Pinehurst Golf News Archive

Isabella Fierro Makes History at Pinehurst in Winning the 115th Women’s North & South Amateur

Isabella Fierro, 16, of Mexico, is the 115th Women’s North 7 South Amateur Champion. (Photo by Thomas Toohey Brown)

Mentored by countrywoman Lorena Ochoa, 16-year-old Fierro is the first Mexican-born player to win the historic championship

Bracket

By Alex Podlogar

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, North Carolina – In the championship match of the 115th Women’s North & South Amateur, Isabella Fierro missed just one fairway on Pinehurst No. 2.

She made up for it with the best shot of the championship.

The 16-year-old Mexican phenom rode through all of the highs and lows that the game of golf can sometimes require and came out of them with a brilliant closing stretch of eight holes to beat North Carolina native Anna Redding 2&1 on Friday. Fierro is the first Mexican-born player to win the historic tournament.

“I really can’t believe this right now,” said Fierro, who is not only one of the top-ranked junior players in the world, but one of the most accomplished, and has been mentored by World Golf Hall of Famer Lorena Ochoa-Reyes. “This is my best win ever. I really have no words to express just how happy I am.”

Isabella Fierro hits her tee shot during the championship match of the 115th Women’s North & South Amatuer on Friday on Pinehurst No. 2. (photo by Thomas Toohey Brown)

“Qué orgullo ¡Felicidades!” Ochoa-Reyes tweeted to Fierro following the match, which translates to “What pride! Congratulations!”

In a wild match that felt like it had more lead changes than your typical Duke-Carolina game, Fierro was down after the first hole, led 2-up after the fourth hole and then found herself trailing 2-down after the eighth hole.

Fierro, though, evened the match after making a slippery 4 ½-footer for par to win the 11th hole, then took a 1-up lead after a beautiful approach on 12.

Fierro was 10-for-10 hitting fairways in regulation at that point, but her drive on 13 just tricked into the left native area, about a foot off the fairway. She was left with a testy lie under a wiregrass bush while Redding was in the middle of the fairway just 135 yards from the pin.

But after Redding misfired left of the green on her approach, Fierro could feel the pressure ease off. Trying to scoot the ball up the middle of the green, Fierro made solid contact and the ball landed softly on the front of the green, rolling pin-high to about 8 feet. She curled in the putt and found herself up 2 holes once again.

“I just knew Anna was going to put it close, and when she went left, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Fierro said. “Now I felt like I could just hit a soft pitching wedge to the middle of the green, and it just turned out perfectly.”

Redding made a clutch birdie from 15 feet on the par-3 15th to draw back within one, but Fierro was able to reach the front fringe of the par-5 16th in two shots and two-putt for birdie to win the hole, taking another 2-up lead at the 17th tee.

She made a par there to make Pinehurst history.

“To be the first Mexican player to win the North & South is really special to me,” Fierro said. “And I look at that wall of all the past champions, and so many of them are on the LPGA Tour right now. To think I was able to win a tournament they won before making the Tour is incredible.”

Not that Fierro isn’t accustomed to winning big tournaments. She recently won the South American Women’s Amateur by 10 shots and will travel from Pinehurst to Sweden to play in the European Ladies Amateur Championship next week. Fierro has also won the Mexican National Amateur and the Copa Yucatan.

Anna Redding plays from the native area on the 12th hole during the championship match of the 115th Women’s North & South Amateur on Friday on Pinehurst No. 2. (Photo by Thomas Toohey Brown)

The loss in the final was a tough one for Redding, the 2013 Girls’ North & South Junior Champion. From nearby Concord, Redding has been one of the North & South’s elite players of the last three years, reaching the semifinals in 2015, the quarterfinals in 2016 and the championship this year – a run that included a thrilling 1-up victory over defending champion Kristen Gillman in the quarterfinals.

“My ball-striking just wasn’t at its best today, and Isabella just played really, really well,” Redding said. “It was a great match.

“I’m really proud of myself,” Redding added, as the tears came. “I was just so close.”

The Women’s North & South Amateur is the longest consecutively running amateur championship in the United States. North & South champions are among the legends of the game, and include Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey as well as Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.

