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Walshe Leads Midway Through First Round

 

Eugene, Ore. – Alison Walshe, 23, of Westford, Mass., shot a 4-under-68 to take a two-stroke lead midway through Monday’s first round of stroke play at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, being played at the 6,484-yard, par-72 Eugene Country Club.

Walshe made three consecutive 10-foot birdie putts, starting at the par-4 15th hole, to power her round. She compiled seven birdies and three bogeys to finish two strokes ahead of the trio of Christine Song, 17, of Fullerton, Calif., Whitney Neuhauser, 20, of Barboursville, Va., and Carlota Ciganda, 18, of Spain.

“It’s just feels great to play well,” said Walshe, who is playing in her third U.S. Women’s Amateur. “I mean, I love this tournament. They always set it up tough so to play well on a course like this feels great.”

Walshe hasn’t played many events this summer but when she has they have been high-profile. She finished an undefeated 4-0 to help lead the USA to victory at the Curtis Cup Match played on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland earlier this summer, and then made the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn., in late June. Outside of playing in the Women’s North & South Amateur Championship at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort’s No. 2 Course, she has spent the last few weeks at home in Massachusetts.

“I’ve just been practicing a lot and grinding on my short game, which was key here,” she said. “That’s pretty much why I scored well today.”

Despite her recent successes, Walshe admitted to some anxiety heading into Monday’s first round at Eugene.

“I was a little nervous, to be honest,” said Walshe. “I think I put a lot of pressure on myself and I came out here in the practice rounds and I was like, ‘Man, this course is tough.’ I kind of psyched myself out, but I was trying to go the other way last night, I was like, ‘Oh I can score well,’ and then I started out with two birdies today and that just got my mindset in the right place and I was more comfortable playing off of that.

“I still have to go out there and still try to score as low as I can, but I am obviously in a little more comfortable spot, knowing I don’t have to score real low tomorrow to try to make the cut, and obviously that’s the goal, to make match play, because then anything can happen.”

Song’s 2-under 70 put her in good position for her goal coming into the week.

“I just wanted to make the cut and I think I should do that, so I’m pretty happy,” said Song, who is playing in her second Women’s Amateur. She did advance to match play in her previous Women’s Amateur appearance, in 2006 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore., about two hours north of Eugene.

Despite finishing with a bogey on the par-4 ninth hole, the 18th of her round, Song was pleased with her 2-under round on Eugene’s difficult layout.

“My shots were okay but I was putting it really well today, which is very important,” said Song. “It’s really fast and there is a lot of break and a lot of these greens are two-tiered so that makes it difficult.”

Ciganda also played in the 2006 Women’s Amateur at Pumpkin Ridge, where she advanced to the third round. At Eugene Monday, she opened with two bogeys but came back to record a 2-under 70.

“I was playing good,” said Ciganda, the 2007 British Women’s Amateur champion. “I think I just started a little bit nervous but then I started playing well. Then I made three birdies and I was more relaxed.”

Ciganda is one of the few players in the field who is not using a caddie, but it didn’t seem to slow her down.

“I think when you have a caddie he is going to help because you are more concentrated on your game,” said Ciganda. “But we are used to not having a caddie. I prefer to have a caddie but if that is not possible, no problem.”

Neuhauser does have a caddie for the championship – her mother, Susan. Neuhauser, the lone Women’s Amateur rookie among the leaders, recorded four birdies and two bogeys en route to her 70.

The 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kimberly Kim, 16, of Pahoa, Hawaii, opened with a 10-over 82 and will have her work cut out for her if she hopes to make the cut to match play. Kim became the youngest winner in the championship’s history when she won at age 14 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club two years ago.

The field’s remaining 78 players, including 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up Amanda Blumenherst, 22, of Scottsdale, Ariz., will finish their first round Monday afternoon. After a second day of stroke play Tuesday, the U.S. Women’s Amateur field will be reduced to 64 players for match play. The first round of match play is scheduled for Wednesday, the second and third rounds will be played Thursday and the quarterfinal matches are on Friday. The semifinals will be played Saturday and the 36-hole championship final will be played Sunday.


The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Story written by Beth Murrison of USGA Media Relations. For questions or comments, contact her at bmurrison@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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