Am Field Headlined By Marquee Players
David Shefter, USGA
has been five years since a teenager captured the U.S. Women's Amateur
title, that being 18-year-old Dorothy Delasin who turned professional
not long after garnering the championship at Biltmore Forest Country
Club in Asheville, N.C.
|Paula Creamer is looking for that elusive
first USGA championship. (USGA photo archives)
drought is even longer for a mid-amateur (age 25 and over) golfers;
the last champion being 28-year-old Canadian Cathy Sherk in 1978
when she defeated Judy Oliver, 4 and 3, at Sunnybrook Country Club
in Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
last junior to take the title was Vicki Goetze in 1989 when the
16-year-old defeated fellow junior Brandie Burton at Pinehurst (N.C.)
Country Club and Resort's No. 2 course a week after Burton had won
the U.S. Girls' Junior. Goetze is one of four 16-year-olds to win
the U.S. Women's Amateur. Nobody younger has achieved the feat,
but 14-year-old Michelle Wie will try to do it this week.
one has to go back to 1996 to find the last player to successfully
defend her Women's Amateur title (Kelli Kuehne).
156 of the best female amateurs congregate at The Kahkwa Club in
Erie, Pa., Aug. 9-15, another chapter in this storied championship
will be written.
will the winner come from the latest dynamic crop of young guns
that includes 37 players under the age of 18? Or will the trend
of collegiate standouts walking away with the Robert F. Cox trophy
continue? Or might we see one of the 20 mid-amateur players steal
the thunder from this generation of hotshots?
thing is for sure, the 2004 Women's Amateur won't be short of headliners.
Even though defending champion Virada Nirapathpongporn of Thailand
has graduated from Duke University and turned professionals, the
three semifinalists from a year ago are back, all of whom are under
the age of 19.
list includes two 2004 USA Curtis Cup participants in Jane Park,
last year's runner-up, and Paula Creamer. Creamer has enjoyed quite
a summer, but has yet to join the winner's circle. The Pleasanton,
Calif., 18-year-old nearly became the first amateur since JoAnne
Carner in 1969 to win a LPGA tournament when she finished tied for
second at the ShopRite Classic in Galloway Township, N.J., in mid-June.
couple of weeks earlier, she helped the USA team defeat Great Britain
& Ireland at Formby in Merseyside, England in the biennial Curtis
also has reached the semifinals in her last three USGA amateur competitions
and shared low-amateur honors with fellow Curtis Cupper Wie at the
U.S. Women's Open at The Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Mass.,
in early July.
Creamer is seeking that elusive USGA title. At last year's Women's
Amateur, Park beat her, 2 and 1, while she lost a 1-up decision
to eventual champion Julieta Granada at the recently completed Girls'
Junior in Fort Worth, Texas.
Park, 17, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has also suffered two tough
championship-match defeats, the first to Nirapathpongporn, 2 and
1, in last year's Women's Amateur final, and the second to Granada
in 20 holes at the Girls' Junior.
other returning semifinalist is 16-year-old Korean-born In-Bee Park
of Henderson, Nev. Since winning the 2002 U.S. Girls' Junior at
the age of 14 (second-youngest champion), Park has come very close
to capturing a second USGA title, losing in the 2003 Girls' Junior
final (Sukjin-Lee Wuesthoff) and the semifinals of the 2003 Women's
Amateur (Nirapathpongporn) and 2004 Women's Amateur Public Links
(Ya-Ni Tseng). Park also had a top-10 finish at the LPGA event in
Las Vegas earlier this year.
course, many eyes will be on Wie, who will be competing in just
her second individual amateur competition of the season (she was
on the Curtis Cup team). Wie's bid to defend her WAPL title ended
with a championship-match loss to Tseng, 1 up. But the Honolulu,
Hawaii, resident posted a top-five finish at the LPGA's Kraft Nabisco
Championship this past spring and shared low-amateur honors with
Creamer at the Women's Open. Wie lost in the first round of the
Women's Amateur last year to 2002 Women's Amateur semifinalist Maru
Martinez, 1 up.
youngest competitor in the field is a player with a familiar last
name. Isabelle Lendl (Goshen, Conn.), one of five daughters of former
tennis star Ivan Lendl, actually qualified as a 12-year-old but
turned 13 July 29. She is one of two 13-year-olds in the field,
joining Kristina Wong of Vestal,
|All but four competitors in this year's
field weren't alive when Marlene Streit won the Women's Amateur
in 1956. (USGA photo archives)
oldest player in the field is reigning USGA Senior Women's Amateur
champion Marlene Streit of Canada, who became, at 69, the oldest
champion in USGA history. Now 70, Streit will compete in an event
that she won 48 years ago. She also will be inducted into the World
Golf Hall of Fame this November. Only four players in this year's
field were alive when Streit won the 1956 Women's Amateur.
of them is Carol Semple Thompson. She won the Women's Amateur in
1973 and is the only other past champion in the field. The 55-year-old
from Sewickley, Pa., will be competing in her 39th Women's Amateur
and 97th USGA championship overall.
U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur champions are entered, including reigning
champion Amber Marsh Elliott. The others in the field are Thompson,
Ellen Port, Virginia Grimes and Kathy Hartwiger.
stars are also well represented, including 2004 USA Curtis Cuppers
Sarah Huarte, Elizabeth Janangelo, Brittany Lang and Annie Thurman.
Huarte captured the individual NCAA Division I women's title this
past May in her swan song for the University of California-Berkeley.
Thurman, who will be a senior at Oklahoma State, won the 2001 Women's
Amateur Public Links title. Janangelo was honored by the National
Golf Coaches Association as its player of the year. Lang was a first-team
NGCA Al l-American this past season with Janangelo at Duke.
NGCA Division I All-Americans in the field are Charlotte Mayorkas
(first team), Irene Cho (second team), Nicole Hage (second team),
Leigh Anne Hardin (second team), Carolina Llano (second team), Kristen
White (second team), Beth Allen (honorable mention), Kailin Downs
(H.M.), Ashley Gomes (H.M.), Jessica Shepley (H.M.), Sophia Sheridan
(H.M.) and Jenny Suh (H.M.). Mayorkas helped UCLA to the team title.
14 competitors participated in this year's Women's Open, including
Wie, In-Bee Park, Jane Park, Creamer, Jennie Lee, Taylor Leon, Brittany
Lincicome, Megan Grehan, Amie Cochran, Kim Shin, Jennifer Ackerson,
Niloufar Aazam-Zanganeh, Tina Miller and Briana Vega.
Shefter is a staff writer with the USGA. E-mail him with questions
or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.