Thursday Notebook: Extra! Extra! Extra! Ramage Registers Three Consecutive 19-Hole Victories

 

By David Shefter, USGA

 

Erie, Pa. Diana Ramage might be 22 years old, but her number at this week's U.S. Women's Amateur seems to be 19.

 

That's the number of holes the Auburn University fifth-year senior from Fayetteville, Ga., has needed to win each of her first three matches at The Kahkwa Club.

 

Diana Ramage  has persevered at the Women's Amateur, winning three consecutive 19-hole matches despite an ailing wrist. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)

On Thursday, she rallied twice, once from a two-hole deficit with two to play and the other when she was one down with one to play to eliminate Karen Dennison of Madison, Ind., and 2004 USA Curtis Cupper Elizabeth Janangelo of West Hartford, Conn., respectively.

 

“Apparently I like to live on the edge,” said Ramage after beating Dennison in the round of 16.

 

In both cases, Ramage birdied the first extra hole, the 372-yard, par-4 first. She drained a 8-footer to oust Janangelo and a 5-footer against Dennison in the afternoon.

 

“I'm getting good at it,” Ramage said of playing the slightly downhill opening hole. “I need to go play No. 16 about that many times. That's my nemesis. I topped it off the tee today [against Dennison]. I had 300 yards on my second shot (it's a 338-yard hole).”

 

For the week, Ramage, who meets 18-year-old Paula Creamer of Pleasanton, Calif., in Friday's quarterfinals, is three over par on 16, including the stroke-play rounds.

 

The extra-hole matches have also tested Ramage physically. Last September, she ruptured a tendon in her left wrist, forcing her to skip virtually all of the 2003-04 college season. She was given a medical redshirt by the NCAA, giving her a fifth year of eligibility. The Women's Amateur is Ramage's first major competition since the injury, although she did play in a two-day event in Georgia where the golfers were permitted to use carts.

 

“It still bothers me,” said Ramage while unwrapping the tape. “I'm still rehabbing it. This is kind of a big test for the season. But after hitting out of these roughs and playing 38 holes in one day, I am very excited that it's held up OK.”

 

Ramage re-tooled her swing, which she says might have created the pain. She only takes the club back three-quarters and it is a little steeper.

 

“I don't have to torque my wrist so much,” said Ramage, who was spurred on by Auburn coach Kim Evans, and fellow teammates and Women's Amateur competitors Nicole Hage and Margaret Shirley. “It's a different swing, but I hit it better that way and it's straighter. It all works out in the end.”

 

Besides the wrist, Ramage deals with diabetes on a daily basis. It's a condition she has had for the past seven years. Ramage wears a pump, which gives her insulin when needed, but against Janangelo in the morning, her blood-sugar level got abnormally high. Her vision became blurred and she quickly knew what the problem was.

 

“Today was not a good diabetic day,” said Ramage, who went into the clubhouse to give herself a shot of insulin. “The highest it got this morning was 380. Normal (blood-sugar) level is 70 to 140.

 

“I might not have been able to play today if we hadn't brought my insulin. We always bring extra supplies. Coach [ Evans ] and I have learned that.”

 

Now she just hopes there's enough left in the tank for Friday's quarterfinal.

 

“It (the wrist) is sore today,” she said. “My elbow and stuff and all those tendons getting worn out. We'll see how it feels tomorrow.”

 

Taking A Break

 

While players such as Creamer and Michelle Wie have spent most of the summer playing golf competitions, Amanda McCurdy, 20, of El Dorado, Ark., has been wake boarding and dirt-biking. Following her sophomore season at the University of Arkansas, McCurdy decided she needed a break from golf. She knows the final two years will be huge as far as her career goes, so this was the right time for a respite.

 

She flew to Michigan with a friend and then drove to Minnesota to visit ex-teammate Jenny Norlien.

 

“I wrecked [on the dirt bike] and scared my teammates,” said McCurdy, a quarterfinalist at the Women's Amateur in her first appearance. She plays Sun-Young Yoo of Korea on Friday. “It was a very relaxing summer. It is what I needed.”

 

To prepare for the Women's Amateur, McCurdy played in her state stroke play championship last week, winning by 10 shots with a score of three under par over 54 holes.

 

“I know it's big time from now on,” said McCurdy of her golf. “It's going to be hard work from now on until I am done with this game. I've had my break and now I'm ready to keep going.”

