Blumenherst Taking Alternative Approach To Match Play At Women's Amateur
By Stuart Hall
Carmel, Ind. – Amanda Blumenherst is of a different frame of mind for this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
Figuring her old approach to match play was not producing the results she would prefer, Blumenherst is taking a stroke-play-only mindset into match play, which starts Wednesday at Crooked Stick Golf Club.
“The other way just wasn’t working,” said Blumenherst, who has advanced to the third round only once in six previous USGA amateur championship appearances (U.S. Girls’ Junior, U.S. Women’s Amateur and Women’s Amateur Public Links). She also went 1-2 in last year’s Curtis Cup Match at Pacific Dunes.
After getting bounced in the second round of the WAPL in June, Blumenherst, 20, of Scottsdale, Ariz., ditched the old philosophy in time for the Women's North and South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort early last month.
The result was a third-place finish in stroke play and then an easy jaunt to the match-play semifinals before losing to 2006 Curtis Cup teammate Jenny Suh, 3 and 2.
“Stroke play is really kind of my baby, I guess,” said Blumenherst, the reigning two-time National Player of the Year and a rising junior at Duke University, where she never finished outside the top 10 in her 10 tournament starts last season.
“So if I can apply stroke play to match play then I’m going to be fine. Match play is a different kind of golf game. Sometimes it’s easy to play the person you’re playing and not the golf course.”
Blumenherst nearly played herself out of this championship Monday. She found herself four over through 12 holes before the second of the day’s three weather delays forced her off the course. Normally not a fan of delays, Blumenherst took the opportunity to regroup.
When played resumed Tuesday morning with her halfway through the 13th hole, she bogeyed the par 3 to reach five over. She then birdied three of the final five holes for a 3-over 75.
“I wasn’t worried about it all,” said Blumenherst about the prospect of missing the match-play cut. “I knew it was a fluke to be five over after 13. I knew I was going to turn it around and get my act together.”
Blumenherst followed the 75 with a 1-under 71 in Tuesday’s scheduled second round to comfortably advance into the 64-player draw at 2-over 146.
Blumenherst spent all or parts of eight years growing up in Ft. Wayne, nearly two hours northeast of Carmel, so this is essentially a home game. But not that Blumenherst has any external pressures.
Among those in the gallery this week are her parents, grandparents, three sets of aunts and uncles, her brother, sister and seven cousins. Uncle Bill Blumenherst is toting her bag, and Amanda is staying with her maternal grandparents.
And while this week marks the official end of Blumenherst's summer schedule, which included a second consecutive U.S. Women's Open appearance, there will remain one personally prestigious tournament next Monday.
The sixth Blumie Open, a gathering of 20 extended family members ranging from grandparents to a her 6-year-old cousin, will be held at Autumn Ridge Golf Club in Ft. Wayne.
“Hard to say,” joked Blumenherst about whether there is more pressure to win this week or at the Blumie Open. Then on Tuesday, Blumenherst’s boyfriend, Nate Frieman, a first baseman for the Blue Devils’ baseball team, meets the family for the first time.
“So I’m getting a lot of teasing about that,” she said.
There is nothing funny, though, about Blumenherst being considered a serious contender to win this week. She admits her appreciation for match play is growing, but that she has yet to completely embrace the format.
“I’m trying to say this is fun,” she said, “[I’m] trying to tease myself a little.”
If Blumenherst can only trick her mind until Sunday afternoon, she might just end up hoisting the Robert Cox Cup.
Stuart Hall is a freelance writer for the Golf Press Association whose work has previously appeared on USGA championship Web sites.