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Johnson, Lua, Song, Thompson Advance To U.S. Women's Amateur Semifinals

St. Louis, Mo. – After her quarterfinal victory at the 109th U.S. Women’s Amateur Friday at Old Warson Country Club, Jennifer Song still wasn’t ready to say she was thinking about making history.

Song, 19, from Ann Arbor, Mich., who won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in June, is trying to become the second female in history to win two USGA championships in the same year. Pearl Sinn won the Women’s Amateur and Women’s Amateur Public Links in 1988.

“That was obviously in my head but I'm not thinking about that right now,” said Song, who also earned low-amateur honors at the U.S. Women’s Open last month. “I'm just trying to play one match at a time and focus on whatever is in front of me.”

Alexis Thompson rallied from an early three-hole deficit to post a 1-up win over Han Jungeun in Friday's U.S. Women's Amateur quarterfinals. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)  

Song, who will be a sophomore at the University of Southern California, kept her hopes alive with a 2-and-1 quarterfinal win over Stephanie Kono, 19, of Honolulu, Hawaii, on Old Warson’s par-71, 6,468-yard layout. Despite the victory, Song wasn’t completely pleased with her play.

“It was like a B-minus game,” said Song, who was the equivalent of two over par with the usual match-play concessions against Kono. “I wasn't happy about it.  My shots were just all over the place, and I just told myself that, ‘Jennifer, if you're not hitting great, just get up there, swing confidently and that's all you can do today.’ It just turned out well today.”

Song’s semifinal opponent will be Tiffany Lua, 18, of Rowland Heights, Calif., who never trailed Friday against 16-year-old Jessica Korda of Bradenton, Fla. Lua won the first hole with a par and built a 4-up lead after nine holes en route to a 3-and-2 victory.

Lua, an incoming freshman at UCLA, said she was surprised to build an early lead against the long-hitting Korda, who has made the cut at the last two U.S. Women’s Opens.

“I've known Jessica for a few years now and I know she's a strong player,” said Lua, competing in her fourth Women’s Amateur. “I tried my best to capitalize, and I did. But it is match play and I just hung on there, and I think it happened. I just did my best to hold on.”

Alexis Thompson, 14, of Coral Springs, Fla., fell down quickly to 16-year-old Han Jungeun of Korea, losing three of the first four holes. But Thompson chipped away at the lead, winning the sixth with a par and No. 10 with a birdie.

“After I got three down, I said, ‘OK, I need to start making some birdies,’ ” said Thompson, the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. “She’s a great putter and a great player.”

Thompson squared the match with a conceded birdie on the 15th hole and it looked like she might take her first lead when she birdied the par-5 16th. But Jungeun made a 12-footer for birdie to match and remain all square.

After the two traded bogeys on No. 17, the match came to the par-4 18th. Thompson nestled her chip from just short of the green to within a foot, which was conceded. When Jungeun slid her 4-foot par putt just right of the hole, Thompson escaped with a 1-up victory.

“I thought for sure that she was going to make that putt,” said Thompson of Jungeun’s putt on the final hole. “I was expecting to go to 1. I mean, I don't know how she missed it. Maybe because she just -- she sort of backed away a lot. But I figured she would have made it with her eyes closed.”

Thompson is chasing history as well – she would be the youngest Women’s Amateur winner in the championship’s 109-year history. She is also trying to become the seventh in history to claim the Girls’ Junior and Women’s Amateur. Her semifinal opponent will be Jennifer Johnson, 18, of La Quinta, Calif., who advanced with a decisive 5-and-4 victory over Candace Schepperle, 21, of Birmingham, Ala.

In her four matches during the championship, Johnson, an incoming freshman at Arizona State University, has yet to trail through 58 holes. Starting at No. 4, she won three four in a five-hole stretch against Schepperle to take control.

“It's been nice, getting up early and having the lead,” said Johnson. “But I don't think this week's been too easy.  It's been pretty mentally exhausting.  Yesterday I was really tired last night after 32 holes.  I think I've just got to get good rest tonight and I think I'll be ready for tomorrow.”

The 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur continues with the semifinal matches Saturday. The championship’s 36-hole 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.

St. Louis – Results from the quarterfinal round of match play Friday at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur being conducted at the 6,468-yard, par-71 Old Warson Country Club:


Upper Bracket

Jennifer Johnson, La Quinta, Calif. (147) def. Candace Schepperle, Birmingham, Ala. (148), 5 and 4

Alexis Thompson, Coral Springs, Fla. (150) def. Han Jungeun, Korea (146), 1 up

Lower Bracket

Tiffany Lua, Rowland Heights, Calif. (142) def. Jessica Korda, Bradenton, Fla. (139), 3 and 2

Jennifer Song, Ann Arbor, Mich. (146) def. Stephanie Kono, Honolulu, Hawaii (147), 2 and 1

St. Louis – Pairings and starting times for the semifinal round of match play Saturday at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur being conducted at the 6,468-yard, par-71 Old Warson Country Club (All times CDT):


Upper Bracket

9:30 a.m.          Jennifer Johnson, La Quinta, Calif. (147) vs. Alexis Thompson, Coral Springs, Fla. (150)

Lower Bracket

9:45 a.m.          Tiffany Lua, Rowland Heights, Calif. (142) vs. Jennifer Song, Ann Arbor, Mich. (146)



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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