By Alex Podlogar
Photos by John Patota and Melissa Schaub
PINEHURST, N.C. – Despite his considerable success over the last 11 months, Pinehurst caddie Keith Silva was considering hanging up his bags.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
What is true, though, is that Silva knows when he’s got a player.
And he’s got another one in the 118th Women’s North & South Amateur.
The veteran caddie going on his third decade at Pinehurst finds himself on another run at the top levels of amateur golf, this time on the bag for rising Wake Forest star Rachel Kuehn, of Asheville, who advanced to the Round of 16 following her 2-up victory over Bentley Cotton on Pinehurst No. 2 on Thursday.
Wake Forest’s Rachel Kuehn (Photo by John Patota)
“I got extremely lucky this week,” Kuehn said. “Everybody’s telling me I’ve got the best caddie. I’ve only known Keith for four days, and already I trust him with everything. Just give me the number and the line, and I’ll try to do that. If I miss, it’s my fault, not his.”
That – for everyone who knows Silva – is music to the Liverpool looper’s ears.
Silva, 70, gained notoriety as William Holcomb V’s caddie during Holcomb’s stunning feel-good run to the U.S. Amateur semifinals in August last year at Pinehurst. The pair hooked up again at the North & South Amateur a couple of weeks ago, advancing all the way to the championship match before falling to Ty Strafaci.
Now, here Silva is again with the 10th-seeded Kuehn.
“Really, they’re all just making me look good,” Silva quipped.
He’s got a point. Kuehn’s talent and pedigree, certainly, go a long way. She was one of the nation’s top junior golfers, and even in a shortened freshman season at Wake Forest, Kuehn has already won, taking the ANNIKA Intercollegiate while finishing in the top 20 in all five of her appearances.
Kuehn, too, is the daughter of Wake Forest Hall-of-Famer Brenda Corrie Kuehn, an amateur star in her own right. She played on two U.S. Curtis Cup teams, competed in multiple North & Souths, winning medalist honors and finishing as a runner-up, while also appearing in 16 U.S. Women’s Amateurs and in nine U.S. Women’s Opens – most famously in 2001 at Pine Needles while eight months pregnant with Rachel.
“I like to say I’ve already played in a U.S. Open,” Rachel quips, drawing comedic praise from Silva. “I was there. I came along a week after.”
So, perhaps Silva is just as lucky as Rachel thinks she is.
Pinehurst caddie Keith Silva and Rachel Kuehn (Photo by Melissa Schaub)
“I knew what kind of player I had just from the two practice rounds on No. 2 and No. 4,” Silva said of meeting Kuehn earlier this week. “A few members came up to me and asked if I had a good player. I told them, ‘If we don’t make it to match play, I’m going to pack it up.’”
Kuehn will now face No. 26 seed Becca DiNunzio, who knocked off junior golf star Megha Ganne 3&2 Thursday, in the Round of 16 on Friday morning. Quarterfinal matches will be played in the afternoon, with the semifinals and championship matches taking place on Saturday.
“Let’s play 36 tomorrow, OK, kid?” Silva asked his player as the pair walked off the 18th green following Kuehn’s birdie to end the match.
Sounds like the old caddie is planning to hang around a while, after all.
As usual, it was day of big swings as the championship shifted to match play, where several notable players advanced and a few higher seeds had their weeks cut short:
- 2020 medalist and top seed Ivy Shepherd, of Clemson, keep her momentum going by rallying from 2 holes down at the turn to winning 2&1 over Annika Borrelli. That sets up a heavyweight Round of 16 match with…
- Duke’s Gina Kim, who made birdies at 9 and 12 to take control of her match in a 3&2 win over Allysha Mae Mateo…
- Emilia Migliaccio, a Wake Forest teammate of Kuehn’s and the top-ranked player in the field at No. 5 in the world, never trailed in beating reigning U.S. Girls Junior Champion Lei Ye…
Aneka Seumanutafa (Photo by Melissa Schaub)
- 2017 Girls Junior North & South Champion Aneka Seumanutafa, of Ohio State, curled in a long, slick downhill putt for birdie on 18 to edge Madison Moosa 1up. Seumanutafa advances to the Round of 16 for the second straight year and is bidding to become the first Junior champion to win the Women’s North & South as well since May Wood did it in 2001-02…
- 2019 North & South medalist Allisen Corpuz, of Southern Cal, edged Louise Yu 1up…
- No. 2-seeded Rachel Heck made a 40-foot birdie putt on 13 on her way to a 2&1 win over Casey Weidenfield…
- The Nos. 3, 4 and 5 seeds all lost their Round of 32 matches: No. 30 Lauren Hartlage defeated No. 3 Sadie Englemann 3&1; No. 29 Lauren Beaudreau beat No. 4 Megan Furtney 3&2; and No. 28 Marissa Wenzler downed No. 5 Therese Warner 6&5.
Becca DiNunzio (Photo by Melissa Schaub)
The 2020 Champion and Runner-up of the Women’s North & South will earn automatic bids into the U.S. Women’s Amateur, which will be played Aug. 3-9 at Woodmont Country Club in Maryland.
Three players from the Round of 32 who have not already qualified for the U.S. Amateur advanced to the Round of 16:
No. 26 seed DiNunzio, who beat 2019 U.S. Amateur semifinalist Ganne; Wenzler, who had little trouble in her match, finishing it on the 13th hole; and No. 24 seed Blair Stockett, who took out first-round co-leader Mikayla Bardwell 2&1.
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 vs. No. 16 Gina Kim, 7 a.m.
No. 25 Megan Schofill vs. No. 24 Blair Stockett, 7:08 a.m.
No. 29 Lauren Beaudreau vs. No. 13 Aneka Seumanutafa, 7:16 a.m.
No. 28 Marissa Wenzler vs. No. 12 Allisen Corpuz, 7:24 a.m.
No. 2 Rachel Heck vs. No. 18 Emily Mahar, 7:32 a.m.
No. 26 Rebecca DiNunzio vs. No. 10 Rachel Kuehn, 7:40 a.m.
No. 30 Lauren Hartlage vs. No. 14 Emilia Migliaccio, 7:48 a.m.
No. 6 Haylin Harris vs. No. 11 Pilar Echeverria, 7:56 a.m.
Friday, July 17
Saturday, July 18
Saturday, July 18