Friends Become Foes For One Match

Texans, Future College Teammates Knoll And Underwood Meet In Second Round Of Women's Amateur

By David Shefter, USGA

 

Gladwyne, Pa. – Whether it’s trying on makeup, shopping for new shoes or working on a new technique for bunker shots, Mallory Underwood and Ashley Knoll likely can be found together.

 

Friends Mallory Underwood (left) and Ashley Knoll share a light moment during their second-round match on Thursday. Knoll posted a 6-and-4 victory over her future teammate at Oklahoma State. Both will be freshmen this fall. (John Mummert/USGA)

They have been the closest of friends since the two met at a local golf tournament some four years ago. Underwood and Knoll each live in the Houston, Texas suburbs: the former in Montgomery, while Knoll is some 20 minutes away at The Woodlands.

 

And this fall, the two 18-year-olds will be packing their belongings and heading north to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater .

 

But on Thursday at the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Philadelphia Country Club, Knoll and Underwood put their friendship on hold for a couple of hours. While neither preferred to face each other in a match, that’s exactly where they found themselves after both won first-round contests – Knoll beat Courtney Wood, of Brentwood, Tenn., 5 and 4; Underwood eliminated Da Sol Chung, of Korea, 3 and 2.

 

"At first, I didn’t even see the draw,” said Underwood, who missed the match-play cut at the 2002 Women’s Amateur and lost in the second round at last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior. “She called me and told me and I was like, ‘Oh no.’ But I was just worried about getting through the first match.”

 

When the two arrived at the first tee, they hugged and wished each other good luck. But unlike other matches, the two enjoyed good conversation throughout. Knoll, playing in her first Women’s Amateur, took control of the match from the start and posted a 6-and-4 victory to earn a third-round matchup with Lisa Meldrum, of Canada, who ironically plays at rival Oklahoma.

 

"The only thing I was worried about is by the end of the day, one of us would be out of the tournament,” said Knoll. “We were just smiling and laughing (at the outset). In a normal match, I wouldn’t really talk to the other player, but it’s hard not to because we are such good friends. You can’t just be straight-faced the whole time.”

 

It was Knoll who actually recruited Underwood to look at Oklahoma State. Although Knoll had looked at offers from Texas and Florida, her heart was made up to attend Oklahoma State following an unofficial visit to the campus over Christmas break in 2001. Underwood was looking at Arizona State, Texas A&M and Louisiana State and didn’t even consider OSU.

 

"I was like, ‘No, what’s in Oklahoma,’ ” Underwood said of the recruiting process.

 

But Knoll kept persisting, telling her friend that the facilities and school were first-rate. Underwood finally relented and took her recruiting trip the same weekend as Knoll.

 

"I went and looked and it was unbelievable,” added Underwood. "So it was like, sign me up.”

 

Of the two, Knoll has had the more-decorated junior career. She was asked to play on the 12-person USA Junior Solheim Cup team last fall in Minnesota prior to the pro version of the international team competition. She got to participate in the flag-raising ceremonies and meet many of the USA players.

 

"It was an awesome experience,” said Knoll, whose USA team defeated the juniors from Europe. “It was good to interact with them (European players) because I had never really encountered them in golf. I enjoyed meeting Juli Inkster. She’s a fun person and she was happy to have us out there.”

 

This year, Knoll captured the Texas 5A high school state title for the second time (she also won it as a freshman) and she has added three more junior titles, including the prestigious Thunderbird Invitational in Arizona . She also won an American Junior Golf Association team event with Underwood, who was the runner-up in the Texas 4A high school tournament.

 

Prior to the Women’s Amateur, Knoll and Underwood flew up to Wilmington, Del., together to compete in the Betsy Rawls McDonald ’s event at DuPont Country Club. They even shared a hotel room. This week during some of the weather delays, Underwood and Knoll enjoyed a few card games in the clubhouse.

 

"She does my hair a lot,” said Knoll. “I don’t do hers. She doesn’t trust me.”

