think that's an advantage to a certain extent.”

Here are four other things to watch in the Round of 16:

Pain Free

Megan Furtney was all set to enjoy a fruitful summer of competitive golf in 2017 when a freak accident cut off a portion of her left pinky finger, sidelining the Chicago native for four months. Sitting down at the dinner table, Furtney scooted forward in her metal chair, but didn’t realize the table leg screw was detached from the seat where her left pinky happened to be. She was rushed to the emergency room with a portion of her finger ripped off.

Two surgeries were required to fix the damage and after months of healing, Furtney is back playing golf. She and reigning U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Erica Shepherd, both of whom have committed to attend Duke University in the fall of 2019, are competing as partners for the first time.

The injury didn’t require Furtney to adjust her grip or swing, and she said the only time it hurt is when the weather is cold.

“If it gets below 50 degrees, then I feel a little pain,” said Furtney.

Furtney and Shepherd face University of Arizona teammates Gigi Stoll and Haley Moore in the Round of 16.

Hectic Schedule

Speaking of Moore and Stoll, both are in the midst of a competition frenzy. Last week, they were in Seattle helping Arizona to a third-place showing in the Pacific-12 Conference Championship, where Moore finished third individually. They flew back to Tucson for one day and then hopped a flight to Los Angeles for the Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. Later this week, they’ll fly to Tallahassee, Fla., for NCAA regionals, where they’ll look to qualify for the NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Okla., at the end of May. In between all that, they’ll have final exams.

Many college players choose not to enter the Women’s Amateur Four-Ball because it falls during the postseason. In fact, some coaches discourage their players from participating. Stoll and Moore were given the blessing to play by coach Laura Ianello, a member of the victorious 2002 USA Curtis Cup Team.

“Yeah, it was nice,” said Stoll, 21, an Oregon native who is a junior at Arizona. “I know some coaches just kind of encourage them not to play just because … it is a long stretch. But I think our coaches are really encouraging of us being here, so it's been nice.”

California Rain?

Albert Hammond once penned the lyrics, “It Never Rains in Southern California.” And judging by the drought five of the last six years, that’s a pretty accurate statement. But on Tuesday, there’s a chance of some precipitation with temperatures only reaching the low to mid 60s. Through the first three days of the championship, the weather has been more San Francisco than Los Angeles with cool temperatures and breezy conditions.

School Daze

In addition to Stoll and Moore, and Furtney and Shepherd, three other sides in the Round of 16 are comprised of current or future teammates. Colorado State standouts Ellen Secor and Katrina Prendergast have reached this stage for a second consecutive year. Pepperdine University teammates Momoka Kabori and Hira Naveed are first-time competitors, while future University of Oregon teammates Ty Akabane and Briana Chacon are also first-time partners. They both missed the cut in the inaugural championship three years ago at Bandon Dunes, but with different partners.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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