By Stan Cole
Photos by John Patota and Melissa Schaub
PINEHURST, N.C. – It’s only fitting that an extra hole was required Saturday afternoon to decide the 118th Women’s North & South Amateur at Pinehurst No. 2.
Both finalists Rachel Kuehn and Allisen Corpuz needed playoffs to reach Saturday afternoon’s final. Kuehn went 20 holes in her quarterfinal victory Friday afternoon while Corpuz had to play 21 before outlasting Ivy Shepherd in Saturday morning’s semifinal.
Toss in an 80-minute rain delay and Saturday’s play extended nearly 11 hours from the time Corpuz first teed off at 7:00 a.m.
A par on the first playoff hole – the par-4 1st – gave Kuehn the North & South title and Putter Boy trophy 25 years after her mother, former Wake Forest Hall of Famer Brenda Corrie Kuehn, finished just short of the championship in the 1995 event.
“I joke with my mom because she finished (well here), and has been holding that over my head,” said Kuehn with a laugh. “I’m glad I could top her a little bit, but to add my name to the list of winners here is an unbelievable feeling.”
Wake Forest’s Rachel Kuehn
While Kuehn had to play five fewer holes to reach the final, the tight competition combined with North Carolina Sandhills summer time weather extended the day.
“The Pinehurst heat and more than 36 holes definitely makes it a game of endurance, especially when you’re playing two matches in a day,” said Kuehn, who earned All-America honors as a freshman at Wake Forest where she won the prestigious ANNIKA Invitational last September in her first collegiate start.
Twice before Saturday’s weather delay, Kuehn took two-hole leads only to see Corpuz pull square after 11. After her 21-hole outing in the morning, Corpuz bogeyed the opening two holes of the final round before making five-straight pars – the third of which leveled the match through five.
Kuehn went back in front with a par on the long par-4 eighth; then the Asheville native rolled in a 10-footer on the par-3 ninth for the first birdie by either player of the afternoon.
However, the Wake Forest sophomore left her next two tee shots in the right native area and lost the lead as Corpuz made two straight pars. On the par-4 12th, Kuehn again left her drive in the right side natural area, but hit the green with her second shot to match Corpuz’ par.
As the golfers approached the 13th tee just after 3 p.m., play was halted as thunderstorms moved through the Sandhills region.
Neither Kuehn nor Corpuz appeared to be affected by the delay as both hit the fairway, then took aim at the elevated green with their second shots on the par-4 13th. However, Corpuz missed a 3-footer for par to drop the hole.
Southern Cal’s Allisen Corpuz
The Southern Cal senior rallied and closed the round with five straight pars, including a long two-putt on 17. Kuehn just missed her par putt on the hole and the competitors stepped to the 18th tee all square. Each hit fairway, green and two-putted to send the match to the playoff.
Corpuz’ drive on her 40th hole of the day found the left native area and her footing was unsure as the native of Kapolei, Hawaii, set up for her second shot. Corpuz’ hybrid bounced off the back of the green; then her chip was short and rolled off the slope.
Kuehn then two-putted from the front fringe to secure the title.
The delay might have come at an opportune time for Kuehn.
“I actually wasn’t hitting the ball great going into the rain delay, so it gave me a chance to regroup and it kind of turned an 18-hole final match into a six-hole final match.”
Corpuz, the 2019 North & South medalist who advanced to the quarterfinals of the event in the last two years, noted that the delay was “a little annoying to take a break, but it happens and you have to accept it and keep playing.”
Both Kuehn and Corpuz earned automatic exemptions to the U.S. Women’s Amateur with their performances as champion and runner-up of the North & South Amateur.
Both Corpuz and Kuehn entered the Women’s North & South Amateur as qualifiers for the U.S. Women’s Amateur, which will be played Aug. 3-9 at Woodmont Country Club in Maryland.
“I’m so proud of her play. She just never quits. She has a fire in her belly that never ends and you can never count her out because she’ll fight to the last drop,” said Brenda Corrie Kuehn, who competed in 16 U.S. Amateurs and nine U.S. Opens.
Rachel Kuehn and veteran Pinehurst caddie Keith Silva
Even with her vast golfing experience, Brenda allowed Rachel and her veteran Pinehurst caddie Keith Silva handle matters on the course. Silva was on the bag at Pinehurst last year for William Holcomb V’s run to the U.S. Amateur semifinal and two weeks ago as Holcomb finished as runner-up in the North & South.
