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Two Anteaters Enjoy Women's Amateur Spotlight

Wins By Chin, Henderson Provide Some Respect For UCI, Big West

By David Shefter, USGA

Eugene, Ore. – The schools are only separated by some 40 miles of congested southern California freeway traffic, but when it comes to notoriety and reputation, they might as well be across the ocean.

UCLA and the University of Southern California each compete in the bigger – and arguably – more powerful Pacific-10 Conference, while UC Irvine can be construed as the ugly stepsister in the less-profile Big West without the mega-bucks television contracts or the splashy front-of-the-sports-page headlines.

But the school with a unique nickname (Anteaters) did a little devouring Wednesday in the first round of match play at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Jane Chin of Mission Viejo, Calif., a fifth-year senior at UCI, and recent graduate Selanee Henderson of Apple Valley, Calif., eliminated a UCLA Bruin and USC Trojan, respectively.

Chin vanquished two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion and 2008 USA Curtis Cupper Tiffany Joh of San Diego, 1 up, while Henderson beat incoming USC freshman and 2008 WAPL runner-up Jennifer Song of Korea, 2 and 1.

“I’m having a really good day,” said UCI women’s golf coach Julie Brooks, who is caddieing for Henderson. “People are like, ‘Oh there should be a crowd signing up to go to Irvine. It’s awesome. It’s great for our program.”

Last month, UCI’s John Chin – unrelated – advanced to the final of the U.S. Amateur Public Links and now two Anteaters are through to the round of 32 at the Women’s Amateur.

“This is a pretty big win because Tiffany won Publinx [this] year,” said Chin. “In college tournaments we all play together. It doesn’t really matter what conference you’re from. It’s not that big of deal.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Henderson, a 2007 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier who skipped last year’s Women’s Amateur to play in the World University Games in Thailand.

“I think we’re all at the highest level and we all got here somehow regardless of what school we go to,” said Henderson. “[But] there’s no doubt [our wins] will be good for the program.”

Chin, a childhood rival of Joh on the southern California junior circuit, redshirted this past season to work on her swing in hopes of someday turning pro. In order to come back for a fifth season, she needed to add a psychology minor to her major of criminology. By the time she graduates, Chin might have a better understanding of how the criminal mind works.

On Wednesday, her mind focused on beating Joh, the runner-up at the 2008 NCAAs and a first-team All-American. The back-and-forth match saw Joh rally from 2 down to square it at No. 16. But at the par-4 18th hole, Joh lipped out a 6-foot par putt and Chin converted hers from 4 feet.

“She’s a solid player and she deserved that win today,” said a gracious Joh. “It’s unfortunate the way it ended but I have to give myself a little pat on the back for how I played coming down the back nine.”

Joh, who just finished up taking finals for the first semester of summer school, now heads back for another session. In fact, she missed the first few days by competing here this week. “I got a couple of ugly e-mails from my professors,” she said.

Henderson completed her schoolwork in the spring and plans to turn pro after this week’s championship. A winner of six college events, including the 2006 Big West championship, Henderson said her game has come full circle since she got “burnt out” after the ’07 Women’s Open. While she only made one birdie against Song, her consistent ball-striking proved to be enough to earn a second-round match with Ellen Mueller.

“I’m striking my irons really well right now,” said Henderson. “Just none of my putts fell today. Being out of school, I have more time [to practice]. My only weak club has been my driver. I have to figure out not to swing so aggressive to keep it down the middle.”

As for Chin, Brooks said the key has been getting her to believe that she belongs with the country’s elite players. And, perhaps, the year away from college competition has paid dividends.

“We’re very excited,” said Brooks of having Chin back for one more season.

On Thursday, the challenge goes up again. She meets 18-year-old Stephanie Kono of Honolulu, Hawaii, a semifinalist at the 2008 WAPL and ’07 U.S. Girls’ Junior.

Who just happens to be headed this fall to UCLA.

David Shefter is a USGA New Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at dshefter@usga.org.

 

 

 

 
Championship Facts

U.S. Women's Amateur

HISTORY: The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of the United States Golf Association’s original three championships. It was first conducted in 1895, shortly after the inaugural U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open. The Women’s Amateur has since been conducted every year except 1917-18, when it was temporarily suspended because of World War I, and 1942-45, when it was suspended because of World War II.

PAR & YARDAGE: Yardage for the Eugene Country Club will be set at 6,484 (stroke play) / 6,516 (match play) yards, par 72.

ARCHITECT: Opened in 1926, the course was designed by H. Chandler Egan. In 1967, Robert Trent Jones Sr. reversed the routing of the original Egan design (i.e., No. 18 tee essentially became the first tee, etc.).

COURSE SET-UP –
Fairways – Cut to ˝ inch
Tees and collars of greens – Cut to 3/8 inch
Putting greens – Prepared to be firm and fast to measure approximately 11 to 11 1/2 feet on the USGA Stimpmeter
Intermediate rough – Cut to 1 ˝ inches, approximately 6 feet wide along fairways
Primary rough – Cut to 2 ˝ to 3 inches
Player courtesy walks – Cut to 1 ˝ inches, approximately 6 feet wide
The championship setup results in a USGA Course Rating™ of 78.1 and a Slope Rating® of 144

FORMAT: The Women’s Amateur is conducted with 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying. The low 64 scorers then advance to match play, with the champion determined by a 36-hole match-play final.

WHO CAN ENTER: The championship is open to female amateurs who have USGA handicap indexes not exceeding 5.4.

ENTRIES: Entries for the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur closed on June 18. There were 960 entries received for the 2008 championship, just shy of the record 969 entries received for the 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur.

 

 
 

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