Pinehurst News

Alison Lee triumphs in 19 holes to win 112th Women’s North & South Amateur

Alison Lee, N&S 2014 Championship (2) (991x1280)

Alison Lee, the 112th Women’s North & South Amateur Champion

SCORES

BY ALEX PODLOGAR

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – She is the reigning Pac-12 Conference Champion. She’s played in three U.S. Women’s Opens and made the cut there when she was just 14. In 2013, she made the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. And this season, she won the inaugural Annika Award, given to the top women’s college golfer in the country.

But it was her triumph over Lori Beth Adams in 19 holes in the 112th Women’s North & South Amateur on Saturday at Pinehurst No. 8 that makes Alison Lee believe.

Believe in herself.

“To have my name next to all of those legends, it’s not even an emotion I can describe because it’s so cool,” said Lee, clutching the coveted Putter Boy trophy close to her chest. “It just shows I have the ability to be able to make it out there on Tour as well, and to play well. That’s what I eventually want to do.”

AlisonLeeChampion

Eight of the last 11 North & South Champions before Lee, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at UCLA, have earned their LPGA Tour cards, and the founders of the LPGA Tour have won the Women’s North & South. The 111th champion, Ally McDonald, is a close friend of Lee’s, was a Curtis Cup teammate, and on Saturday, a semifinal opponent whose dream of becoming the first back-to-back North & South winner in 15 years died at the hands of Lee.

“To have my name next to all of those legends, it’s not even an emotion I can describe because it’s so cool. It just shows I have the ability to be able to make it out there on Tour as well, and to play well. That’s what I eventually want to do.” – Alison Lee

But as much of a thrill that 2&1 victory over McDonald on Saturday morning was, it was the fight given by Adams, a North Carolina native and graduate of nearby UNC Wilmington, that elevated Lee’s performance.

Through 13 holes, Lee was 4 under, and nearly had a one-in-hole on the par-3 5th. Yet though 13, the match remained all square. Adams, who defeated 2013 North & South semifinalist Michelle Piyapattra 1 up in the morning, made six putts of 9 feet or longer to either win or halve holes to stay in the match, never allowing Lee to move ahead by more than two holes.

 

Lori Beth Adams

Lori Beth Adams is the 112th Women’s North & South Amateur Runner-Up.

“It was a dogfight,” said Adams, who was making her fifth appearance in a North & South event. “(Lee) played great; she was making putts left and right, but so was I.”

Adams eventually began to break Lee, moving from 1 down on 12 to 1 up through 14. Adams got up and down on 13 to square the match – making a 7-footer for par – then went 1 up when Lee’s approach buried in a greenside bunker, leading to a double bogey.

“It was a dogfight. (Lee) played great; she was making putts left and right, but so was I.” -Lori Beth Adams

Adams kept that lead until 17 – when Lee drilled a long iron to 15 feet and made the slippery downhill putt for birdie to square the match again.

“I thought I had her on 17, but she made the putt,” Adams said.

Lee had a chance to win the championship with a 12-foot birdie putt on 18, but left it short. (“I babied it,” Lee said afterward.) Adams then coolly drained a 5-footer for par to extend the match.

Adams split the fairway on the first hole while Lee missed right and found herself in the rough. But Adams left her approach short in the bunker fronting the green, and was met with a buried lie.

“I didn’t want to be long, Adams said. “It looked great in the air.”

Lee had a difficult angle to the green, but flushed her short iron. Midflight, Lee’s caddie, Mark Tinnin, asked, “Did you get it?” Lee answered quickly, the ball still in the air, “Yeah.”

The ball landed on the left fringe of the green, just 10 feet from the cup. Adams’ bunker shot flew the green, forcing her to settle for double bogey. She conceded the match to Lee.

“I hate that it had to end that way,” Lee said. “Lori Beth played an incredible match.”

“If I had to describe the match in one word, it would be ‘intense.’” -Alison Lee

As did Lee, who made five birdies in the match – six you count the conceded one on the 19th.

She needed every one of them.

“If I had to describe the match in one word, it would be ‘intense,’” Lee said. “From beginning to end, we both played really well and were making birdies on top of each other. It was just a great, solid championship match. It’s what a championship match should be all about – both players at the tops of their games.”

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

FRIDAY

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

QUARTERFINALS

No. 8 Lori Beth Adams d. No. 1 Casey Danielson 1up

No. 12 Michelle Piyapattra d. No. 4 Janie Jackson 1up

No. 2 Alison Lee d. No. 10 Maria Torres 1up

No. 6 Ally McDonald d. No. 14 Jillian Hollis 2&1

SEMIFINALS

SATURDAY

PINEHURST NO. 8

No. 8 Lori Beth Adams d. No. 12 Michelle Piyapattra 1up

No. 2 Alison Lee d. No. 6 Ally McDonald 2&1

CHAMPIONSHIP

No. 2 Alison Lee d. No. 8 Lori Beth Adams 19 Holes

 

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Defending Champ Ally McDonald Rallies to Advance to North & South Semifinals

Ally McDonald, of Mississippi State, is in contention at the 111th North & South Amateur.

Defending North & South Champion Ally McDonald

MATCH PLAY BRACKET

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.

But she had been here before.

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Defending champ Ally McDonald returns to North & South match play

MIssissippi State All-American defeated NCAA Champion Annie Park in the quarterfinals of the 111th North & South Women's Amateur at Pinehurst Resort.

Defending Women’s North & South Amateur Champion Ally McDonald.

SCORES

MATCH PLAY BRACKET

BY ALEX PODLOGAR

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Ally McDonald controls her emotions. It’s a skill that does a lot for her considerable golf game.

