Birthday Girl Gets Her Wish

Bastel Survives Eight-Hole Playoff For Final Match-Play Spot


By David Shefter, USGA


Gladwyne, Pa. – Either way, it was going to be a happy birthday for one of the final two contestants involved in the 10-for-5 playoff to determine the final spots in the match-play draw for the 103rd U.S. Women’s Amateur at Philadelphia Country Club.


Emily Bastel survived an eight-hole playoff to garner the final spot for match play at the Women's Amateur on Wednesday. The 23-year-old faces medalist Aree Song in the first round on Thursday. (John Mummert/USGA)

Emily Bastel, of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, turned 23 on Wednesday. Esther Choe, of La Quinta, Calif., turned 14 on Thursday, the first day of match play. At stake was the 64th seed and a date with medalist Aree Song at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday.


That spot would finally go to Bastel after she hit her 11-wood approach to the par-4 18 th (it was the second time the two had played the hole) to within 3 feet of the flagstick. Choe missed a 25-foot birdie putt and Bastel drained her hers to end the playoff.


Earlier, Katie Connelly, Allison Fouch, Alice Kim and Maru Martinez had advanced, while Amber Marsh, Alana Condon, Meaghan Francella and Lisa Meshke were eliminated. All 10 players finished at 11-over-par 153.


"Wow,” said Bastel, a member of the 2002 USA Curtis Cup and Women’s World Amateur teams. “I have been notoriously short this entire week (on my approach shots), so (my dad and I) looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s try and get one in there close.’ That was really good.”


Dave Bastel, Emily ’s father, is serving as her caddie this week. This likely will be Bastel’s final Women’s Amateur as she has applied to attend LPGA Qualifying School that begins at the end of this month. She did register as an amateur, leaving her the option to regain her amateur status immediately should she fail to earn her tour card.


Several times during their 3-hour, 6-minute eight-hole marathon, Bastel and Choe seemed to be on the verge of either elimination or advancement.


On the fourth playoff hole, the par-4 18th, Bastel needed to make a difficult 15-foot downhill putt for par to stay in the hunt. This came after a challenging chip shot from near the right greenside bunker.


"That shot I had over there was just brutal,” said Bastel, a semifinalist at the 2001 Women’s Amateur. “You could hardly see (the ball) and I swear it kept sinking as I stood there. I hit it up there and my dad said, ‘You know how to putt, you can make it.’ I got a good line and I just had to trust it.”

Choe, a quarterfinalist at last month's U.S. Girls' Junior at Brooklawn Country Club, also had good birdie opportunities each time she played the par-3 11th hole, missing putts of 12 feet and 8 feet.


On the seventh playoff hole, Bastel saved Choe a stroke and possible elimination when she almost failed to replace her ballmarker in its original position. As Choe put her ball down for the short bogey putt, Bastel quickly reminded her about replacing her coin, thus saving her a penalty stroke.


Bastel now has a tough challenge against Song, who shot a 67 on Wednesday, tying her with Michelle Wie for the lowest round of the championship. But last year, Elizabeth Janangelo proved that the medalist can be beaten in the opening round as she knocked off Courtney Swaim after being the final match-play qualifier.


"We’ll try to keep the trend alive,” Bastel said.


Martinez earned a match with second seed Wie after making an up-and-down par at the fifth playoff hole, the par-4 10th. It ended a long day for the native of Venezuela, who was a semifinalist at last year’s Women’s Amateur. She finished her second round at 9:30 a.m. and then had to wait it out to see if her score would hold up. Martinez had a 73 in the first round but followed that up with a disappointing 80.


"There’s still a lot of golf to be played, so I just have to be patient,” said Martinez, a sophomore-to-be at Auburn University. “I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow.”


Connelly, Kim and Fouch each advanced at the first playoff hole with pars. Fouch and Kim both played in this year’s Women’s Open and the former said that experience definitely helped during the playoff.


"I’m not going to lie, my heart was pumping over that (10-foot) birdie putt,” said the fifth-year-senior-to-be at Michigan State. “But I feel a little bit more at ease now. The Open helped in a lot of different ways.


"I did feel confident. I know I am facing people who I know I’m just as good as they are. I was a little bumpy with my short game the first day (of stroke play) and today I missed some drives. But I feel both of those things came back around at the end today.”


Connelly, a quarterfinalist at the Women’s Western Amateur (where she lost to eventual champion Brittany Lang), is competing in her fourth Women’s Amateur and she has made the match-play cut in each appearance. This was the first time the Beloit, Wis., resident advanced via a playoff.


"I was not loose at all,” said Connelly, who finished her round around 2 p.m. and then had to wait two hours for the playoff. “I just chipped and putted before I went out. I hit a 6-iron to 25 feet. It (playoff) was fun.”


Score one for academia: This year’s Women’s Amateur field is filled with players from some of finest collegiate golf programs in the nation. Teams such as Duke, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Florida, Texas, Michigan State, California - Berkeley, UCLA and Southern California are represented.


Then there’s Avery Kiser from Princeton University. Yes, the Ivy League school that’s known more for its academics than its golf. But Kiser of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., has given Princeton followers something to cheer for this week, as she easily qualified for match play with rounds of 72 and 74 (146).


Kiser, a junior-to-be, has captured the last two Ivy League titles. But even she knows onc she steps outside the conference to play against the stronger teams, the odds are stacked against her.


"It’s a reality check, but it kind of knocks you back to where you belong and out of the clouds and back on your feet,” said Kiser. “What wins a tournament in the Ivy League is not even close to qualifying at the NCAA regionals.”


That’s what makes the Women’s Amateur special for Kiser. It’s an opportunity to showcase her skills against the very best, especially since her golf season at school is so short due to the weather. The other Ivy Leaguer in the field was Cindy Shin, who will be a freshman at Yale in the fall. She failed to qualify for match play.


"I wanted to come here and shoot two decent rounds and give myself a chance at match play,” said Kiser. “It’s a tough tournament because … everyone here is so good that sometimes two of your best rounds won’t qualify. You just keep your fingers crossed.”


Kiser, an engineering major who has thoughts about getting into investment banking, said this is the first national event she has played this summer. She competes in the San Diego City Women’s Amateur and spends the rest of her time working or relaxing at home. So she did not come to Philadelphia Country Club with tremendous expectations.


"If I lose tomorrow, I have done what I wanted to do,” she said. “I’ve played two good rounds of golf. My game is coming along. To be able to walk out of here with an Ivy League bag and just say that you made it to match play is huge.”


Early exit for Thompson : For the first time since 1969, the match-play draw won’t have the name Carol Semple Thompson . Her 36-hole total of 158 missed the cut by five strokes. Thompson had advanced to the third round in each of the last two Women’s Amateurs. She did not play in the 1977 championship, meaning she had qualified for match play in the last 32 Women’s Amateurs for which she entered. Thompson won the 1973 Women’s Amateur and was the runner-up in 1974. She has won a total of seven USGA titles, including the last four Senior Women’s Amateur Championships.


Early exit Part II: Two players, Sookhee Baek and Bernadette Luse, were disqualified for failing to show up for their assigned times on Wednesday (Rule 6-3). Baek apparently injured her hand on Tuesday, but had failed to notify a USGA official on her wish to withdraw. Luse simply misinterpreted her time.


David Shefter is a staff writer for the USGA. He can be reached at .


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