Wong, Harigae Lead Early Winners In First Round Of Match Play
Carmel, Ind. – Co-medalist Kristina Wong of Vestal, N.Y., and reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Mina Harigae of Monterey, Calif., led the group of early winners Wednesday in the first round of match play at the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur at hot and humid Crooked Stick Golf Club.
Wong, a high school junior-to-be, took a 2-up lead over after three holes and expanded it to 5-up with birdies on the 8th and 9th holes en route to a 5-and-3 win over Kaitlin Drolson of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. She never trailed in the match.
The temperature was expected to reach 97 degrees with the heat index reaching 108.
"I drank a bottle of water every two holes,” Wong said. “I just wanted to keep playing hard and keep from getting my guard down.
She was pleased to advance but quickly dispelled any importance to winning the qualifying medal.
"I know I have a long road ahead of me with a tough match (Thursday). I have to get my mindset ready,” Wong said. “It feels good but it doesn’t really matter now because it’s all match play.”
Harigae, 17, who played in the 2007 Women’s Open, dispatched Kristie Smith of Australia, 3 and 2. Harigae, who committed to Duke but will be a high school senior in the fall, jumped out to 4-up lead through four holes. She never trailed, although her lead slipped to just 1 up through nine holes.
"My putting saved me,” Harigae said. “I only hit one solid shot. I’m just glad my putting was there to help me.”
She relied upon the experience she has gained in playing in 16 USGA championships since she was 12 years old beginning at the 2002 Women’s Amateur Public Links,
"I tell myself that I’m a better player than this when I am playing bad,” she said. “And, I have beaten players I wouldn’t have imagined beating. I lost focus when I went only 1 up. I’m getting better at regaining my confidence and my mental stability.”
In other key morning matches, Vicky Hurst of Melbourne, Fla., the 2006 Girls’ Junior runner-up defeated Lisa McCloskey of Montgomery, Texas, 5 and 4; and Maria Uribe of Colombia came back to defeat Lee Lopez of Whittier, Calif., 1 up.
Co-medalist Stacy Lewis, 22, of The Woodlands, Texas, and 2006 champion Kimberly Kim had afternoon starting times.
Story written by Pete Kowalski, USGA media relations manager. E-mail him with questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.