VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Ally McDonald didn’t hear the tournament official.
After pulling her drive left of her target on the 438-yard 16th hole on Pinehurst No. 2, McDonald marched off the tee, head down, eyes fierce and narrowed. An official asked if she wanted some water. After all, the heat index had soared above 100 degrees. … Continue Reading
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Two months ago, with the NCAA Championship on the line, Ally McDonald had a chance to chase down Southern Cal star Annie Park.
She shot 81.
Yet now, in match play on famed Pinehurst No. 2 at the 111th North & South Women’s Amateur, a potential second chance was looming.
In the round of 16 Friday morning, McDonald was 3 down through nine holes, and a potential quarterfinal meeting with Park seemed very far away.
“I was just giving strokes away,” McDonald said. “I was basically just handing it over.”
But that’s just not the Mississippi State All-American’s style. No way could she allow herself to go out like this.
“If I need to win a hole making a birdie, or making a really big up and down, I’m going to find a way to do that, whether it’s skill, whether it’s just willpower, I’m going to try my best to pull off the shot I need to pull off.”
She’s not kidding.
And so McDonald rallied against Cyna Rodriguez in her morning round, winning five of the last seven holes to set up the supermatch with Park, who cruised into the quarterfinals with a 3 & 2 win over Monifa Sealy.
“I’m very competitive,” says McDonald, who finished 10th in the NCAA Championship this year. “Ask girls on my team, ask anyone who knows me, I am super competitive. I always, always want to win, no matter what it is.”
Now she’s in position to win the 111th North & South Women’s Amateur at Pinehurst Resort. And perhaps as an added bonus for McDonald, now the tournament shifts not only to famed Pinehurst No. 2, host of the 2014 U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open, it goes from stroke play to match play.
“I’ve always enjoyed match play,” McDonald said. “It’s just the different competitiveness of it. In stroke play, you’re really just playing against the golf course. Now you’re going to be battling against the other person. Match play’s always been good for me because I can be more aggressive.”
VILLAGE OF Pinehurst, N.C. – Katherine Perry couldn’t get to the scorer’s table fast enough.
Arriving a few steps ahead of her playing partners, Perry sat down, wiped the July perspiration from her brow and pushed her North Carolina Tar Heels cap up her forehead. The smile creasing her lips goes without saying.
“I had a good day,” said Perry, in breathless appreciation.
N.C. State’s Caroline Ellington, finally reaching her spot at the table, seconded Perry’s emotion.
“Yeah, no kidding,” Ellington deadpanned, breaking into a wide smile as the two players laughed.
Playing in her fourth North & South Women’s Amateur, Perry finally put together the round she has desperately been seeking both at North Carolina and in the prestigious amateur championship, carding the low round of the day with a 5-under 67 that moved her all the way to a tie for second following the second round of stroke play Wednesday.
Reigning NCAA Champion Annie Park came into the 111th North & South Women’s Amateur off one of the best debut seasons in the history of collegiate golf, so it wasn’t surprising she continued her incredible play, cruising to a 5-under 67 to take two-shot lead following the first round of the historic amateur tournament on Tuesday.
But, of course, that was to be expected. After all, Park won four times in her freshman season while also leading Southern Cal to the team NCAA Championship.
So, no, the 67 and the lead were not surprising in the least.
The surprises came when Park commented on her round.
“Honestly, I don’t really know how I did it,” Park said after dicing up the 6,422-yard, par-72 Pinehurst No. 4 with an eagle, four birdies and a bogey. “I struggled.”
That’s hard to believe – until you look at all Park has accomplished in golf over the last few months.
The 18-year-old from Levittown, N.Y., had as dominant of a debut as possible in collegiate golf as a freshman, leading top-ranked USC to its third NCAA team title while winning four individual events en route to 2013 WGCA and Pac-12 Player and Freshman of the Year honors.