Anna Redding, vying to become the first North Carolina native to win North & South since 2010, will face 16-year-old Mexican phenom Isabella Fierro
By Alex Podlogar
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, North Carolina – Hours after winning the biggest match of her life, Anna Redding hit the greatest 5 iron of her life.
Now she is just 18 holes from history.
A year after being vanquished 7&6 in the quarterfinals by eventual champion Kristen Gillman, Redding avenged the defeat that has lingered in her mind every day since by beating Gillman in the quarterfinals of the 115th Women’s North & South Amateur on Thursday. She then followed that triumph later in the afternoon with a dramatic 2&1 victory over Gillman’s Alabama teammate Lakareber Abe to advance to the championship match against 16-year-old Mexican phenom Isabella Fierro.
“I’m trying to put it into words, but I’m just so overwhelmed,” Redding said, the joy mixed with relief evident in her voice. “I’m overcome with emotion.”
“I’m trying to put it into words, but I’m just so overwhelmed. I’m overcome with emotion.” -Anna Redding
Redding, a junior at Virginia who has been coached by Pinehurst Resort lead instructor Kelly Mitchum, won the 2013 Girls North & South Junior. Playing her fourth Women’s North & South Amateur, Redding reached the semifinals in 2015 before the quarterfinal loss to Gillman in 2016.
“Last year was no contest,” Redding said of the loss. “(Kristen) just wailed on me.”
This time was different. After a birdie on the 3rd hole, Redding was 2-up, only for Gillman to square the match with a par on the 9th. Though Redding led 1-up after 14, Gillman evened the match again with a birdie on 15.
But Redding hit a deft approach shot from the right native area on 18, leaving herself about 25 feet for birdie. Gillman, who missed the fairway left, could only advance her ball a few yards. A two-putt par clinched the win for Redding, who emphatically embraced her mother after the match.
“It felt like redemption,” Redding said. “Kristen’s phenomenal, but finally I was able to push her and have the kind of match I had hoped to have one day against her.”
Hours later in the semifinal, however, Redding found herself in another tense match with Abe. Redding was 1-down after 11, but following about a 45-minute rain delay, Redding drained a birdie putt on 12 to even the match. Redding had good looks again at 13 and 14 that just wouldn’t fall, but made birdie at 15 to take a 1-up lead.
She found the fairway on the par-5 16th, and from 189 yards, took 5 iron.
“That was the best 5 iron I’ve ever hit in my life,” she said. “I’ve hit some good 5 irons, but that one was great.”
The approach nestled 12 feet left of the hole and Redding made the putt, closing out Abe to advance to the championship, where Redding will try to become the first North Carolina native to win the Women’s North & South Amateur since Cydney Clanton in 2010. Like Clanton, Redding is also from Concord.
There Redding will face Fierro, one of the top-ranked junior players in the world. Fierro, who won the South American Women’s Amateur in January to qualify for the European Ladies’ Amateur Championship next week in Sweden, has been mentored by Lorena Ochoa, the first Mexican golfer to be enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Just 16, Fierro has cruised through much of match play, with wins of 6&5 and 5&4. She beat Duke’s Sandy Choi 2-up in the semifinals to advance to the final.
“The U.S. Women’s Open, the North & South, Michelle Wie – to walk where all these players in history have walked is really special,” Fierro said. “For me to be the first Mexican in the finals means so much to me.”
“The U.S. Women’s Open, the North & South, Michelle Wie – to walk where all these players in history have walked is really special. For me to be the first Mexican in the finals means so much to me.” -Isabella Fierro
It’s been a whirlwind experience in Pinehurst for Fierro. When her family landed in Raleigh last weekend, Fierro’s clubs didn’t make it. Twelve hours later they were delivered to her. There was only one problem.
“When I unpacked them, my driver was broken in two,” she said.
Scrambling to find another driver, Fierro finally settled on the same model, though the shaft was far heavier than her original.
“I thought it would a tough adjustment, but it hasn’t made too much of a difference,” Fierro said. “For a while I thought I might have to hit 3-wood for the week, but it’s working for me.
“It might be time for a change,” she quipped.
The championship match will be played at 7 a.m. on Friday on Pinehurst No. 2. Spectators are welcome to follow the match and admission is free.
The Women’s North & South Amateur is the longest consecutively running amateur championship in the United States. North & South champions are among the legends of the game: 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 15 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 recently 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.
115th Women’s North & South Amateur
July 12, 2017
Round of 32
Pinehurst No. 2
No. 1 Kristen Gillman d. No. 32 Hannah Wood, 7&6
No. 17 Lois Kaye Go d. No. 16 Jennifer Chang, 2&1
No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 25 Virginia Green, 5&4
No. 9 Stephanie Lau d. No. 24 Malia Nam, 4&3
No. 4 Beth Wu d. No. 29 Ashley Sloup, 5 & 4
No. 20 Allisen Corpuz d. No. 13 Gina Kim, 7&6
No. 28 Jessica Spicer d. No. 5 Jackie Chulya, 1up
No. 21 Lakareber Abe d. No. 12 Brenna Lervick, 2&1
No. 2 Jaclyn Lee d. No. 31 Kennedy Swann, 4 &3
No. 15 Julienne Soo d. No. 18 Ellie Nachman, 19 holes
No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 26 Marisa Messana, 6&5
No. 23 Molly Skapik d. No. 10 Olivia Cason, 5&4
No. 30 Isabella Skinner d. No. 3 Yujeong Son, 4&2
No. 19 Sandy Choi d. No. 14 Haylee Harford, 1up
No. 6 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 27 Alice Chen, 4&3
No. 22 Jillian Hollis d. No. 11 Martha Leach, 7&6
Round of 16
Pinehurst No. 2
No. 1 Kristen Gillman d. No. 17 Lois Kaye Go, 3&2
No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 9 Stephanie Lau, 2&1
No. 4 Beth Wu d. No. 20 Allien Corpuz, 2&1
No. 21 Lakareber Abe d. No. 28 Jessica Spicer 4&2
No. 15 Julienne Soo d. No. 2 Jaclyn Lee, 2&1
No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 23 Molly Skapik, 1up
No. 19 Sandy Choi d. No. 30 Isabella Skinner, 3&1
No. 6 Aneka Seumanutafa d. No. 22 Jillian Hollis, 4&3
July 13, 2017
Pinehurst No. 2
No. 1 Kristen Gillman vs. No. 8 Anna Redding, 7 a.m.
No. 4 Beth Wu vs. No. 21 Lakareber Abe, 7:08 a.m.
No. 15 Julienne Soo vs. No. 7 Isabella Fierro, 7:16 a.m.
No. 19 Sandy Choi vs. No. 6 Aneka Seumantutafa, 7:24 a.m.
Pinehurst No. 2
No. 8 Anna Redding d. No. 21 Lakareber Abe, 2&1
No. 7 Isabella Fierro d. No. 19 Sandy Choi, 2up
July 14, 2017
Pinehurst No. 2
No. 8 Anna Redding vs. No. 7 Isabella Fierro, 7 a.m.