BY ALEX PODLOGAR
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Jillian Hollis poured in a par putt on the 10th hole on Friday, getting in and out of a jam that began with hitting her drive into the fairway bunker on the left.
It was then Ally McDonald knew.
Hollis wasn’t going away.
One of the top junior golfers in the world, the 16-year-old from Rocky River, Ohio, was 3 under through five holes and led McDonald, the defending North & South champion and 3rd-ranked amateur in the world, 3 up through six holes. Even after the par on 10 – which came after two gutsy par saves on 8 and 9 – Hollis led 2 up.
“That was when I began to get worried,” McDonald admitted.
A year ago, in her Round of 16 match against Cyna Rodriguez, McDonald was 3 down through nine holes, only to win five of the next seven on Pinehurst No. 2 to survive and advance.
This time, on No. 8, McDonald shifted into the same gear, winning three straight holes on her way to again capturing five of the last seven to clip Hollis 2&1 and advance to the 112th Women’s North & South semifinals, where she will play top-ranked college golfer, UCLA’s Alison Lee.
“I just tried to stay patient,” McDonald said of the deficit. “I began hitting it better and knew I was going to put myself into position to make birdies happen.”
It was a par on 11, which came after nailing a 230-yard approach shot, that got the two-time All-American from Mississippi State started. Then she made birdie at 12 before draining a 60-foot birdie on 13 to go from 2 down to 1 up. Hollis came back to square the match with a birdie on 15, but McDonald’s par save on 16 and brilliant approach to 6 feet on 17 carried her to the come-from-behind win.
It sets up a marquee match with Pac-12 Champion Lee, who cruised by Ashley Holder 4&3 in the Round of 16 match and then held off a furious charge by Florida’s Maria Torres to win 1 up. Lee led 4 up through 13, but needed a par on 18 to hang on and advance.
“I was pretty nervous coming down he last hole,” Lee said. “Even though I was 1 up, it really didn’t feel that way. I had to keep reminding myself that I had the lead, and I was finally able to just get it together and make par.”
McDonald wasn’t surprised.
“Alison is a really, really good player,” she said. “She’s nothing to fool with.”
The winner of that match will face the winner between North Carolina native and UNC Wilmington golfer Lori Beth Adams and Columbia graduate Michelle Piyapattra.
Adams defeated Clemson-bound Lauren Stephenson, who had a hole-in-one on the par-3 5th, 2&1 in the Round of 16 before winning the final two holes to rally past the North & South medalist and top seed, Stanford’s Casey Danielson.
Danielson led 1 up heading to the 17th tee, but bogeyed the final two holes while Adams made cool pars to advance in her fifth North & South event.
“The wind was picking up in the afternoon and it really got tough out there,” said Adams, who advanced to match play in 2012 and narrowly missed it a year ago. “But I stayed with it and never gave up. Anything can happen, and it did.”
Piyapattra, who advanced to the semifinals of the North & South a year ago only to fall to McDonald 2&1, thumped second-round leader Lauren Kim 4&3 in the morning before making par on 18 to clip Alabama’s Janie Jackson 1 up in a back-and-forth match.
It gives Piyapattra a chance at the special win in Pinehurst that got away.
“I just had to come back,” said Piyapattra, who plans to turn professional after the U.S. Amateur. “The people, the staff, the officials, the hosts, everybody here is so welcoming.”
Two years after the men’s North and South Amateur Championship began in 1900, the women’s championship was born and now celebrates its 111th year. It has become one of the most sought after women’s amateur titles and routinely displays the talents of the top amateurs in the game.
North & South champions are among the legends of the game: Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey, Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.
112TH WOMEN’S NORTH & SOUTH AMATEUR
PINEHURST NO. 8
ROUND OF 16
No. 1 Casey Danielson d. No. 16 Gabriella Wahl 19 Holes
No. 8 Lori Beth Adams d. No. 9 Lauren Stephenson 2&1
No. 4 Janie Jackson d. No. 13 Ana Menendez 3&2
No. 12 Michelle Piyapattra d. No. 5 Lauren Kim 4&3
No. 2 Alison Lee d. No. 15 Ashley Holder 4&3
No. 10 Maria Torres d. No. 7 Aliea Clark 2&1
No. 14 Jillian Hollis d. No. 3 Gaby Lopez 4&2
No. 6 All McDonald d. No. 11 Regina Plasencia 5&4
No. 8 Lori Beth Adams d. No. 1 Casey Danielson 1up
No. 12 Michelle Piyapattra d. No. 4 Janie Jackson 1up
No. 3 Alison Lee d. No. 10 Maria Torres 1up
No. 6 Ally McDonald d. No. 14 Jillian Hollis 2&1
PINEHURST NO. 8
No. 8 Lori Beth Adams vs. No. 12 Michelle Piyapattra 7:30 a.m.
No. 3 Alison Lee vs. No. 6 Ally McDonald 7:40 a.m.
TBD, 1 p.m.