“We talked about things that were not golf. This was about (Rachel) and her caddie,” said Brenda. “The two of them made a great team.”
Corpuz advanced to the final after making a 12-foot birdie putt on the 21st hole Saturday morning. After she and Ivy Shepherd both saved par from the native area on the first two playoff holes, Corpuz hit a wedge from 105 yards to 12 feet to set up the deciding birdie on the short par-4 third hole.
Shepherd, the North & South medalist, made the turn Saturday morning 1-up, but the Corpuz tied the match three times on the back nine – the last with short par putt on the par-three 17th.
“I wasn’t hitting the ball really well today; I was just trying to keep it in play and grind it out,” said Shepherd, a sophomore at Clemson. “I just missed a few important putts coming down the road. When it went to extra holes, I missed three really good birdie looks back-to-back-to-back.”
For her second straight match, Kuehn rallied to advance to the North & South final. On Friday, she trailed Rachel Heck in her quarterfinal by two with four holes to play before squaring the match on the 18th and winning on the 20th hole. On Saturday morning, Kuehn fell behind by two through five holes to Michigan State’s Haylin Harris before the Wake Forest sophomore won three of the next five.
Kuehn birdied the par-5 eighth and par-3 ninth to take the lead, then won the 12th and 14th to build a three-hole lead with three to play. Harris conceded after Kuehn knocked her approach on the par-four 16th tight.
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.
118th Women’s North & South Amateur
July 14-18, 2020
Pinehurst No. 2
Round of 32
Thursday, July 16
No. 1 Ivy Shepherd d. No. 32 Annika Borrelli, 2&1
No. 16 Gina Kim d. No. 17 Allysha Mae Mateo, 3&2
No. 25 Megan Schofill d. No. 8 Christine Wang, 1up
No. 24 Blair Stockett d. No. 9 Mikayla Bardwell, 2&1
No. 29 Lauren Beaudreau d. No. 4 Megan Furtney, 3&2
No. 13 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 20 Madison Moose, 1up
No. 28 Marissa Wenzler d. No. 5 Therese Warner, 6&5
No. 12 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 21 Louise Yu, 1up
No. 2 Rachel Heck d. No. 31 Casey Weidenfeld, 2&1
No. 18 Emily Mahar d. No. 15 Michaela Morard, 3&2
No. 26 Rebecca DiNunzio d. No. 7 Megha Ganne, 2up
No. 10 Rachel Kuehn d. No. 23 Bentley Cotton, 2up
No. 30 Lauren Hartlage d. No. 3 Sadie Englemann, 3&1
No. 14 Emilia Migliaccio d. No. 19 Lei Ye, 3&2
No. 6 Haylin Harris d. No. 27 Alice Hodge, 4&2
No. 11 Pilar Echeverria d. No. Amari Avery, 4&3
Round of 16
Friday, July 17
No. 1 Ivy Shepherd d. No. 16 Gina Kim, 1up
No. 25 Megan Schofill d. No. 24 Blair Stockett, 19 Holes
No. 29 Lauren Beaudreau d. No. 13 Aneka Seumanutafa, 8&6
No. 12 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 28 Marissa Wenzler, 5&4
No. 2 Rachel Heck d. No. 18 Emily Mahar, 1up
No. 10 Rachel Kuehn d. No. 26 Rebecca DiNunzio, 4&3
No. 14 Emilia Migliaccio d. No. 30 Lauren Hartlage, 3&1
No. 6 Haylin Harris d. No. 11 Pilar Echeverria, 3&2
Friday, July 17
No. 1 Ivy Shepherd d. No. 25 Megan Schofill, 4&3
No. 12 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 29 Lauren Beaudreau, 1up
No. 10 Rachel Kuehn d. No. 2 Rachel Heck, 20 Holes
No. 6 Haylin Harris d. No. 14 Emilia Migliaccio, 4&3
Saturday, July 18
No. 12 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 1 Ivy Shepherd, 21 holes
No. 10 Rachel Kuehn d. No. 6 Haylin Harris, 3&2
Saturday, July 18
No. 10 Rachel Kuehn d. No. 12 Allisen Corpuz, 19 holes