Silent Treatment Working Loud, Clear For Semifinalist Blumenherst
By Stuart Hall
Carmel, Ind. – There was a time when Amanda Blumenherst had no issue with talking to opponents during a round. In February, though, she came to the realization that maybe the practice was becoming detrimental, especially in match play.
“I was putting the other girls almost in a comfort zone because I was talking with them, where now I'm just going to stick to my game,” said Blumenherst.
The vow of silence appears to be working quite well, even against Duke teammate Jennie Lee in Friday’s quarterfinals at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
After a pre-match hug, Blumenherst went out and silenced Lee with a 5-and-4 victory at Crooked Stick Golf Club.
And while 20-year-old Blumenherst advanced to her first semifinal in a USGA championship, Lee lost her third consecutive quarterfinal match at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
“At least I’m being consistent and it’s good to get to this point,” said Lee. “I’m not taking steps back, but it would be nice to get past this round just once.”
Blumenherst reeled off six birdies in 14 holes, including four straight beginning with the 493-yard, par-5 ninth. Early on Lee knew that she was in for a tussle.
“She’s a great player and when she is playing her best, she’s just really hard to beat,” said the 20-year-old Lee. “I’m well aware of how well she can play.”
Lee and Blumenherst have been through a lot together. Separated in age by just two days, they have been teammates on two national championship teams at Duke, and were on the 2006 USA Curtis Cup and Women’s World Amateur teams.
Buoyed by a large backing of friends and family, Blumenherst took control of the match with birdies at the 384-yard, par-4 second and the 167-yard, par-3 third. Lee won the sixth hole with a par, but Blumenherst further asserted herself by winning holes eight through 12 for a 6-up lead. Lee won the 13th with a birdie before Blumenherst closed the match at 14.
While the strength of Blumenherst’s game has been tee to green, the two-time national player of the year is becoming a more confident putter.
“My long irons and my driver have always been the strength of my game, and it's always been the putter that's given me a lot of trouble,” she said. “It's not so much my stroke, it's my reading greens, and now my uncle has helped with that. So it's been very helpful.”
Her uncle, Bill Blumenherst, the club pro at Autumn Ridge Golf Club in Ft. Wayne, Ind., is serving as Amanda’s caddie this week. The experience, while not the first time, is proving extremely beneficial.
“He's helped me quite a bit, learning different ways to read… I know if it breaks right to left, but how much,” she said. “It's really given me something to learn throughout this tournament, as well.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the field is learning that Blumenherst is blossoming into a strong match-play competitor. Admittedly not her favorite format, Blumenherst is putting previous failures behind her.
At the North and South Women’s Championship last month, Blumenherst advanced to the semifinals before losing to Jenny Suh. Blumenherst avenged that loss with a 5-and-4 victory in Thursday’s second round and will now meet defending champion Kimberly Kim, 15, of Hilo, Hawaii, in Saturday’s semifinals.
“I mean, the last four matches, I've just really been playing my game, one shot, one hole at a time,” she said.
When asked if she felt intimidating, Blumenherst chuckled.
“I don't think so, but maybe I could be,” she said. “Well, I walk quite a bit faster than the other girls, and so I think that could– if you're always looking at the back of me, that could be a little intimidating.”
And Blumenherst is proving this week, so can silence.
Stuart Hall is a freelance writer with the Golf Press Association whose work has previously appeared on USGA championship Web sites.