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First-Round Win Keeps Beeler's Name In U.S. Women's Amateur

By Stuart Hall

St. Louis – Brooke Beeler is not about to get caught up in the name game. To her, Alexis Thompson, Kimberly Kim and Amy Anderson are just other competitors here at the 109th U.S. Women’s Amateur.

“They’re just like me, they’re a name,” said Beeler, 19, of Butler, Ill. “Every day is different and you never know what’s going to happen.”

In Wednesday’s opening-round of match play at Old Warson Country Club, Beeler was one of 32 names to advance to Thursday’s second round. The sophomore at Texas Christian University defeated Australian Julia Boland, 3 and 1.

Brooke Beeler is pumped after closing out Australian Julia Boland at the 17th hole in Wednesday's first round of the U.S. Women's Amateur. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)  

At age 23, Boland represented the oldest remaining player in the 64-player field — and one of the hottest internationally.

This spring, Boland won three major Australian amateur events, tied for sixth at the Irish Women’s Stroke Play Championship in June, won the Women’s Trans-National Golf Championship in Tennessee two weeks ago and tied for seventh at the Canadian Women's Amateur Championship last week.

That’s the type of résumé that might intimidate some opponents, but not Beeler, whose biggest title is the 2008 Illinois Women’s Amateur.

“I just knew her name, that she was from Australia, and that she shot two strokes better than me in stroke play,” said Beeler. “I don’t even know who I’m playing [Thursday], but that’s OK with me.”

Beeler eventually learned that 18-year-old Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif., an incoming freshman at UCLA, would be next up. Lua defeated 2006 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Jenny Shin, 16, of Torrance, Calif., 4 and 3.

Beeler was introduced to golf at age 6 by her brother, Adam, five years her senior. Her first competitive tournament came two years later at The State Journal-Register Drysdale where she won the first flight.

“Then I just fell in love with the game,” said Beeler, who remained a run-of-the-mill athletic girl playing soccer, baseball, hockey and volleyball. “I played them all, but I really loved golf, so I stuck with it.”

A four-time Illinois High School Association state qualifier and all-confernece player at Hillsboro High in Butler, Beeler’s prerequisite for college was that it be in the South. TCU fit that profile.

Her game is a continued work in progress. After a 96th-place tie in her first NCAA Women’s Championship in May, Beeler hooked up with Susan Formuth, a teaching professional at St. Louis Country Club, to work on her short game. 

“She’d just about out-work anybody,” said her father, Ben Beeler. “If she didn’t play well, she will go to the range and work until she figures out what was wrong.”

On Wednesday, there was work to be done after a leaky round against Boland.

“She wasn’t playing well, we both weren’t playing well, but I just found a way to get the ball in the hole,” said Beeler, who birdied the first and 17th holes, but in between “was up and down. I just couldn’t get anything going. I don’t know how I pulled it off, but I am happy with it.”

Given the usual match-play concessions, Beeler and Boland were four and nine over par, respectively, through 17 holes on the 6,422-yard Robert Trent Jones Sr. design. Three holes were either won or halved with bogeys.

Not pretty by any means, but good enough to advance. Name players such as Kim, the 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and a runner-up at this summer’s Women’s Amateur Public Links and U.S. Girls’ Junior, and Anderson, the recent U.S. Girls’ Junior winner, were eliminated on Wednesday.

“It’s the biggest tournament of my career,” said Beeler, whose only other USGA championship appearance was the 2008 WAPL, where she was eliminated in the first round. “I’m happy to make match play, I’m happy to win my first round. But tomorrow, I will come out focused and ready to play.”

And not worried about who the other name is on the standard.

Stuart Hall is a freelance writer whose previous work has appeared on USGA championship Web sites.



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: Old Warson Country Club will play at 6,422/6,468 yards and par of 35-36—71.

ARCHITECT: Old Warson Country Club was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and opened in 1954.

COURSE SET-UP –The USGA Course Rating® for the Women’s Amateur Championship at Old Warson Country Club is 78.1 and USGA Slope Rating® is 140.

Tees and fairways, height of grass – 7/16 inch

Collars, height of grass – 0.2 inch

Putting greens, speed – 11.5-12 feet on USGA Stimpmeter

Intermediate Rough – 1.25 inches (3 feet width)

Primary Rough – 3 inches

FORMAT: The U.S. 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 PLAY: The U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is open to female amateurs who have a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 5.4.

ENTRIES: A total of 955 contestants entered the 2009 championship. The record of 969 was set in 2006.



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