As much as the North & South is a championship with a great past, it also continues to foster a great legacy. Eleven of the last 15 Amateur champions have joined the LPGA Tour, four of whom have won major championships – Pressel, Tseng and Lang, who won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. 2011 Women’s North & South Champion Danielle Kang won her first major championship recently at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The Women’s North & South has drawn the top amateur women from around the country and is the longest consecutively running women’s amateur championship in the country. Its first championship was played in 1903.

115th Women’s North & South Amateur

July 12, 2017

Round of 32

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman d. No. 32 Hannah Wood, 7&6

No. 17 Lois Kaye Go d. No. 16 Jennifer Chang, 2&1

No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 25 Virginia Green, 5&4

No. 9 Stephanie Lau d. No. 24 Malia Nam, 4&3

No. 4 Beth Wu d. No. 29 Ashley Sloup, 5 & 4

No. 20 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 13 Gina Kim, 7&6

No. 28 Jessica Spicer d. No. 5 Jackie Chulya, 1up

No. 21 Lakareber Abe d. No. 12 Brenna Lervick, 2&1

No. 2 Jaclyn Lee d. No. 31 Kennedy Swann, 4 &3

No. 15 Julienne Soo d. No. 18 Ellie Nachman, 19 holes

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 26 Marisa Messana, 6&5

No. 23 Molly Skapik d. No. 10 Olivia Cason, 5&4

No. 30 Isabella Skinner d. No. 3 Yujeong Son, 4&2

No. 19 Sandy Choi d. No. 14 Haylee Harford, 1up

No. 6 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 27 Alice Chen, 4&3

No. 22 Jillian Hollis d. No. 11 Martha Leach, 7&6

Round of 16

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman d. No. 17 Lois Kaye Go, 3&2

No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 9 Stephanie Lau, 2&1

No. 4 Beth Wu d. No. 20 Allien Corpuz, 2&1

No. 21 Lakareber Abe d. No. 28 Jessica Spicer 4&2

No. 15 Julienne Soo d. No. 2 Jaclyn Lee, 2&1

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 23 Molly Skapik, 1up

No. 19 Sandy Choi d. No. 30 Isabella Skinner, 3&1

No. 6 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 22 Jillian Hollis, 4&3

Quarterfinals

July 13, 2017

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman vs. No. 8 Anna Redding, 7 a.m.

No. 4 Beth Wu vs. No. 21 Lakareber Abe, 7:08 a.m.

No. 15 Julienne Soo vs. No. 7 Isabella Fierro, 7:16 a.m.

No. 19 Sandy Choi vs. No. 6 Aneka Seumantutafa, 7:24 a.m.

Semifinals

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 21 Lakareber Abe, 2&1

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 19 Sandy Choi, 2up

Championship

July 14, 2017

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 8 Anna Redding, 2&1

 

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Redding Avenges Defeat, Reaches Women’s North & South Final Against Fierro

After close calls in 2015 and 2016, Anna Redding has reached her first Women’s North & South Amateur final.

Anna Redding, vying to become the first North Carolina native to win North & South since 2010, will face 16-year-old Mexican phenom Isabella Fierro

Bracket

By Alex Podlogar

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, North Carolina – Hours after winning the biggest match of her life, Anna Redding hit the greatest 5 iron of her life.

Now she is just 18 holes from history.

A year after being vanquished 7&6 in the quarterfinals by eventual champion Kristen Gillman, Redding avenged the defeat that has lingered in her mind every day since by beating Gillman in the quarterfinals of the 115th Women’s North & South Amateur on Thursday. She then followed that triumph later in the afternoon with a dramatic 2&1 victory over Gillman’s Alabama teammate Lakareber Abe to advance to the championship match against 16-year-old Mexican phenom Isabella Fierro.

“I’m trying to put it into words, but I’m just so overwhelmed,” Redding said, the joy mixed with relief evident in her voice. “I’m overcome with emotion.”

“I’m trying to put it into words, but I’m just so overwhelmed. I’m overcome with emotion.” -Anna Redding

Redding, a junior at Virginia who has been coached by Pinehurst Resort lead instructor Kelly Mitchum, won the 2013 Girls North & South Junior. Playing her fourth Women’s North & South Amateur, Redding reached the semifinals in 2015 before the quarterfinal loss to Gillman in 2016.

“Last year was no contest,” Redding said of the loss. “(Kristen) just wailed on me.”

