Wednesday Notebook: Granada Wins 22-Hole Thriller Over Wedding

Players Combine For 13 Birdies In First-Round Contest

 

By David Shefter, USGA

 

Erie, Pa. – Nearly half (14) of the first-round matches Wednesday at the 104th U.S. Women's Amateur went the full 18 holes. Five of those were extended beyond 18, but arguably the best match of the day occurred between No. 2 seed Julieta Granada of Paraguay and 20-year-old Gabby Wedding of Wilmington, Ohio.

 

Second seed Julieta Granada had to sweat out a 22-hole thriller against Gabby Wedding on Wednesday. The two combined for 13 birdies. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)

Not only did both competitors shoot the equivalent of 3-under-par 69 over the challenging 6,325-yard, par-72 Kahkwa Club layout, but they combined for 13 birdies, the last of which gave Granada, the 2004 U.S. Girls' Junior champion, a 22-hole victory.

 

“I bet it was fun to watch, but to play it was so tough,” said a relieved Granada, one of four players to better par during the 36-hole stroke-play qualifying portion of the championship. “I'm glad it's over.”

 

Granada sealed the victory by hitting a pitching-wedge approach from 115 yards to three feet at the 354-yard, par-4 fourth hole.

 

“I kept calling her a robot all day,” said Wedding, a senior-to-be at Kent State University. “Sometimes you play and know somebody is going to open the door for you and I knew there was no way the door was going to open [against Granada ]. I was going to have to open it up myself. Our match today showed that.”

 

Just how good was the play? The two halved holes three, eight and 14 with birdies. Granada won four holes with birdies, while Wedding won three. When she took the 13th with a birdie, Granada thought she might have lost the momentum for good.

 

Then again, Granada was 3 down at the turn, but won 10 with a par and birdied the par-4 12th. Granada eventually squared the match with a birdie at 16, but lost the lead again when she bogeyed 17. At 18, Granada needed to hole a difficult left-to-right downhill 6-footer for par to send the match to extra holes. The converted putt brought about a fist-pump and renewed vigor.

 

“I learned today that I can come back, that you never give up,” said Granada. “It was tough – it was a good match.”

 

Added Wedding, who left Kahkwa knowing she gave it her best effort: “I played almost as good as I can play. She played amazing. She's tough. I'm pretty happy because I hung in there and gave her a good match. She was probably a little surprised going against the No. 63 seed and I took it to that many holes.

 

“I could see her winning this if she plays the way she played me today without being intimidated. I thought maybe she would get down … but no, she stayed tough and I think she could go against [Michelle] Wie, she could go against [Paula] Creamer, any of the top players.”

 

Add Granada

 

Even though the format is similar – two rounds of stroke-play qualifying followed by a 64-player match-play draw – Granada sees a difference in atmosphere this week at the Women's Amateur as compared to the Girls' Junior.

 

“For some reason, this one seems more special,” she said. “It gets more attention – there are more crowds and more media.”

 

Good Stuff

 

Another birdie fest was the matchup between 2004 USA Curtis Cupper Paula Creamer and Katie Futcher. Creamer, who posted a 2-and-1 victory, had five birdies and an eagle (at No. 14), while Futcher, who advanced to the second round of the Women's Amateur in 2003, had five birdies.

 

At 17, Futcher made a 45-footer for birdie and Creamer then topped it with an 8-footer to close out the match.

 

“It was much better than the last two days,” said Creamer, who had a pair of 76s in stroke-play qualifying. If she had played 18 and made a par, she would have shot the equivalent of 5-under 67. “The last two days couldn't have been worse. My pace, my speed out there has been awful. But I putted very well today. My pace was better.”

 

Fun At The Ballpark

 

It wasn't just all golf this week for Isabelle and Ivan Lendl. Father and daughter took some time to relax at an Erie Seawolves minor-league game this week. The Seawolves are the Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.

 

“It was kind of neat when they didn't hit a home run, the crowd didn't boo like they do in big cities like Boston,” said Isabelle. “When you go to a game between Boston and New York (Yankees), the crowd will boo if the home team doesn't win. They played music in between innings and the food was cheap. It was a lot of fun.”

 

Catching Up

 

Every golfer has a way of relaxing off the course. Some like to watch television or take in a movie. Others find a good book. Jane Park, 17, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is reading the 9/11 Commission Report on the tragedies that took place three years ago.

 

“It's real interesting to read about that stuff,” said Park, the 2003 U.S. Women's Amateur runner-up and a member of the 2004 USA Curtis Cup team. “My favorite books are still Harry Potter

 

Park, one of five 2004 Curtis Cuppers to qualify for match play (Annie Thurman and Brittany Lang missed the cut), posted a 3-and-2 victory over Terra Petsinger of Arvilla, N.D. “If I had to grade my game today, it would be a C-plus,” said Park. “It took me nine holes to get going. I was struggling today.”

 

The other four Curtis Cuppers also advanced: Michelle Wie (1 up over Angela Park), Elizabeth Janangelo (19 holes over Marina Choi), Sarah Huarte (5 and 4 over Jenny Suh) and Creamer.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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