Spaniard Elosegui Leads Stroke-Play Qualifying At Women's Amateur

 

Erie, Pa. – Tania Elosegui, 22, of Spain, fired a 4-under-par 68 to lead after the first round of stroke-play qualifying in the U.S. Women's Amateur at the 6,365-yard, par-72 course at The Kahkwa Club.

  

Morgan Pressel, 16, of Boca Raton, Fla., was a stroke behind at 69. Amie Cochran, 18, of Torrance, Calif., was at 70, but a double-bogey 6 at the ninth hole, her 18th hole of the day, prevented an even better finish.

 

Elosegui, playing in only her second Women's Amateur Championship, eclipsed several better known players. USA Curtis Cup players Michelle Wie, 14, of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Jane Park, 17, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., fired rounds of 75. Paula Creamer, of Pleasanton, Calif., another Curtis Cupper, posted a 76.

 

Elosegui fired her iron shots close to the hole and made five birdies on putts ranging in length from one to nine feet. She hit the par-5 eighth hole in two shots and two-putted for a sixth birdie. Her only bogeys came on the seventh and 14th holes when she failed to hit the greens with her approach shots.

 

Five birdies and a successful 35-foot putt for an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole vaulted Pressel into contention for medalist honors in her first Women's Amateur. She withdrew from the 2003 championship when her mother, a breast cancer patient, took a turn for the worse. Her mother died in September.

 

“I've rebounded pretty well from losing her,” Pressel said. “It definitely motivated me … I inherited my competitive fire from my mother and from my grandfather.”

 

Elosegui endured an 18-hour plane flight from her hometown of San Sebastian to Madrid to New York to Cincinnati to Erie to play in the championship. She arrived Thursday night and slept ten hours before beginning three days of practice at this Donald Ross-designed layout.

 

Wie and Park struggled in their 3-over-par rounds. Wie seemed to be sailing after a 2-under-par 34 on the front nine, but came home in 41 with five bogeys. She snap-hooked tee shots holes 10 and 18, three-putted the 11th green and missed two additional greens.

 

“I'm not even close to satisfied,” said Wie, the 2003 Women's Amateur Public Links champion. “It was one of those rounds where you got off to a good start, start making birdies, then I don't know what happened after that. I've been working on my swing and it felt really good in the beginning, but then I lost it.”

 

On an ideal golf day, with light breezes fluttering the flagsticks, only six players broke par. Nicole Cutler, 23, of Cherry Hills Village, Colo., Jennifer Hong, 17, of Windermere, Fla., and Gina Umeck, 22, of Redlands, Calif., finished at 1-under-par 71.

The torturous rolling greens at Kahkwa took a toll on players considered to be among golf's royalty. Carol Semple Thompson, 55, of Sewickley, Pa., a seven-time United States Golf Association champion, fired an 80, and said she is considering limiting her future competition to senior events.

Marlene Streit of Canada, a four-time USGA champion, shot 79. At 70, however, Streit is the oldest player ever to play in the Women's Amateur. Her impressive front-nine 36 caused a stir among younger players, caddies and spectators before she finished with a 43 on her second nine.

 

“I think that 36 was like shooting 30,” said Streit, who was regularly outdriven by 40 to 50 yards by her younger fellow-competitors. “Once you get near the putting green, it's all the same game.

“I think the only iron I hit was my R-90,” she said, referring to a model of sand wedge popular more than 35 years ago.

 

The U.S. Women's Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association. Ten are strictly for amateurs.

 

Story written by Rhonda Glenn, manager of communications for the USGA. E-mail her with comments or questions at rglenn@usga.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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