This time was different. After a birdie on the 3rd hole, Redding was 2-up, only for Gillman to square the match with a par on the 9th. Though Redding led 1-up after 14, Gillman evened the match again with a birdie on 15.

But Redding hit a deft approach shot from the right native area on 18, leaving herself about 25 feet for birdie. Gillman, who missed the fairway left, could only advance her ball a few yards. A two-putt par clinched the win for Redding, who emphatically embraced her mother after the match.

“It felt like redemption,” Redding said. “Kristen’s phenomenal, but finally I was able to push her and have the kind of match I had hoped to have one day against her.”

Hours later in the semifinal, however, Redding found herself in another tense match with Abe. Redding was 1-down after 11, but following about a 45-minute rain delay, Redding drained a birdie putt on 12 to even the match. Redding had good looks again at 13 and 14 that just wouldn’t fall, but made birdie at 15 to take a 1-up lead.

She found the fairway on the par-5 16th, and from 189 yards, took 5 iron.

“That was the best 5 iron I’ve ever hit in my life,” she said. “I’ve hit some good 5 irons, but that one was great.”

The approach nestled 12 feet left of the hole and Redding made the putt, closing out Abe to advance to the championship, where Redding will try to become the first North Carolina native to win the Women’s North & South Amateur since Cydney Clanton in 2010. Like Clanton, Redding is also from Concord.

Isabella Fierro won the South American Women’s Amateur in January.

There Redding will face Fierro, one of the top-ranked junior players in the world. Fierro, who won the South American Women’s Amateur in January to qualify for the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship next week in Sweden, has been mentored by Lorena Ochoa, the first Mexican golfer to be enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Just 16, Fierro has cruised through much of match play, with wins of 6&5 and 5&4. She beat Duke’s Sandy Choi 2-up in the semifinals to advance to the final.

“The U.S. Women’s Open, the North & South, Michelle Wie – to walk where all these players in history have walked is really special,” Fierro said. “For me to be the first Mexican in the finals means so much to me.”

“The U.S. Women’s Open, the North & South, Michelle Wie – to walk where all these players in history have walked is really special. For me to be the first Mexican in the finals means so much to me.” -Isabella Fierro

It’s been a whirlwind experience in Pinehurst for Fierro. When her family landed in Raleigh last weekend, Fierro’s clubs didn’t make it. Twelve hours later they were delivered to her. There was only one problem.

“When I unpacked them, my driver was broken in two,” she said.

Scrambling to find another driver, Fierro finally settled on the same model, though the shaft was far heavier than her original.

Isabella Fierro

“I thought it would a tough adjustment, but it hasn’t made too much of a difference,” Fierro said. “For a while I thought I might have to hit 3-wood for the week, but it’s working for me.

“It might be time for a change,” she quipped.

The championship match will be played at 7 a.m. on Friday on Pinehurst No. 2. Spectators are welcome to follow the match and admission is free.

The Women’s North & South Amateur is the longest consecutively running amateur championship in the United States. North & South champions are among the legends of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey as well as Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.

As much as the North & South is a championship with a great past, it also continues to foster a great legacy. Eleven of the last 15 Amateur champions have joined the LPGA Tour, four of whom have won major championships – Pressel, Tseng and Lang, who won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. 2011 Women’s North & South Champion Danielle Kang won her first major championship recently at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The Women’s North & South has drawn the top amateur women from around the country and is the longest consecutively running women’s amateur championship in the country. Its first championship was played in 1903.

115th Women’s North & South Amateur

July 12, 2017

Round of 32

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman d. No. 32 Hannah Wood, 7&6

No. 17 Lois Kaye Go d. No. 16 Jennifer Chang, 2&1

No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 25 Virginia Green, 5&4

No. 9 Stephanie Lau d. No. 24 Malia Nam, 4&3

No. 4 Beth Wu d. No. 29 Ashley Sloup, 5 & 4

No. 20 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 13 Gina Kim, 7&6

No. 28 Jessica Spicer d. No. 5 Jackie Chulya, 1up

No. 21 Lakareber Abe d. No. 12 Brenna Lervick, 2&1

No. 2 Jaclyn Lee d. No. 31 Kennedy Swann, 4 &3

No. 15 Julienne Soo d. No. 18 Ellie Nachman, 19 holes

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 26 Marisa Messana, 6&5

No. 23 Molly Skapik d. No. 10 Olivia Cason, 5&4

No. 30 Isabella Skinner d. No. 3 Yujeong Son, 4&2

No. 19 Sandy Choi d. No. 14 Haylee Harford, 1up

No. 6 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 27 Alice Chen, 4&3

No. 22 Jillian Hollis d. No. 11 Martha Leach, 7&6

Round of 16

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman d. No. 17 Lois Kaye Go, 3&2

