By Alex Podlogar
Photos by John Patota and Melissa Schaub
PINEHURST, N.C. – Here’s an understatement: Golf has a long history. A looooong history.
Still, the playoff for the medalist of the 118th Women’s North & South Amateur might have been both the shortest – and definitely, the friendliest – playoff in the history of golf.
Add another couple of marks to the ledger of Pinehurst No. 2’s storied history.
Clemson’s Ivy Shepherd made a birdie on the long par-4 14th hole of No. 2, ending what the walking referee termed a “sudden victory” playoff to defeat her close friend Rachel Heck and earn medalist honors on Wednesday at the historic Women’s North & South Amateur.
“After I turned in my scorecard, I was scrolling and scrolling to see who I was playing in the playoff,” Shepherd quipped, her small Putter Boy trophy for medalist at the foot of her golf bag as she went directly to the practice range, Maniac Hill. “Then I saw, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Rachel. What the heck? It’s Rachel who’s going to make us play extra holes?”
The pair laughed as they greeted each other on the tee. “I could barely swing my driver, I was still laughing,” Heck told an acquaintance in the small gallery.
The reunion of southern star golfers – Shepherd hails from Peachtree City, GA, while Heck, a junior golf phenom who has made cuts in two LPGA Tour major championships, is from Memphis – was a brief one. In all, the playoff took just 11 minutes from tee shots to Shepherd’s made putt from about 20 feet on the left edge of the green.
“It was going to be rolling about 8 feet past, but it hit the pin, thank God,” Shepherd said. “So, thankfully, it was over quick.”
While Shepherd played well in the second round of stroke play on Pinehurst No. 4 – she shot a 3-under 69 on Gil Hanse’s redesign for a 5-under total of 139 – Heck had the round of the day.
The Stanford recruit, playing in her first North & South, made eight birdies – including three in the final four holes – to card a 6-under 66 and match the lowest round to par ever on No. 4. Two weeks ago, Matthew Sharpstene shot a 6-under 64 on No. 4, which played to a par-70 for the Men’s North & South Amateur, for the course record.
“I haven’t played a tournament in about nine months now, and I’m just happy to be back on the course,” Heck said. “I’m having fun with my dad on the bag. I’m just trying to relax and enjoy myself.”
The championship will now shift to match play, with all of the matches being played on Pinehurst No. 2. The championship is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Duke’s Megan Furtney and Stanford’s Sadie Englemann finished two strokes back of the leaders at 3-under 141. Wake Forest’s Emilia Migliaccio, the highest-ranked player in the field at 5th in the world, made the match play field after following her even par 72 on No.2 Tuesday with another round of 72 on No. 4. Duke’s Gina Kim also came in at even par 144 while last year’s medalist, Southern Cal’s Allisen Corpuz, was at 1-under 143.
There was a 5-players-for-4-spots playoff for the final seeds. Amanda Sambach, who won the Girls Junior North & South just last week, made a bogey on the first playoff hole to fall out of contention.
Other notable names also missed the cut, including 2017 Women’s North & South Champion Isabella Fierro (76-74-150) and rising star Alexa Pano (77-76-153).
Mississippi State’s Abbey Daniel had perhaps the hardest luck of all on Wednesday. After an 80 on No. 2 on Tuesday, Daniel fought back with a 4-under 68 on No. 4. Alas, it wasn’t enough; Daniel finished one shot out of the playoff for the final seeds.
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 vs. No. 32 Annika Borrelli, 7 a.m.
No. 16 Gina Kim vs. No. 17 Allysha Mae Mateo, 7:08 a.m.
No. 8 Christine Wang vs. No. 25 Megan Schofill, 7:16 a.m.
No. 9 Mikayla Bardwell vs. No. 24 Blair Stockett, 7:24 a.m.
No. 4 Megan Furtney vs. No. 29 Lauren Beaudreau, 7:32 a.m.
No. 13 Aneka Seumanutafa vs. No. 20 Madison Moose, 7:40 a.m.
No. 5 Therese Warner vs. No. 28 Marissa Wenzler, 7:48 a.m.
No. 12 Allisen Corpuz vs. No. 21 Louise Yu, 7:56 a.m.
No. 2 Rachel Heck vs. No. 31 Casey Weidenfeld, 8:04 a.m.
No. 15 Michaela Morard vs. No. 18 Emily Mahar, 8:12 a.m.
No. 7 Megha Ganne vs. No. 26 Rebecca DiNunzio, 8:20 a.m.
No. 10 Rachel Kuehn vs. No. 23 Bentley Cotton, 8:28 a.m.
No. 3 Sadie Englemann vs. No. 30 Lauren Hartlage, 8:36 a.m.
No. 14 Emilia Migliaccio vs. No. 19 Lei Ye, 8:44 a.m.
No. 6 Haylin Harris vs. No. 27 Alice Hodge, 8:52 a.m.
No. 11 Pilar Echeverria vs. No. Amari Avery, 9 a.m.
Round of 16
Friday, July 17
Friday, July 17
Saturday, July 18
Saturday, July 18
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