By Alex Podlogar
Where do you even start?
Our typical exercise to preview the North & South season is to list a few notable names to consider as the event gets under way. In the past, we’ve even called them the “contenders,” knowing full well that the eventual champion doesn’t always appear in our preview list. That’s golf, as they say.
But when you have a field as deep as the Women’s North & South Amateur field is every year, every player feels like a contender. With 118 years of history – July 13-17, 2021, will be the 119th playing of the Women’s North & South – this championship has produced winners who were among the early giants of the women’s game, including some of the original founders of the LPGA Tour.
But even with that storied history, this championship is set apart for what it has produced in recent years. A staggering 12 of the last 18 champions have gone on to earn a form of LPGA Tour status. Four of them – Brittany Lang (2003), Morgan Pressel (2004), Yani Tseng (2005) and Danielle Kang (2011) – have won major championships. Austin Ernst (2012) and Ally Ewing (2013) have each won multiple times already on Tour. Those past champions combined account for eight majors, 30 total victories, 16 appearances in the Solheim Cup and more than $42.8 million in career earnings.
So, yeah, here’s the list of tee times. There is your list of contenders.
That said, let’s highlight a few familiar names. So, finally, after all of that buildup, where should we start?
At the top.
Two past champions are even in the field this week. And six of the quarterfinalists from the 2020 Women’s North & South return to try make another run at their own coveted Putter Boy trophy again this summer.
Rachel Kuehn – The 2020 Champion returns after a spirited run to the championship a year ago with a familiar face on her bag. Kuehn’s star has only shone greater since her win in Pinehurst. Her sophomore year at Wake Forest, she led the team in scoring average, won the Palmetto Intercollegiate, was the medalist at the ACC Championship and had two other top-five finishes.
Isabella Fierro – It’s been four years since Fierro won the North & South in 2017, where at 16 she became the first Mexican-born player to prevail. Fierro, who got an early look at Pinehurst Nos. 2 and 4 two weeks ago as Abel Gallegos’ caddie during the men’s North & South, has starred at Oklahoma State, leading the team to a runner-up finish in the NCAA Championship this year. Fierro ended her sophomore year this season with the best career stroke average in program history, and though she did not have a win this season, finished in the top 10 in seven of her 10 tournament appearances.
Allisen Corpuz – Something about Pinehurst and Corpuz go together. The 2020 Championship’s Runner-Up was the medalist and reached the quarterfinals a year before that. Of course, as the 12th-ranked amateur in the world, Corpuz’s game can play anywhere. A fifth-year senior at Southern Cal, Corpuz opened this season with three top-3 finishes, winning two of them, and ran the streak to six straight finishes of fourth or better. She played the Augusta National Women’s Amateur again in 2021, again making the cut.
Ho Yu An – The top-ranked player in the field, An is just 17 but already has two professional wins to her credit. Ranked seventh in the world – she’s been as high as fourth – An is a native of Chinese Taipei and returned from a pandemic hiatus with two wins on the LPGA of Taiwan Tour in 2020, including a six-stroke win at the GRIN Cup Charity Open.
Gina Kim – A star at Duke, Kim has already played in three U.S. Women’s Opens and led the Blue Devils to the 2019 National Championship and the 2021 ACC Championship. Ranked 23rd in the world and a First Team All-American, Kim was recently 4-0 in match play at the Arnold Palmer Cup, helping Team USA to a win over the Internationals. Kim was the medalist at the ACC Championship.
Gurleen Kaur – A longtime standout and two-time All-American at Baylor, Kaur has won twice since 2020 and made the cut recently at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open.
Lauren Beaudreau – The top player at Notre Dame, Beaudreau has a ton of history at Pinehurst, winning the Girls’ North & South Junior in 2016 and making a run to the quarterfinals a year ago.
Aneka Seumanutafa – No stranger to the North & South, Seumanutafa won the Girls’ North & South Junior in 2017 and immediately went on to star at Ohio State. She’s won four times in the last two years, including prevailing at the Jennie K Wilson Invitational in Hawaii in May. Seumanutafa has reached match play at the Women’s North & South in each of the last two years.
Nicole Adam – Adam played her first season at North Carolina this year after signing as the top-ranked junior in the state. From Pinehurst, Adam has had success here in the past, advancing to match play in the Women’s North & South and won at the 2018 U.S. Kids World Golf Championships.
Amanda Sambach – The 2020 Girls’ North & South Junior Champion, Sambach is one of the top juniors in golf, has won five times in the last two years and recently won the Rolex Junior Golf Championship in June.
There are many, many more notables in the field. Ivy Shepherd, the medalist in 2020, returns to the field after making a run to the semifinals…Haylin Harris, another semifinalist in 2020, also returns, making that all four semifinalists who are back…Katherine Schuster, one of the most decorated prep players in North Carolina history – she won four straight 1A/2A state championships – is the 2019 Girls’ North & South Junior Champion.
The 119th Women’s North & South Amateur will feature two rounds of stroke play on Tuesday and Wednesday on Pinehurst Nos. 2 and 4. The field will be cut to the top 32 players and seeded for match play, with the Round of 32 on Thursday, the Round of 16 and quarterfinals on Friday and the semifinals and championship match on Saturday. All match play matches will be on No. 2.
Spectators are welcome and there is no charge for attendance.
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