McCurdy Comes Up One Match Short
– Amanda McCurdy's
roots are in southern Arkansas,
but she definitely left her heart in northwestern Pennsylvania
this past week.
virtual unknown at the start of the 104th U.S. Women's Amateur at
The Kahkwa Club, the 20-year-old McCurdy, a junior-to-be at the
quickly became a fan favorite. Whether it was her diminutive 5-foot-1
frame or just her feistiness on the golf course, people in Erie
fell in love with her.
|Amanda McCurdy dazzled the crowds at Kahkwa
Club with her big heart and gutsy play during the 2004 U.S.
Women's Amateur. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)
was the underdog and Cinderella story. Too bad Bill Murray wasn't
girl from a small blue-collar town (El
Dorado) came to the right place.
might have more inhabitants, but its residents can relate to that
type of upbringing.
Sunday's 36-hole championship match against the more-heralded 17-year-old
teen from Rancho Cucamonga,
it was easy to see who the crowd was pulling for. Anytime McCurdy
hit it close, she drew the biggest applause. Even Park recognized
it, although she did her best to block it out. Last year at Philadelphia
Country Club, Park, at 16, was the decided underdog against 21-year-old
Duke University All-American
was a really tough crowd,” admitted Park.
“Even though I hit a good shot it was nothing. And that shot on
four [in the afternoon 18], when I hit it to [six] feet, I thought
it was 50 feet away. I was like, whoah!”
that Park isn't personable or charming – she is and very southern-California
cool with her sunglasses and white bucket hat – but McCurdy had
something that the fans could relate to. She was the X-factor in
a field full of headliners that not only included Park, but 18-year-old
Paula Creamer, 14-year-old Michelle Wie, 16-year-old Morgan Pressel,
13-year-old Isabelle Lendl and a slew of collegiate All-Americans
like Elizabeth Janangelo, Brittany Lang, Sarah Huarte, Nicole Hage
and Charlotte Mayorkas.
just goes to show what one great week at the Women's Amateur can
do for someone's career and confidence. Becky
wasn't a household name, either,
two years ago when she emerged as the champion over another unheralded
player, Brandi Jackson.
McCurdy lost this match, 2 up, but LPGA Tour Hall of Famer Annika
Sorenstam also lost a Women's Amateur final in 1992 to Vicki
who happened to be a college teammate at the University
with McCurdy's current Arkansas
|Among Amanda McCurdy's supporters this
week was her head coach at the University of Arkansas, Kelley
Hester, who flew in Friday night for the final two rounds of
match play. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)
flew up on Friday night after the quarterfinals to lend support
and a big Arkansas
booster, Trevor Lavy,
chartered a plane from Fayetteville,
Saturday night to bring his family and former Arkansas
for the final. Lavy's oldest
will be a freshman this fall at Arkansas.
was pretty neat,” said McCurdy, whose father, David,
caddied for her while her mother followed the matches on the USGA
Web site. “It's always good to have supporters, but I could barely
find them amongst all the other supporters I had. Al
l the marshals had on red shirts
and they seemed to blend in. They said they did it for the Hogs
nickname), so I appreciated that.
I really can't say enough about the support that I got from this
crowd and hopefully that will continue. I made a lot of new friends
this week. That helped me a lot. That's why it made it so hard not
you can't say she didn't go down without trying. Facing a 3-hole
deficit with four holes to play, McCurdy won holes 33 and 35 to
trim the margin to one, yet she couldn't take the 36th hole from
it was a week she'll never forget and a confidence booster for her
final two years at Arkansas.
iron play was really outstanding,” said Hester. “She continued to
give herself good opportunities and she wasn't able to make the
putts she needed to win. She was very controlled.
may need to get her a convertible now for that confidence she now
has in her big head. But that's good. She should use this as a sounding
board to move on to better things. It absolutely helps the team
[for the coming season].”
McCurdy: “It feels good to leave here with more people knowing me
and maybe not underestimating me in the future. That's all I can
say about how much experience I got this week. And what great players
I played against. I know I'm going to be better for this.
be back next year and I'm so excited to get to play in the [U.S.
Women's] Open. I don't have to qualify. How great is that? Of course
I wish I would have won. I'm a competitor and I hate to come this
far and not come out on top, but second place isn't all that bad.”
She lost in 2003 and won in '04. McCurdy can do the same. The tough
thing facing her is a 16-hour car ride back to El
she exited the room, someone brought that up. “I'm not looking forward
to that,” she said.
she'll have lots of time to go over the memories of one special
of Villa Maria High School, the 2003 District 10 high school girls'
champion, and Joel Hobson of Union City High, the
2004 Erie District Golf Association Junior Match Play champion,
had the honor of being standard bearers for the morning 18 of the
36-hole championship match … For the afternoon 18, Ashley
Lindenberger, who plays for the McDowell High girls' team,
and Jeff Ellis, a member of the Mercyhurst Prep
golf team, acted as standard bearers … Huge galleries attended the
week-long championship at gallery and much of it had to do with
prep work done by Judy Saurer,
who coordinated media coverage for the club. Saurer met with members
of the local press prior to the event and all of the television
stations and some of the radio stations covered the competition
with highlights and human-interest stories. The Erie-Times
sent as many as five reporters each day to the course and treated
the Women's Amateur as if it were the U.S. Open with full-page stories,
columns and features. An estimated 4,000 spectators attended Sunday's
36-hole final and many believe it was one of the best attended Women's
Amateurs in recent history … The 2005 Women's Amateur will be held
at Ansley Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga., a course designed by Bob
Cupp. The 2006 Women's Amateur is scheduled for Pumpkin
Ridge Golf Club in North Plains,
Ore., another course designed by Cupp and former U.S. Amateur champion
Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments