North & South moves on to match play after eventful second round
By Alex Podlogar
It’s falling apart.
Drives are wayward. Iron shots are thinned. Putts surely won’t drop, not even those second, shorter ones.
Oh, and it’s in a match. Not for money. But for prestige. For memory. It’s your biggest stage.
You fall 2-down through nine holes after three-putting. Three-down through 10. Four-down through 11. It’s over. It’s just over, isn’t it?
No, it’s golf.
Just ask Anna Morgan.
In her Women’s North & South Amateur championship match a year ago against Duke star Gina Kim, Morgan didn’t suffer golf’s worst maladies. Aside from a three-putt on the par-3 9th, she played well. Really well, in fact. Kim just made birdie putts where Morgan, the eventual runner-up, didn’t.
But Morgan didn’t fold, either. She birdied 13, 15 and 16, playing her last five holes in 3 under. It just wasn’t enough.
Or was it?
Since that memorable North & South run, the Furman senior has, in her words, enjoyed the best golf of her young career. She has won twice, collected a staggering nine top-10s, qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles and recently placed ninth in the NCAA Championship.
“Looking back, it does seem (making the final match was a turning point),” Morgan said. “My runner-up finish was probably my biggest finish in a big tournament. That kind of set me up to play well. It’s been building, and seems like it’s been a steady ascent, but, well, once again…it’s golf. You never know.”
A year later, she’s returned for the 120th Women’s North & South Amateur. And she’s back fighting. After an opening-round 75 on No. 2 on Tuesday, Morgan made five birdies on her way to a 4-under-par 68 on No. 4 on Wednesday to comfortably make the cut and return to match play.
“Last night, we were looking at the scores and trying to get a good idea,” Morgan said. “We said even par would either be the number or get into a playoff. I knew I needed to shoot 3 under or better, so yes, I guess there was a little bit of pressure. But that pressure worked because I was able to shoot a low number.”
On the par-5 17th, with the cut line still in doubt, Morgan found herself 70 yards from the pin and even par for the championship. She nearly holed her pitch, leaving herself 6 inches for birdie. She was back.
“I have a lot of good memories from last year – for the most part,” she said. “I mean, it’s not feeling a sting – but, well, kind of it is – from coming up a little bit short last year. For the most part, it’s just really exciting to be back, but also not trying to put too much pressure on myself because even though I finished so well last year, it’s golf, and anything can happen.”
Morgan admits her 3-putt on the 9th a year ago rattled her for the next few holes, allowing Kim’s advantage to grow. But not unlike her performance Wednesday after a tough round on No. 2, she did not let up. And now, she’s still alive.
“This is one of my favorite tournaments to play in every year,” Morgan said. “I just love coming back to Pinehurst. And once you get into match play, anything can happen.”
Like, you know, golf.
Take Hannah Levi, for example. Sometimes you don’t even see the ball go into the hole.
On her way to the best round of the day – a 6-under 66 on No. 4 – and a rather comfortable run to medalist honors, the Mississippi State senior found herself 140 yards away on the par-4 8th hole.
“It was just a normal shot – talk about it, what’s the yardage, what’s the wind, playing uphill, what are we going to hit?” Levi said.
Seven iron was the answer. A smooth 7. Nothing too hard.
“Hit it, it was drawing a little bit and I just knew I hit a good shot,” Levi said. “I didn’t know it went in. We heard, ‘It went it! It went in!’ And my caddie and I were like, ‘Cool! High-five!’”
Her eagle 2 made her 4 under through 8 holes, and despite a bogey on the par-5 13th, Levi rallied with birdies on 14, 15 and 16 to enter Thursday’s Round of 32 match play as the championship’s top seed.
“Just go play the game,” Levi said of her match play approach. “Just going out there, playing the course, sticking to the gameplan. Obviously, you have to play your competitor that you’re matched against. It’s nothing crazy new – it’s still the same golf course, different pins, different conditions out there on No. 2. But we’ll take the day the same way we always have.”
Finally, there was Colombian teenager Maria Jose Marin, who needed a birdie on 15 of No. 2 after a front-nine 41 just to hold onto a spot in an 11-for-1 playoff for the 32nd and final seed. Playing in the second group – a sixsome – Marin stuffed her approach on the first hole of No. 2 to 4 feet, making the birdie to stay alive. Clemson’s Melena Barrientos had made a 35-footer in the first group to advance in the playoff.
After the parred the second playoff hole – the 17th of No. 2 – Marin rolled in a birdie from 18 feet to finally stave off Barrientos.
“I’ve never been a part of something like that,” Marin, 15, said. “What an experience.”
Marin enjoyed a solid day on No. 4 in her opening round, shooting a 2-under 70. But she stumbled quickly on No. 2, making a triple-bogey 8 on the 5th hole and another triple bogey on the par-4 7th.
“They don’t matter right now,” Marin said, laughing. “It was a hard day. Something happened right there. I don’t know what happened.”
Well, as Morgan might have said, that’s golf.
A year ago, Gina Kim took the No. 32 seed all the way to the Putter Boy trophy.
“Here I am,” Marin said.
120th Women’s North & South Amateur
July 10-16, 2022
Pinehurst No. 2
Round of 32 Match Play
July 14, 2022
No. 32 Maria Jose Marin vs. No. 1 Hannah Levi 7:00 a.m.
No. 17 Kary Hollenbaugh vs. No. 16 Emilia Migliaccio 7:08 a.m.
No. 8 Isabella Fierro vs. No. 25 Monet Chun 7:16 a.m.
No. 9 Justice Bosio vs. No. 24 Sarah-Eve Rheaume 7:24 a.m.
No. 29 Rachel Kuehn vs. No. 4 Xin Kou 7:32 a.m.
No. 20 Ting Hsuan Huang vs. No. 13 Bailey Davis 7:40 a.m.
No. 28 Michaela Morard vs. No. 5 Kayla Smith 7:48 a.m.
No. 21 Chloe Schiavone vs. No. 12 Anna Morgan 7:56 a.m.
No. 31 Caroline Craig vs. No. 2 Emma Schimpf 8:04 a.m.
No. 15 Melanie Green vs. No. 18 Jackie Lucena 8:12 a.m.
No. 26 Amber Park vs. No. 7 Megan Schofill 8:20 a.m.
No. 10 Sadie Englemann vs. No. 23 Malia Nam 8:28 a.m.
No. 30 Michelle Liu vs. No. 3 Zoe Antoinette Campos 8:36 a.m.
No. 19 Amanda Sambach vs. No. 14 Zoe Slaughter 8:44 a.m.
No. 27 Jennifer Cleary vs. No. 6 Kirsten Rudgeley 8:52 a.m.
No. 22 Sophie Linder vs. No. 11 Casey Weidenfeld 9:00 a.m.
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