By Alex Podlogar
Photos by John Patota and Melissa Schaub
Before turning in her scorecard, Mikayla Bardwell had a request.
“Can I get my phone to get a picture of it, first?” she asked Tournament Coordinator Matt Nunez.
Sure, it was an honest request. The University of Tennessee sophomore had her notes and stats written on the card, and she needed to go over it to fully assess her round before turning it in.
But if she had just wanted a photo to have as a keepsake, no one would have blamed her.
Bardwell had five birdies against just one bogey on that scorecard, turning in a tidy 4-under-par 68 to lead the 118th Women’s North & South Amateur with 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinalist Megha Ganne and Vanderbilt’s Louise Yu after the first round on Tuesday.
Bardwell’s round came on the Gil Hanse redesign of Pinehurst No. 4 – a course that obviously fit well with Bardwell’s game.
“I was really excited to come to Pinehurst, and I really love this No. 4 course,” said Bardwell, who is making her first North & South appearance. “The shape of No. 4, it’s really a course where you have to know your lines, know exactly where you’re hitting it, and I feel really confident hitting my lines right now.”
Those lines include on the greens, where Bardwell capped a brilliant day with the putter by holing a 30-footer for birdie on the 18th hole.
“I rolled my putts really well today, and my speed was just perfect,” she said. “It was a good day.”
On the Number
In her first Women’s North & South Amateur, 16-year-old Megha Ganne was hoping for a little luck on Pinehurst No. 2.
She got it – in the form of a yardage.
One hundred and six yards, to be exact.
“For some reason, on those holes, I just kept getting 106 for the yardage,” Ganne said.
Those holes were the stretch of par 4s of 11, 12 and 13 on No. 2, where on each hole she found the fairway and amazingly had the same exact number into the green.
“The first time, I hit it great,” she said. “Then I got to do it again. Thankfully, that shot kept working and that number kept showing up.”
She birdied all three on her way to the round of the day, a sparkling 4-under 68 on No. 2 to share the lead with Bardwell in the first event round for the 10th-ranked junior golfer since January.
“Let’s hope I can keep it up,” she said.
Especially if she gets 106 again.
A New Tradition
Since she was 7 years old, coming to Pinehurst has become something of a tradition for Christine Wang.
The Women’s North & South Amateur is beginning to be a part of that tradition.
The Southern Cal recruit raced to the semifinals of the 2019 North & South before falling to runner-up Doey Choi, having entered the historic tournament as something of a lark. “I really just wanted to see my friend play one more time before she goes to college,” Wang said at the time of Savannah Grewel. “She was playing the North & South, and told me about it.”
Wang had to return this year – Grewel, though, is not in the field; “I think she’s stuck in Canada,” Wang said after firing a 3-under 69 on No. 4 in Tuesday’s opening round.
“Definitely, I had to come back,” Wang said. “I signed up for the tournament as soon as it opened up.”
It was easy for Wang to come back to Pinehurst.
“I’ve been coming to Pinehurst every summer playing the U.S. Kids, so it’s like tradition to come here,” Wang said. “I love it at Pinehurst.
“All my years are blending together, but I do remember last year that it was really cool to play No. 2 all those times.”
She’ll get to do it again in Wednesday’s second round.
- Yu carded six birdies on No. 4, overcoming a double bogey on the par-4 7th to share the lead after a late tee time.
- Pinehurst resident and North Carolina recruit Nicole Adam opened with a 1-over 73 on Pinehurst No. 2, making a birdie on 18 to set herself up well for No. 4 on Wednesday…
- The field’s top-ranked player, Wake Forest’s Emilia Migliaccio, had two double bogeys on her round on No. 2, but closed in style with birdies on each of the last three, including a tight approach on 18 that drew applause from the gallery on the veranda. Migliaccio, ranked 5th in the world, finished with an even par 72…
- 2018 Girls’ North & South Junior champion Aneka Seumanutafa, who reached the Round of 16 in the Women’s North & South last year, fired a 3-under 69 on No. 2, making birdies at the last four holes…
- 2017 Women’s North & South Champion Isabella Fierro shot a 4-over 76 on No. 2…
- Defending Senior Women’s North & South Champion and 4-time U.S. Women’s Senior Amateur Champion Ellen Port shot a 3-over 75 on No. 4…
- Phenom Alexa Pano struggled to a 5-over 77 on No. 4…
The second round of medal play will continue on Wednesday with the field cut to the top 32 players for match play. All of match play will be on Pinehurst No. 2, with the championship being played at 12:L45 p.m. on Saturday.
Women’s North & South champions are among the legends of the game and include Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Peggy Kirk Bell, Hollis Stacey as well as Brandie Burton, Brittany Lang, Morgan Pressel and Yani Tseng.
As much as the North & South is a championship with a great past, it also continues to foster a great legacy. Eleven of the last 17 Amateur champions have joined the LPGA Tour, four of whom have won major championships – Pressel, Tseng and Lang, who won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open. 2011 Women’s North & South Champion Danielle Kang won her first major championship in 2017 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
The Women’s North & South has drawn the top amateur women from around the country and is the longest consecutively running women’s amateur championship in the country. Its first championship was played in 1903.
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