Women’s Amateur Up For Grabs: 4 New Faces In Semifinals
Scarborough, N.Y. – The U.S. Women’s Amateur will see four new semifinalists when play resumes Friday morning at the 6,190-yard, par-71 Sleepy Hollow Country Club.
Twenty-one-year-old Brandi Jackson of Belton, S.C.; Becky Lucidi, 21, of Poway, Calif.; Maru Martinez, 18, of Venezuela; and 22-year-old Lindsay Wright of Australia all advanced Thursday evening. All will be making their first appearance in the semifinals of the Women’s Amateur.
In Friday’s matches, Lucidi and Wright will square off at 10 a.m., and then Jackson and Martinez will go off at 10:15 a.m. The first match was originally scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., but with the forecast calling for thunderstorms USGA officials bumped up the times.
In the first quarterfinal match, Lucidi outlasted USA Curtis Cup team member Emily Bastel, 21, of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, 3 and 1. Similar to Lucidi’s morning match against Elizabeth Janangelo, 18, of West Hartford, Conn., in which a 4-up lead was whittled down to 1 up by the 17th hole, Lucidi nearly squandered another comfortable advantage.
Against Bastel, a semifinalist from last year, Lucidi jumped out to a 4-up lead after the first four holes, pushed it 5 up by No. 8, then could do no right. When the two walked to the 15th tee box, Bastel was only 1 down.
“Right around the middle of the turn both of my opponents started playing well,” said Lucidi. “But I was fortunate enough so that I had a strong enough lead in both matches to kind of finish it out and win."
Lucidi was a quarterfinalist in the 2000 Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. Trying to draw a comparison, she favored the Women’s Amateur.
“These are the best amateurs in the world. You saw how many countries are represented here. It’s the best of the best here, so it makes it that much more difficult,” said Lucidi.
On No. 15, a 511-yard par 5 that has a steep decline leading into the green, Lucidi’s length off the tee arguably saved the match. Averaging around 250 off the tee, Lucidi got on the green in two and lipped a 45 putt for eagle before settling for birdie and the hole to get back to 2 up.
Friday’s match against Wright will be tough because the two are good friends. Since last fall, Lucidi has experienced a roller-coaster ride of sorts. On Nov. 30, while riding a bike to class at the University of Southern Cal, Lucidi suffered a broken a broken right arm when a car hit her.
She took six weeks off to heal, but sometimes the shoulder pops out of joint, as it did on the ninth hole in her second match Thursday.
“I don’t mean to sound like an old man or a golden retriever, but sometimes my elbow hurts when it rains,” said Lucidi.
The only other remaining Curtis Cup player from the USA, Mollie Frankhauser, 21, of Columbus, Ohio, fell in 20 holes to Jackson.
On the final hole, Frankhauser couldn’t get up the steep uphill fairway and chipped 22 feet past the hole. In the meantime, Jackson got to the green in two and earned a par. When Frankhauser couldn’t navigate the moderate putt into the hole for a halve, Jackson beamed. It was a solid day’s work since she eliminated two Curtis Cup players, having disposed of Vikki Laing, 21, of Scotland in the morning.
“I hate to admit it, but I was really surprised,” said Jackson, a soon-to-be senior at Furman University. “I guess I was glad to make it this far, so just like I said the other day, ‘Whatever happens, happens.’”
The loss capped an exhilarating, yet tiring, few weeks for Frankhauser.
“To be honest with you, it started to wear on me today,” said Frankhauser. “I went ka-put.”
Playing in her first USGA event, Martinez, who relocated to the U.S. six months ago and will attend Auburn University, moved on after taking control of a seesaw match against NCAA champion Virada Nirapathpongporn, 20, of Durham, N.C. Never holding a lead, Nirapathpongporn evened the duel at the 404-yard par-4 12th with a birdie.
“I just said, ‘Well, we’re all square and it starts again,” said Martinez. “She has to win more holes to beat me so I just said, ‘Well, just keep working and keep getting the fairways in regulation, then going to the green, and then see if I could make the putts.”
Resilient, Martinez – no bigger than 5-foot tall – wouldn’t waver. She won the next two holes with a par and birdie, respectively. Nirapathpongporn, down 1 heading into No. 18, couldn’t get up and down and took a bogey to Martinez’s par.
“She hit the ball very well today,” said Nirapathpongporn, who knocked off Carol Semple Thompson in her morning match. “I tried the best I could, and that’s fine. She could have been a few degrees hotter than me.”
In all of Martinez’s matches, all but one has ended on the 18th hole.
“I love 18,” she said laughing. “I parred it each time. I feel good about getting to 18.”
The first quarterfinal match to end was Wright’s. She upended Walailak Satarak, 18, of Thailand, 4 and 3, after the contest was all square through six holes. Wright took a lead she would never relinquish on the 194-yard par-3 7th.
Off the elevated teeing ground, Wright hit 5-iron and came extremely close to a hole-in-one. The ball bounded off the flagstick and came to a rest an inch from the hole.
“I nearly had four hole-in-ones this week, actually,” said Wright, a senior at Pepperdine University. “I played that hole so well. So I am very confident with it, but it was exciting.”
Wright, who was born in England and moved to Australia in 1999, had five birdies in the match.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
The U.S. Women’s Amateur is open to female amateur golfers who have USGA handicap indexes not exceeding 5.4. Entries closed June 19.
After two rounds (36 holes) of stroke play, the lowest 64 scorers advanced to match play. The first two rounds of match play, consisting of 18 holes each, was played Wednesday, with the third round and quarterfinals contested Thursday. The semifinals are scheduled for Friday and the 36-hole final is set for Saturday.
Story written by Ken Klavon, USGA.
1 p.m. Becky Lucidi, Poway, Calif. (144) def. Emily Bastel, Upper Sandusky, Ohio (141),
3 and 1
1:10 p.m. Lindsey Wright, Australia (145) def. Walailak Satarak, Thailand (143), 4 and 3
1:20 p.m. Brandi Jackson, Belton, S.C. (147) def. Mollie Fankhauser, Columbus, Ohio
(148), 20 Holes
1:30 p.m. Maru Martinez, Venezuela (140) def. Virada Nirapathpongporn, Thailand (145), 2 up
10 a.m. Becky Lucidi, Poway, Calif. (144) vs. Lindsey Wright, Australia (145)
10:15 a.m. Brandi Jackson, Belton, S.C. (147) vs. Maru Martinez, Venezuela (140)