No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 9 Stephanie Lau, 2&1

No. 4 Beth Wu d. No. 20 Allien Corpuz, 2&1

No. 21 Lakareber Abe d. No. 28 Jessica Spicer 4&2

No. 15 Julienne Soo d. No. 2 Jaclyn Lee, 2&1

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 23 Molly Skapik, 1up

No. 19 Sandy Choi d. No. 30 Isabella Skinner, 3&1

No. 6 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 22 Jillian Hollis, 4&3

Quarterfinals

July 13, 2017

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman vs. No. 8 Anna Redding, 7 a.m.

No. 4 Beth Wu vs. No. 21 Lakareber Abe, 7:08 a.m.

No. 15 Julienne Soo vs. No. 7 Isabella Fierro, 7:16 a.m.

No. 19 Sandy Choi vs. No. 6 Aneka Seumantutafa, 7:24 a.m.

Semifinals

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 21 Lakareber Abe, 2&1

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 19 Sandy Choi, 2up

Championship

July 14, 2017

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 8 Anna Redding vs. No. 7 Isabella Fierro, 7 a.m.

 

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With a Little Help From Payne, Defending Champ Gillman Marches into North & South Quarterfinals

Kristen Gillman, the defending Women’s North & South Amateur Champion, advances to the quarterfinals in 2017. (Photo by Thomas Toohey Brown)

Bracket

By Alex Podlogar

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, North Carolina – Not only can Kristen Gillman rely on her own winning experience on Pinehurst No. 2, she can also follow the advice of someone else who knows a thing or two about Donald Ross’ masterpiece.

Payne Stewart.

Gillman, the defending Women’s North & South Champion, cruised through two matches on a long, hot and humid Wednesday in the North Carolina sandhills to move two steps closer to becoming the first player to win back-to-back North & South Amateurs since Beth Bauer pulled it off in 1998-99. With wins of 7&6 in the Round of 32 and 3&2 – punctuated by a 14-foot birdie on 16 – Gillman advances to the quarterfinals of the 115th playing of the historic amateur event.

“It’s been really cool so far,” said Gillman, who was the medalist following Tuesday’s round and is a past U.S. Women’s Amateur champion. “I’m enjoying it right now, and it’s definitely great to be back in Pinehurst.”

It was on No. 2 in 1999 when Stewart famously made a dramatic 15-foot par putt to beat Phil Mickelson by one shot and win the U.S. Open. At the time, Stewart was coached by Chuck Cook, who now also coaches Gillman, who was an All-American in her freshman season at Alabama.

And while Gillman certainly can remember her march to the 2016 Women’s North & South Amateur title, she’s also had a little extra help, thanks to Cook.

“He showed me Payne’s yardage book from the 1999 U.S. Open,” said Gillman, of Austin, Texas. “And it’s amazing to look at. He had marked all of these spots on where it was best to be, but even better, he marked spots where you absolutely didn’t want to be, and had those areas scratched out. There’s a lot of history in that book, but it’s helpful, too.”

Anna Redding

Gillman may have to lean on the book more if she’s to navigate a very difficult half of the bracket. Her next match is against a determined Anna Redding, who probably boasts the most experience at Pinehurst. The 2013 Girls’ North & South Junior champion, Redding, a junior at Virginia, is playing in her fourth Women’s North & South and finds herself making another deep run in a tournament that means so much to her.

“Since I won the Junior, winning the Women’s North & South makes it mean a little extra than just the title of the Women’s North & South,” said Redding, who is from nearby Concord. “There’s just so much incredible history here and to make my mark once…I’m just trying to do it again. To have my name on that wall in the building is…well, it would mean a lot.”

Redding rolled to a 5&4 win in her morning match, but struggled to find her game in the afternoon against Stephanie Lau. But Lau struggled as well, allowing Redding to grind her way to a 2-up lead through 9 despite shooting 39.

But Redding closed well, making birdie at 16 and then draining a 30-foot putt on 17 to close out the match.

