By Alex Podlogar
The whispers get louder as the match gets later.
You should go for this.
A lot can run through your head on Pinehurst No. 2, especially under pressure. Very little of it is any good.
Go right at the pin. It’ll work out.
Make the safe play. Isn’t that what they always say?
We could win the match right here.
Hit to middle of the green. Putt to corners. That’s the secret.
Take the 3 hybrid.
Maybe it should be the 4 hybrid instead. Middle of the green. Two putts for birdie.
Take the 3.
The 4’s the smarter play.
We still have two holes left after this one.
“I only used it one other time,” Duke star Gina Kim said of her 3 hybrid – because, yes, that was the one she pulled. “Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure how it was going to end up, but some reason – maybe it’s that player’s sixth sense, that player’s instinct that you just kind of feel something coming. I don’t know. It was just meant to be, I think. I just felt so good about it, even though I barely pulled out that club.”
“’Boy, oh boy,’ I thought to myself. ‘There’s got to be some good karma going on around here or else we’re not getting through,’” Kim added. “I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to 18.”
“I knew I had to catch an opportunity when I saw one.”
“I hit my best shot of the tournament.”
In the Round of 32 at the 119th Women’s North & South Amateur – at her FIFTH Women’s North & South Amateur – Kim was 2 down with four to play. A par on 15 cut top-seeded Abbey Daniel’s lead in half as they headed to the par-5 16th, and it was on. Kim piped her drive smack in the middle of the fairway.
205 away. Pin’s back-center.
“I was thinking maybe 4 hybrid – just put it on the green,” Kim said. “A birdie on that hole is not bad at all. The green is big, it’s not bad to at least just get it on the dance floor, and even if I have a long putt, that’s fine, a 2-putt is a birdie anyway. But I thought, you know what, I won the last hole. Let’s just keep the momentum going, be aggressive and just go for it. What do you have to lose?”
Kim took the 3. And after hitting it to 6 feet, she made 3 on 16.
“That thing was just sailing right at the hole,” she said.
Eagle. The match was tied.
“To me, that’s when the match was really decided because the momentum was in my hands,” Kim said. “From there on, it was just a matter of sticking to the game plan and just waiting for the other to open the door slightly more so I could, you know, get my foot in there and take the match.”
Kim wasn’t wrong. Pars at 17 and 18, by that point, were more than enough. She took the lead in the match after another 3 on 17, then closed it out on 18 for a 2-up victory in thrilling fashion.
“I think (momentum is) the most crucial thing in match play,” Kim said. “I won two holes in a row to suddenly get the match tied. I think that’s where everything changed, and I think she knew it, too.”
If that wasn’t painfully clear – or triumphantly clear, depending on what side of it you were on – then it was by the end of the Round of 32 on Thursday. Most of the matches were fairly lopsided, and once leads were built, few were able to rally like Kim.
Still, it was a noteworthy day. Ivy Shepherd, the North & South medalist in 2020 who made a run to the semifinals, knocked off fifth-seeded Aneka Seumanutafa, one of the three past Girls’ North & South Junior champions in the Round of 32, 7&6. Allisen Corpuz, ranked 12th in the world and the 2019 medalist here, cruised by Ashley Gilliam, 5&4.
That sets up a monster Round of 16 match between Shepherd and Corpuz, who memorably played to 21 holes in the semifinals a year ago. Corpuz prevailed on that day, finishing the championship as the runner-up.
Isabella Fierro, the 2017 Women’s North & South Champion, fell behind Kelly Sim early and could never recover, dropping her match 4&2. Amanda Sambach, seeded 31st and the 2020 Girls’ North & South Junior Champion, dispatched this year’s Junior winner, second-seeded Brooke Rivers, of Canada, 4&3. Ho Yu An, ranked seventh in the world, got past Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, 3&2.
The top seven seeds all lost, leaving No. 8 Ashley Lau as the top-seeded player remaining. On the day, just three of the 16 matches even reached No. 2’s famed 18th hole. Of course, one of them was Kim’s.
The Duke junior came into the match having earned the 32nd and final seed after emerging from a 10-players-for-eight spots playoff on Wednesday. But Kim is no typical last seed. She’s played in three of the last four U.S. Women’s Opens and was the Open’s low amateur after finishing 12th at the Country Club of Charleston. In 2019, she led Duke to the NCAA Championship.
So, what’s left?
A deep run in Pinehurst sure would be nice. For all of Kim’s triumphs, she’s doesn’t have much for memories in the North & South. She first came to Pinehurst for the U.S. Kids World Golf Championship when she was 11. Ten years later, she’s in her fifth North & South, still seeking something past the Round of 16.
“I didn’t realize that until I was playing a practice round and I was talking to a friend, and I was like ‘Holy cow, I’ve been here, like, five years!’” she said. “But this place is special, and it’s special to play a place like No. 2. And as frustrating as that golf course is, it has that certain charm that just makes you want to come back every year and challenge yourself once again. This is one of the tournaments that I just can’t take out of my schedule. I want to come here every year to have another go at it.”
Which may further explain her decision – and the shot – on 16.
“All gas, no brakes.”
That was said out loud.
119th Women’s North & South Amateur
July 13-17, 2021
Pinehurst No. 2
Round of 32 Match Play
July 15, 2021
No. 32 Gina Kim, 7 d. No. 1 Abbey Daniel, 2&1
No. 17 Addison Baggarly d. No. 16 Grace Curran, 4&3
No. 8 Ashley Lau d. No. 25 Gurleen Kaur, 4&3
No. 9 Jessica Spicer d. No. 24 Teresa Toscano Borrero, 4&3
No. 29 Blair Stockett d. No. 4 Hsin-Yu Lu, 4&3
No. 20 Mychael O’Berry d. No. 13 Savannah Grewal, 3&2
No. 28 Ivy Shepherd d. No. 5 Aneka Seumanutafa, 7&6
No. 21 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 12 Ashley Gilliam, 5&4
No. 31 Amanda Sambach d. No. 2 Brooke Rivers, 4&3
No. 15 Anna Morgan d. No. 18 Maria Bohorquez, 4&2
No. 26 Rina Tatematsu d. No. 7 Catherine Park, 1up
No. 10 Ho Yu An d. No. 23 Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, 3&2
No. 30 Megan Schofill d. No. 3 Sophie Zhang-Murphy, 19 Holes
No. 19 Casey Weidenfield d. No. 14 Jenny Bae, 2&1
No. 27 Kelly Sim d. No. 6 Isabella Fierro, 4&2
No. 22 Brigitte Thibault d. No. 11 Katherine Muzi, 2&1
Round of 16
July 16, 2021
No. 32 Gina Kim vs. No. 17 Addison Baggarly, 7 a.m.
No. 8 Ashley Lau vs. No. 9 Jessica Spicer, 7:08 a.m.
No. 29 Blair Stockett vs. No. 20 Mychael O’Berry, 3&2, 7:16 a.m.
No. 28 Ivy Shepherd vs. No. 21 Allisen Corpuz, 7:24 a.m.
No. 31 Amanda Sambach vs. No. 15 Anna Morgan, 7:32 a.m.
No. 26 Rina Tatematsu vs. No. 10 Ho Yu An, 7:40 a.m.
No. 30 Megan Schofill vs. No. 19 Casey Weidenfield, 7:48 a.m.
No. 27 Kelly Sim vs. No. 22 Brigitte Thibault, 7:56 a.m.
July 16, 2021
July 17, 2021
July 17, 2021
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