 

Flying Solo

Charlotte Mayorkas carried her own bag through each of the two stroke-play qualifying rounds and her two match-play victories on Thursday. The Chula Vista, Calif., resident and junior-to-be at UCLA prefers lugging her own bag at competitions. (John Mummert/USGA)

As Charlotte Mayorkas, of Chula Vista, Calif., walked back to the clubhouse following a hard-fought 19-hole victory over Brittany Lang, of McKinney, Texas, an ESPN production worker drove by in a cart and told the UCLA junior-to-be that she should get a break by allowing someone else to carry her bag.

 

Mayorkas seemed oblivious to the gesture. The 19-year-old is perfectly happy lugging her Sunday bag around the hilly 6,382-yard layout.

 

"I had a bad experience at the 1999 Girls’ Junior,” said Mayorkas, explaining her reason for eschewing a caddie. “I’m tired, but not like exhausted. It’s my security blanket. I just like carrying it. It feels weird when I have somebody else carrying it.”

 

While local caddies can be helpful in reading the tricky William Flynn-designed green complexes, Mayorkas decided that going solo was the right thing to do. She did hire a caddie during a practice round last Saturday to get a feel for the nuances of the course.

 

"Forty dollars was a lot (to pay) for a caddie,” she added. “I don’t really want to talk to anybody and I don’t want anybody to read my putts, either. If I don’t see (the line), it’s my fault.”

 

Mayorkas also carried her own clubs at the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship in June down at Ocean Hammock in Palm Coast, Fla. But her stay there was brief, losing in the first round of match play.

 

Mayorkas, who faces In-Bee Park in the third round on Thursday, was coming off a strong season at UCLA where she was named a first-team All-American by the National Golf Coaches Association.

 

"This is the furthest I have gone in a USGA event,” said Mayorkas, who placed 16th at the NCAA Women’s Championship. “After I won at ( Arizona State ), my postseason was a little rough.”

 

Mayorkas wasn’t the only person not using a caddie. Sarah Sasse, a recent graduate from the University of Nebraska, carried her own for her opening-round victory over Sally Krueger, of San Francisco, Calif. But she opted to have a caddie for round two. Sasse had a 3-up lead with four holes to play against Kailin Downs, but wound up dropping a 1-up decision, losing the final four holes. Downs, of Bend, Ore., entered the championship having won the Women’s Trans-National last week in New Mexico.

 

Early Curfew

It was not a good day for the youngest competitors left in the field. All three 13-year-olds, Michelle Wie, Sydney Burlison and Mina Harigae lost their first-round matches. Harigae, coming off a semifinal showing at the U.S. Girls’ Junior two weeks ago, fell to Spain ’s Tania Elosegue, 4 and 2. Burlison lost to Ya-Ni Tseng, of Chinese Taipei, 6 and 5, and Wie suffered a tough 1-up defeat to Maru Martinez.

 

Tseng, a 14-year-old, also was eliminated in round two by Paula Creamer, 17, of Pleasanton, Calif., 1 up, when her 3-foot par putt at the 18th hole did a full 360-degree lipout.

 

Local Girl Eliminated

Four players from the Greater Philadelphia area were among the 156 contestants this week, but only Kristen White, of Doylestown, Pa., survived the match-play cut. White played the longest match of the championship, dropping a 21-hole decision to Katie Futcher, of The Woodlands, Texas, who plays collegiately at Penn State. White will be a junior at Ohio State .

Mid-Ams Gone

It was a tough day for the career amateurs as all seven who qualified for match play were eliminated by the end of the second round. Kathy Hartwiger, the 2002 U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champion, was the lone survivor of the opening round, but the 37-year-old mother of two was ousted by Diana Ramage, a senior-to-be at Auburn University, 2 up. The other six to make match play were Robin Burke, Sally Krueger, Leann Fairlie, Ellen Port (three-time Women's Mid-Am champion), Laura Shanahan-Rowe (2001 Women's Mid-Am winner) and Cecilia Barksdale.

 

State of the Championship

California had the most players in the match-play field with 15, followed closely by Texas with seven. The Californians went 14-8 on the day, while the Texans posted a 6-6 mark.

 

David Shefter is a staff writer with the USGA. He can be reached at dshefter.usga.org.

 

 

 

 

 

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