 

McCurdy outlasted Canadian-born Grace Woo, 17, of Burbank, Calif., in the third round, getting up and down from the back bunker at the 18th hole to secure the 1-up win. Woo lipped out a tricky right-to-left 7-footer for birdie before McCurdy holed her 5-footer.

 

“I'm still shaking about that putt right now,” she said. “I don't like going all the way to 18, but if I end it like that I'll take it every time.”

 

See You In 2005

 

The players who lost in the round of 16 were obviously disappointed that they didn't advance on in the championship, but they can take solace that they won't have to endure qualifying for the 105th U.S. Women's Amateur. All competitors who win two matches are exempt from sectional qualifying for the next year's event.

 

“Next year it's five minutes from my house,” said an elated Margaret Shirley, who is from Roswell, Ga., which is near Ansley Golf Club, the host site for the Women's Amateur. “It's a really good golf course.”

 

Family Affair

 

It's not often that Beth Allen can enjoy her golfing success with both of her parents in attendance. Her dad, James, often caddies for her, but her mom, Carolyn, is also here this week.

 

“She is so excited because this is the biggest tournament that she's seen me play in,” said Allen, 22, of San Diego, Calif. “I'm so happy she is here.”

 

Her father is the former director of golf for the city of San Diego, which includes Torrey Pines Golf Course, site of the 2008 U.S. Open. James Allen also is Beth 's instructor and confidant.

 

“When he tells me what to do, it is so easy,” said Allen, who faces fellow southern Californian Jane Park, 17, of Rancho Cucamonga, in Friday's quarters. “I don't have to think. I just play.”

 

Stylish Approach

 

It's easy to spot Nicole Hage on the golf coach. Just look for the bright clothing. The 18-year-old sophomore-to-be at Auburn could be the Florence Griffith-Joyner of the women's amateur golfing circuit. The late Griffith-Joyner was known for her bright outfits when she was an Olympic track star in the 1980s (gold medalist in 100 meters at Seoul Games in 1988).

 

In Thursday's second-round match against future teammate Margaret Shirley, Hage was wearing orange shorts and silver golf shoes with orange trim. On Wednesday, Hage wore an orange shirt, sunglasses, orange scarf and white, plaid pants.

 

“Just my new shoes for the season,” said Hage, who lists shopping as a favorite pastime. “I like bright colors.”

 

At Auburn, players come up with nicknames for each other. For instance, Diana Ramage is called “Dirty,” reportedly after a song entitled “Dirty Diana.” Shirley has been given the name “Rita” to go along with the margarita theme. Hage is affectionately called “Princess.” She has a little ribbon with that nickname on her golf bag.

 

“I guess I'm a little spoiled,” said Hage with a big smile. “I'm a little pampered. So I guess that's the reason for the name.”

 

According To Plan

 

While the Women's Amateur has had its share of upsets, four round-of-16 matchups were according to seed. Eighth-seeded Karen Dennison faced No. 9 Diana Ramage in the upper half of the bracket, while the lower half saw No. 2 Julieta Granada play No. 15 Sarah Huarte, No. 7 Morgan Pressel play No. 10 In-Bee Park and No. 6 Jane Park take on 11th-seeded Mina Harigae. The higher seeds went 2-2, with Pressel and Jane Park winning and Dennison and Granada losing.

 

Granada was bidding to become the first player to win the U.S. Girls' Junior and Women's Amateur in the same year. Nicole Perrot almost pulled it off in 2001, losing in the final of the Women's Amateur to Meredith Duncan in a 37-hole thriller.

 

 

Medalist Report

 

Amie Cochran 's first-round 1-up loss to Hsaio-Ching Lu on Wednesday was only the second time the stroke-play medalist fell in the opening round in the last nine years. Courtney Swaim lost to Elizabeth Janangelo in the 2002 Women's Amateur at Sleepy Hollow. Before that, you have to go back to 1994 when co-medalists Lori Teague and Erica Wicoff both fell in the first round to Lanny Whiteside and Page Marsh Lea, respectively.

 

Premature Ending

 

Julieta Granada of Paraguay and the 2004 U.S. Girls' Junior champion won her second-round match when Niloufar Aazam-Zanganeh of Switzerland had to default due to injury. Aazam-Zanganeh, who had hip surgery last September and will be a senior at Duke University this fall, was trailing 2-down when she teed off on the 14th hole.  After pushing her tee shot far right, she consulted with a doctor and determined that she could not continue.

Quote/Unquote

"I felt like I shot 85 on one hole." -- Jane Park talking about her performance on Thursday afternoon, which included a double-bogey six at the 16th hole against Mina Harigae.

 

David Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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