It was a finish that Redding needed as she looks ahead to a quarterfinal rematch with Gillman, who beat Redding 7&6 in the same round in 2016.

Redding admitted being excited about a second chance against Gillman.

“I’ve been kind of waiting and ready for it,” she said. “I’m really excited to play her again. We’ve both got another year under our belts, and I’m excited about the golfer I’ve become over this past year. So I’m actually looking forward to it, whatever the outcome. I’m ready to play her again.”

Beth Wu

Possibly looming in the semifinals could be 2015 Women’s North & South Runner-up Beth Wu, who rallied from 3-down through 8 holes in her Round of 16 match Southern Cal’s Allisen Corpuz. Wu came alive just in time, making birdies at 9, 10, 11 and 12 to take control of the match. A beautiful pitch to 2 feet on 16 led to another birdie to keep a 1-up lead, and Wu had her birdie conceded on 17 after a Corpuz bogey.

“I had a mental shift; I started the match as a bit of a hothead,” Wu, of Diamond Bar, California, admitted. “I had to take a breath and just remember the things I learned at school from my coaches and psychologists. It was good to come back like that.”

Wu will face Gillman’s Alabama teammate Lakareber Abe in the quarterfinals while Julienne Soo, who upset No. 2 seed Jaclyn Lee in the Round of 16, will take on Isabella Fierro. Aneka Seumanutafa, who won the 2017 Girls North & South Junior just last week, also advanced to the quarterfinals and will face Duke’s Sandy Choi.

The Women’s North & South Amateur is the longest consecutively running amateur championship in the United States. North & South champions are among the legends of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey as well as Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.

As much as the North & South is a championship with a great past, it also continues to foster a great legacy. Eleven of the last 15 Amateur champions have joined the LPGA Tour, four of whom have won major championships – Pressel, Tseng and Lang, who won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. 2011 Women’s North & South Champion Danielle Kang won her first major championship recently at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The Women’s North & South has drawn the top amateur women from around the country and is the longest consecutively running women’s amateur championship in the country. Its first championship was played in 1903.

115th Women’s North & South Amateur

July 12, 2017

Round of 32

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman d. No. 32 Hannah Wood, 7&6

No. 17 Lois Kaye Go d. No. 16 Jennifer Chang, 2&1

No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 25 Virginia Green, 5&4

No. 9 Stephanie Lau d. No. 24 Malia Nam, 4&3

No. 4 Beth Wu d. No. 29 Ashley Sloup, 5 & 4

No. 20 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 13 Gina Kim, 7&6

No. 28 Jessica Spicer d. No. 5 Jackie Chulya, 1up

No. 21 Lakareber Abe d. No. 12 Brenna Lervick, 2&1

No. 2 Jaclyn Lee d. No. 31 Kennedy Swann, 4 &3

No. 15 Julienne Soo d. No. 18 Ellie Nachman, 19 holes

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 26 Marisa Messana, 6&5

No. 23 Molly Skapik d. No. 10 Olivia Cason, 5&4

No. 30 Isabella Skinner d. No. 3 Yujeong Son, 4&2

No. 19 Sandy Choi d. No. 14 Haylee Harford, 1up

No. 6 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 27 Alice Chen, 4&3

No. 22 Jillian Hollis d. No. 11 Martha Leach, 7&6

Round of 16

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman d. No. 17 Lois Kaye Go, 3&2

No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 9 Stephanie Lau, 2&1

No. 4 Beth Wu d. No. 20 Allien Corpuz, 2&1

No. 21 Lakareber Abe d. No. 28 Jessica Spicer 4&2

No. 15 Julienne Soo d. No. 2 Jaclyn Lee, 2&1

No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 23 Molly Skapik, 1up

No. 19 Sandy Choi d. No. 30 Isabella Skinner, 3&1

No. 6 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 22 Jillian Hollis, 4&3

Quarterfinals

July 13, 2017

Pinehurst No. 2

No. 1 Kristen Gillman vs. No. 8 Anna Redding, 7 a.m.

No. 4 Beth Wu vs. No. 21 Lakareber Abe, 7:08 a.m.

No. 15 Julienne Soo vs. No. 7 Isabella Fierro, 7:16 a.m.

No. 19 Sandy Choi vs. No. 6 Aneka Seumantutafa, 7:24 a.m.

