Mackenzie Takes Early Lead In First Round
North Plains, Ore. – Local favorite Paige Mackenzie, 23, of Yakima, Wash., fired a first-round 69 Monday to take the lead among early finishers in qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the 6,380-yard, par-71 Witch Hollow Course of Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
Mackenzie used the momentum from her recent strong play as a member of the winning USA Curtis Cup team to carry her to the 2-under-par round. She led Mari Chun, 18, of Pearl City, Hawaii, 2005 U.S. Girls’ Junior Champion In Kyung Kim, 18, of Korea, and Ya-Ni Tseng, 17, of Chinese Taipei, by one stroke.
Playing in front of local fans helped her.
“I’ve done well at home,” said Mackenzie. “We hosted junior and college regionals and nationals and I felt really excited about coming home.”
Mackenzie struggled a bit off the tee but managed five birdies on the day, sinking four putts in the 11- to 20-foot range. “I putted very well at the Curtis Cup too, and I have a lot more confidence,” said Mackenzie, who earned first-team All-America honors in her final season at the University of Washington this past year. “It’s the kind of mind-set of being relaxed and trusting the line.”
Tseng is an overwhelmingly long hitter who hit her tee shot into the greenside bunker of the 387-yard, par-4 13th hole and made a birdie, one of five on the day. The 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, who defeated Michelle Wie in that final, said being a USGA champion helped her confidence this morning.
“It helps a lot,” said Tseng. “But, it’s not only winning the Public Links. During the summer I’ve played four or five tournaments and this is the final one, so I’m ready for it.”
Tseng sported a bandage on her right forearm. She twisted a tendon in her arm prior to the Women's Amateur Public Links in June and donned the bandage Monday as a precaution after hitting a bunker shot from a buried lie on the 15th hole.
Chun’s mother, Lani Chun, was her caddie and kept her daughter relaxed. “She’s a comedienne and she tells funny jokes while I play,” said Mari Chun, a sophomore-to-be at Stanford University. A co-medalist in the 2004 U.S. Girls’ Junior and 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, Chun says she’s not surprised at how adept she is at stroke play. “It’s just that I really try to prepare my best and try to make sure that I qualify for match play,” she said. “This year I got a new instructor, Sean Lanyi, and basically I’ve been camping out at the golf course.”
Kim double-bogeyed the fourth hole but bounced back with birdies at the fifth, eighth and 18th holes. “I played pretty well,” said Kim, “but I had some mistakes and some bad breaks.”
Qualifying continues Monday afternoon with the second stroke-play round scheduled for Tuesday. The low 64 qualifiers advance to match play with a 36-hole scheduled final on Sunday.
Story written by Rhonda Glenn, Manager of USGA Communications. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.