Jackson, Lucidi To Meet In 102nd Women's Amateur Final

Scarborough, N.Y. – Storming back from a 3-down deficit on the final three holes during Friday’s twice-delayed U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, 21-year-old Brandi Jackson of Belton, S.C., advanced to Saturday’s final against Becky Lucidi, 21, of Poway, Calif.

At the 6,190-yard, par-71 Sleepy Hollow Country Club, Jackson eliminated Maru Martinez, 18, of Venezuela on the 398-yard par-4 19th after winning the 16th, 17th and 18th holes. Lucidi, a fifth-year senior at the University of Southern Cal, moved on when she sank a 16-footer for eagle to dispatch 22-year-old Lindsey Wright of Australia, 3 and 2.

Jackson and Lucidi, winner of the longest drive contest at this year’s NCAAs, have never faced one another. Two American-born players will be vying for the title for only the fourth time in the last 10 years.

“That’s definitely different than a lot of tournaments,” said Jackson, a student at Furman. “It’s good to have Americans going for the championship, for sure.”

Jackson, who never led during the match, stayed within striking distance of Martinez. It wasn’t until No. 16, with Martinez dormie 3, that the self-described “laid back” Jackson made her move.

It was also an ominous sign for Martinez as storm clouds blanketed the sun.

On No. 16, a 152-yard par 3, Martinez twice couldn’t get up and down while Jackson two-putted from 12 feet. The same sequence occurred on the next hole – Jackson pulled to within one when Martinez chipped from side to side of the green.

Suddenly, all the pressure was on Martinez.

“I was not nervous,” said Martinez. “I think I lost my focus a little bit.”

After both players reached the 18th green in two, the stage was set for Martinez to win outright by halving the hole with a 4-footer. Instead, she missed left.

“I thought it was the right read,” said Martinez, still clearly shocked. “If I would have touched it a bit harder, it would have gone in.”

Said Jackson: “I was really expecting her to make it. I just thought I was glad to make my par putt, and if she made it, I was glad I made it that far. After 12, 13, holes, I wasn’t expecting to be on 18.”

On the 19th hole, Jackson stuck her approach within 8 feet of the hole. About 90 yards out, Martinez's ball came to a rest off the green, about 25 feet away. As Martinez lined up her putt, USGA officials called play at 3:41 p.m. EDT time and ushered away the two players.

The delay, the second one of the day, lasted a shade under two hours. Martinez was hoping play would be suspended as the two walked to the first-hole teeing ground, which served as No. 19. That way, after watching her lead dissolve like cotton candy in rain, she would be able to collect herself.

“It would be a different story, yes,” said Martinez.

After warming up again, play resumed at 5:38 p.m. Martinez pulled her 25-footer left; Jackson didn’t miss.

Said Martinez, who will enter Auburn University as a freshman: “I still can’t believe it. I still can’t believe what happened.”

“That’s the perfect definition of match play right there,” said Lucidi, who had finished before the second delay. “You can never count anybody out.”

The other match was phenomenal in terms of scoring. Lucidi shot a 60 through the 17 holes and 32 through the first nine; Wright had a 64.

The front nine has been kind to Lucidi the past two days. In Thursday’s morning match against Elizabeth Janangelo of West Hartford, Conn., Lucidi blasted her way to a 30 on the front. Then in the quarterfinal match versus Emily Bastel of Upper Sanduskey, Ohio, Lucidi notched a 32 through the first nine.

She struggled to explain her prowess on the front nine.

“I just like starting,” said Lucidi. “I am kind of anxious to get out there. I like the way the first nine set up.

“[They’re] just more appealing to my eye. A few of them seem like they are more scoreable, [a] little shorter for me.”

Lucidi closed out the match with an exclamation point, draining a 16-footer for eagle. Overall, Lucidi finished with seven birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. Wright had five birdies and two bogeys.

After the first five holes, Lucidi had a 2-up lead. On the 403-yard par-4 5th, Lucidi knocked her approach to 2 feet.

Wright evened things by the 8th hole, but fell back on the 139-yard par-3 10th, a hole surrounded by water.

On No. 12, Wright chipped in from 50 feet with a 5-iron to close within one. Wright called it the “highlight for the day.”

Lucidi wouldn’t break, though.

On No. 15, a 511-yard par 5, Lucidi put the clamps on the match with 30-foot putt for birdie that drew a quick left fist pump. She was now 2 up.

After halving No. 16, Lucidi saved her best for last, draining a side-winding for eagle. The two players embraced. Wright, a close friend of Lucidi’s, admitted that it was easier to swallow because of how well both played.

“I couldn’t have played any better than what I did, really,” said Wright.

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, were contested Wednesday, with the third round and quarterfinals played on Thursday. The 36-hole final is set for 9 a.m. Saturday.

Story written by Ken Klavon, USGA.

Semifinal Results
10 a.m. Becky Lucidi, Poway, Calif. (144) def. Lindsey Wright, Australia (145) def., 3 and 2
10:15 a.m. Brandi Jackson, Belton, S.C. (147) def. Maru Martinez, Venezuela (140), 19 holes

Final Pairing
9 a.m. Jackson vs. Lucidi


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