Semifinals

Pinehurst No. 2

TBD

Championship

July 14, 2017

Pinehurst No. 2

TBD

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Defending Champion Gillman Earns Medalist Honors at 115th Women’s North & South

Defending Women’s North & South Amateur Champion Kristen Gillman won medalist honors on Tuesday.

By Stan Cole

Scores

Tee Times

PINEHURST, N.C. – Finishing atop the leaderboard at the North & South Women’s Amateur is becoming a habit for Kristen Gillman.

After 36 holes of stroke play, the defending champion sat at 2-over-par, good enough to earn a different Putter Boy trophy and the top seed for the match play portion of the 115th edition of the event at Pinehurst No. 2.

Gillman, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, a University of Alabama standout and resident of Austin, Texas, sat two strokes off the lead after Monday’s opening round on the 6,332-yard layout. But on Tuesday, she was the lone player in the 89-golfer field to shoot even-par 71 and finished two shots better than Jaclyn Lee and Yujeong Son.

Sitting 3 over through her first eight holes, Gillman made three birdies – on the par-4 11th and 13th and the par-5 16th – over her last eight.  Her steady play – a tournament-best 26 pars with nothing worse than bogey – put Gillman atop the 32-golfer match play field.

Gillman won the big Putter Boy trophy in 2016.

“Actually I didn’t hit it that good. I was just making putts and that kind of saved me today,” said Gillman, who is the 22nd-ranked women’s amateur in the world. “It’s definitely nice being up there on the leaderboard, but starting match play is just kind of like a whole new tournament.”

Lee followed Monday’s 3-over 74 with a plus-one 72 Tuesday and played the final nine holes at even par. She made 24 pars over 36 holes with four birdies and only eight bogeys to finish at 4 over through two days of high humidity and temperatures in the 90s.

“I was dropping some putts today,” said Lee, a resident of Calgary, Alberta, who competes at Ohio State. “My ball striking was not as good as yesterday, it was kind of average. But making sure you hit it in the right places; that’s most important.”

Son (71-75—146) shared the opening round lead, but a double-bogey on the 18th Tuesday dropped her into a tie for second place.  Bethany Wu (74-74—148), Jackie Chulya (73-75—148) and last week’s North & South Girls Junior champ Aneka Seumanutafa (72-76—78) finished stroke play in a tie for fourth.

Click to Enlarge

The oldest competitor in the field, 55-year-old Martha Leach of Hebron, Kentucky, also qualified for match play after finishing in a tie for 10th at 8-over 150 (76-74).  Competing in her 28th North & South event, the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame member was even through her first five holes before she aced the par-3 6th.

“It was my first competitive hole-in-one, and I’ve been competing for 42 years,” said Leach. “That’s a long time, and it was on a booger of a hole. I hit a 4-hybrid in and was 178 to the hole.  I hit a good shot, wanted to land it about 170, and I just saw it roll, and I hoped it’s still on the green – you just don’t know till you get up there.”

A member of the host family of Leach’s playing partner Heather Ciskowski indicated that the ball was in the cup, confirming Leach’s third career ace, but first in tournament play.

“I just like coming to the Village of Pinehurst,” said Leach.  “It’s just the atmosphere. People here love golf, people want to play golf, and people want to play No. 2.  It’s a truly unbelievable bonus to make it into match play. I’m not playing a whole lot of golf because I’m in real estate and work obligations I have.”

According to Gillman, match play strategy on the historic Donald Ross design is similar to stroke play.

“It doesn’t really matter what seed you are, you just have to beat the person you’re playing against,” said the defending champ.  “You have to hit a lot of fairways and greens. These aren’t easy holes and par is good on most.”

Sixteen matches are set for Wednesday morning, followed by the afternoon round of 16. Quarterfinal and semifinal matches will be played Thursday with the final scheduled for Friday.

The Women’s North & South Amateur is the longest consecutively running amateur championship in the United States. North & South champions are among the legends of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey as well as Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.

As much as the North & South is a championship with a great past, it also continues to foster a great legacy. Ten of the last 13 Amateur champions have joined the LPGA Tour, four of whom have won major championships – Pressel, Tseng and Lang, who won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. 2011 Women’s North & South Champion Danielle Kang won her first major championship recently at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The Women’s North & South has drawn the top amateur women from around the country and is the longest consecutively running women’s amateur championship in the country. Its first championship was played in 1903.