She speaks in measured tones. She takes time to contemplate her words. If things begin to go awry on the golf course, her mouth tightens, her eyes focus sternly ahead, and her stride quickens.

But the emotion stays inside.

Until a day ago. At the scorer’s table.

“The struggle is REAL, y’all,” McDonald groaned aloud, making the five words sound like 10 in the full-throated Mississippi drawl she usually keeps so carefully restrained.

A struggle for McDonald, the defending Women’s North & South Amateur champion and third-ranked amateur in the world, is a great day for most players. That emotional release from the Mississippi State All-American came after a second straight 1-over-par 72, which put her in a comfortable position for Thursday’s final round of stroke play to advance with the top 16 seeds into match play, which will decide the 112th champion of the historic event on Friday and Saturday.

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Stanford’s Danielson, Kim have more in common than North & South lead

Casey Danielson

Stanford’s Casey Danielson

BY ALEX PODLOGAR

SCORES

PAIRINGS

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – They ran into each other at the Detroit airport.

They did it again after the second round of the 112th Women’s North & South Amateur.

Stanford teammates Casey Danielson and Lauren Kim helped the Cardinal win the Pac-12 Conference Championship in April and now are each setting their sights on one of amateur golf’s top prizes, both ascending to the top of the North & South leaderboard with UCLA’s Alison Lee at Pinehurst No. 8 on Wednesday.

And they plan to stay together for a while.

“It’s funny,” said Danielson, who shot the round of the day with a sparkling bogey-free 68. “We traveled here together, we’re staying with the same host family, and she’s coming to visit me after this tournament at home in Wisconsin. And so it’s fun she’s playing well.”

 

Nobody played better on Wednesday, though, than Danielson, who hit 13 of 14 fairways and 15 greens in regulation. Starting on the 10th tee after an 80-minute rain delay, Danielson opened with seven straight pars until birdies on 17 and 18. She added a birdie on the short par-4 3rd before finishing with six straight pars to move to 2 under for the championship.

“I was very consistent,” said Danielson, whose group was playing right in front of Kim’s. “I’m hitting the ball really well. I’m striking it a lot better than I have been.”

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Stanford’s Lauren Kim

That leaves her tied with Lee and her teammate Kim. The rising junior at Stanford, who recently finished third in the NCAA Championship, backed up her 1-under 70 on Tuesday with a second 70, despite opening with a double bogey. Making five birdies helped.

“I played solid today,” Kim said. “I wasn’t as sharp as I was (Tuesday), but I got up and down a lot and was making putts.”

Both players teed off following the suspension of play. On Monday, both Danielson and Kim had their rounds interrupted by a 65-minute rain delay. Combined, though, they played their final holes in 4 under after the rain, then followed Tuesday’s delay with more inspired play.

“I think I want it to keep raining,” joked Danielson. “I’m liking these delays.”

“Exactly!” chimed in Kim.

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UCLA’s Alison Lee

Lee made a run in the afternoon at Danielson’s low round of the tournament, reaching 4 under after playing the first 15 holes without a bogey. But a three-putt on 16 and missed 5-footer for par on 17 dropped her back into the three-way tie.

“Despite those two holes, I played really well,” Lee said. “I’m pleased with where I am. Especially in this event, it’s more about staying in the top 16. That’s when the tournament really starts.”

The top 60 players and ties made the cut to the third round of stroke play, which will determine the top 16 seeds for match play. The champion will be decided with match play at No. 8 on Friday and Saturday.

While the tournament threatens to turn into another Pac-12 Conference championship – “I’m proud to be a part of the Pac-12,” said Lee, the conference’s champion in 2014 – Arkansas star Gaby Lopez may have something to say about it. Lopez, who has had just one 3-putt in 36 holes, made the turn in 3-over 39 after four bogeys, but turned it around with four birdies on the back 9 to become just the fourth player under par after a 1-under 70.

“It was a mindset change,” Lopez said the difference between the two 9s. “I started hitting it close on the back, and with the way I was putting, I was able to go on a little run.”

Defending champion Ally McDonald again struggled to get looks at birdies, but was a master at getting up-and-down, recovering from a double bogey on the second hole to shoot 1-over 72 and remain comfortably among the top 10 entering Thursday’s final round of stroke play. McDonald is trying to become the first back-to-back North & South champion wince Beth Bauer in 1998-99.

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 & Southchampions 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. Eight of the last 11 North & South champions have earned their LPGA Tour cards.

 

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UCLA’s Alison Lee hoping to make Pinehurst history of her own

_2010Images_Lee_Alison

SCORES

PAIRINGS

BY ALEX PODLOGAR

VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Just 19 years old and on her first trip to Pinehurst, Alison Lee couldn’t help herself.

After finishing her practice round at Pinehurst No. 8 to prepare for the 112th Women’s North & South Amateur, Lee made her way over to the Pinehurst Resort Clubhouse, meandering on her way with friends to the back of the 18th green of famed Pinehurst No. 2.

She stood at the Payne Stewart statue, smiled and took the photo.

“I’m part of the younger generation,” Lee said, laughing. “It was really cool to see Payne Stewart’s statue. This place is full of history.”

Lee began her attempt to write more history at Pinehurst on Tuesday, firing a sparkling 2-under 69 to lead the Women’s North & South Amateur after the first round of stroke play to lead by one shot over fellow Pac-12 golfer, Stanford’s Lauren Kim.

Lee, ranked as the top player in college golf by Golfweek and the 2014 Pac-12 Champion as a freshman at UCLA, made just one bogey while carding three birdies on a difficult No. 8 that measured just under 6,400 yards and played to an average of 77.7.

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