 

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Trio of youngsters lead after first round of 115th Women’s North & South Amateur

Cary’s Jennifer Chang shares the lead after the first round of the 115th Women’s North & South Amateur.

Scores

Tee Times

By Stan Cole

PINEHURST, N.C. – In a field full of top collegiate talent, two of the younger players finished Monday’s opening round in a 3-way tie atop the leaderboard in the 115th North & South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2.

Jennifer Chang of Cary and Yujeong Son of Norman, Okla., finished at even-par 71 along with Valerie Tanguay of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.  Aneka Seumanutafa of Emmitsburg, Md., who won last week’s North & South Junior Girls Championship, is in fourth place at one-over-par 72.

The top 32 players in the 90-golfer field after Tuesday’s second round will advance to the match play portion of the event.

Playing in hot and muggy conditions on the historic Donald Ross design that stretched to 6,332 yards, no one in the field finished in red numbers Monday.

Defending Women’s North & South Champion Kristen Gillman enjoyed a solid round returning to Pinehurst No. 2 on Monday.

Defending champion Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas, is one of seven players in a tie for fifth place at 2-over-par 73.  Thirty-six individuals finished the day at 6 over or better on a day that produced nearly five times as many bogeys (504) than birdies (115).

A semifinalist in the 2016 North & South, Chang was the first player to sign for an even-par round on the day.  Her approach on the par-4 18th hit the flag stick to leave her 20 feet, which she two-putted for par.

“I only made a few errors, those three bogeys, but I came back with three birdies and overall I was really happy with my round,” said Chang, who has verbally committed to play at Southern Cal.  “You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself because at No. 2; you never know what can happen. You can go from making birdie to making triple (bogey) at any time.”

Son, who is just 16, but has won the last three Oklahoma State Women’s Amateur Championships, was in shape to hold the lead before a double-bogey on her final hole of the day, the par-3 9th.  Starting from the 10th tee, she made eagle when she holed out from 128 yards on the par-4 13th, and stood at 3-under through 14 holes before making bogey on the par-3 6th.

“Honestly, it was good, but it wasn’t great. I had some mistakes, but covered up with long birdie putts,” said Son, who had four birdies and the eagle.  “You have to keep it in play, and not mess up too much on the putting because the greens are really hard out here.”

Tanguay, who plays collegiately at Oklahoma, also started from the 10th tee, and was 2 over through six, but birdied the par-5 16th.  She played bogey-free golf over her final 12 holes – mixing in a birdie on the par-4 7th, to finish even.

“My irons were solid. My driver was not, but even if I was in the bunker, I was able to manage it, bring it on the greens and make two-putts,” said Tanguay. “You have to be really patient, not to get frustrated if you make a bad shot.”

Aneka Seumanutafa won the Girls’ Junior North & South last week and is contending again this week.

Seumanutafa was 3 over through her first six holes, but made four birdies over the next five holes and finished her round at 1 over.

“I struggled the first three holes, but brought it back,” said the 2016 Maryland Junior Girls Amateur champ. “Winning the Junior North & South actually boosted my confidence coming into this week. I shot low here last week, so I know I can compete with all these college girls out here.”

One year after winning the 2016 North & South, Gillman was even through 10 holes Monday, but did not let three bogeys in a four-hole span spoil the day. She birdied the 478-yard 16th to finish at 2 over.

“It’s definitely really cool to be the defending champion, but I didn’t feel any extra pressure out there,” said Gillman, who plays at Alabama and won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur.  “Today I made a lot of pars. I had the three bogeys and one birdie, but it was pretty steady. I hit most of my greens, kept it in the right places and had a lot of easy par putts.”

The Women’s North & South Amateur is the longest consecutively running amateur championship in the United States. North & South champions are among the legends of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey as well as Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.

As much as the North & South is a championship with a great past, it also continues to foster a great legacy. Ten of the last 13 Amateur champions have joined the LPGA Tour, four of whom have won major championships – Pressel, Tseng and Lang, who won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. 2011 Women’s North & South Champion Danielle Kang won her first major championship recently at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The Women’s North & South has drawn the top amateur women from around the country and is the longest consecutively running women’s amateur championship in the country. Its first championship was played in 1903.

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