Notebook: Respiratory Infection Doesn't Slow Last Match-Play Qualifier Lewis
By David Shefter, USGA
St. Louis – The fact that Amelia Lewis is still competing in the 109th U.S. Women’s Amateur at Old Warson Country Club is a tribute to her perseverance and medical science.
On Monday, Lewis suffered what she called a respiratory infection that required a hospital visit. Doctors prescribed several medications and told the 18-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., resident to also take Claritin and Afrin.
“During the qualifying, I just wanted to quit after nine holes because I was so exhausted,” said Lewis. “But now it’s a lot better.”
Despite shooting 9-over 151 in stroke play, Lewis battled her way through a 6-for-1 playoff late Tuesday to earn the 64th and final spot in the match-play draw. And on Wednesday, Lewis’ good fortune continued when she ousted medalist Danielle Kang of Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2 and 1.
“I’m like on three different drugs,” said a fatigued Lewis, who planned to take it easy the rest of the day knowing she might have two matches on Thursday. “I’m trying to focus.”
Lewis is no stranger to facing the endurance test of a match-play championship. Last month, she won six matches en route to the prestigious North and South Women’s Amateur title at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina, where she beat Cydney Clanton in the 36-hole final. She also advanced to the third round of the Women’s Western Amateur earlier this summer.
On Tuesday, Lewis was at the course at 6 a.m. for her morning starting time, left at 1 p.m. to take an afternoon snooze and then returned at 5 p.m. to see where she stood. The two-hole playoff ended around 8:15 p.m. when she birdied the par-5 16th hole to edge Kristina Wong. The University of Florida incoming freshman was back at the course Wednesday for the 9:30 a.m. CDT match against Kang.
“At the start of the day I was fine,” said Lewis, whose mom, Gina, is serving as her caddie this week. “I was pumped. At the turn, I was still pumped. By the end, I had to take a lot of Power Bars and some Gatorade to keep me going.”
Frustrated by what had happened on the two previous holes – mainly poor drives – Kang reached into her bag at the 10th tee to pull out a different ball. Only it was a different brand and make from the one she started the match with. Had this been a friendly round of golf, the switch would have been perfectly legal. But the U.S. Women’s Amateur – like all USGA championships and qualifiers – adopts the One-Ball Rule as a Condition of the Competition. That means a competitor must start and finish the stipulated round with the same type of ball.
Lewis noticed the possible infraction and informed Kang. They brought in the walking Rules official, Bill Knox, who told Kang that it would be a loss-of-hole penalty if she switched.
“I was like, ‘Thank you,’ ” said Kang. “Usually people don’t do that. I forgot the [rule]. But I was OK with it.”
Lewis has tried to study up on the Rules and makes sure she reads the Memo to Competitors prior to every event. Two years ago, she attended a PGA-USGA Rules School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and took the test.
“It was hard,” she said of the notoriously difficult Rules exam. “I know I did not ace it.”
Marathon Match I
Jodi Ewart is a psychology major at the University of New Mexico and some of those classes might have helped the 21-year-old Englishwoman in her 25-hole first-round win over Mallory Fraiche of Metairie, La.
Ewart, a member of the 2008 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team, holed a 20-foot putt at the par-3 seventh hole to end the match. A hole earlier, Fraiche, a 2009 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier, missed a 4-foot birdie putt that would have given her the win.
“I literally thought we would be out there all night,” said Ewart. “You really have to keep mentally strong, especially with this heat. You’ve got to keep drinking lots of water.”
While this was Ewart’s longest-ever match, she has a wealth of international experience. She played on England’s 2008 Women’s World Amateur Team Championship squad and has represented her country five times at the European Team Championships. She helped England to a silver medal this year. She also played in the Vagliano Trophy, a Curtis Cup-style competition between Great Britain and Ireland and continental Europe. Her squad lost two weeks ago, 13-11.
“It definitely helps coming into something like this,” said Ewart, who will be a senior at UNM this fall. “We play a lot of match play.”
Marathon Match II
Forgive Taylore Karle for not exactly knowing how many holes she played in her first-round victory. With temperatures soaring into the low-90s and the humidity close to 70 percent, it was quite easy to lose count.
“I think we went 26 [holes],” said the 19-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., resident when probed by a reporter. “Oh sorry, you can tell I’ve been out in the sun.”
For the record, Karle needed 25 holes to eliminate Kendra Little of Eugene, Ore., holing a 10-foot downhill left-to-right breaking birdie putt at the par-3 seventh.
It was the second match to go 25 on Wednesday, following Ewart’s win over Fraiche. Karle missed a chance to end it at the 19th hole when her 8-foot birdie putt slid by the hole. She squared the match at No. 17 and got up and down for par from 30 yards out at the 18th hole, making a 5-footer to extend the match.
“Today was a grind-out day,” said Karle, a junior-to-be at Pepperdine University.
Being from Arizona, Karle is accustomed to playing in triple-digit summer temperatures, although the desert never gets this sticky.
“Actually, I would rather have the humidity versus being in a tanning bed with air,” said Karle.
A daily workout regimen that includes 36 holes of golf has Karle physically and mentally ready for the long week.
“Oh yeah, I can go 36 plus nine tomorrow,” said Karle. “Come on. I always can go until I win.”
Canadian players have enjoyed some success at recent U.S. Women’s Amateurs. A year ago at Eugene (Pa.) Country Club, four Canadians advanced to match play. This year, three Canadians – Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Sara-Maude Juneau and Stephanie Sherlock – made the cut and a fourth, Kira Miexner, was in the 6-for-1 playoff late Tuesday for the final match-play spot.
After the victory, LeBlanc said she enjoys USGA championships because she rarely gets to play in match-play events at home. Case in point, last week’s Canadian Amateur in New Brunswick was a 72-hole, stroke-play competition.
She also welcomes the opportunity to match her game against the game’s best.
“The field is the best players in the U.S. and it’s good to see how you do compared to other great players,” said LeBlanc, who shared Big 10 Conference individual honors with Purdue teammate Maria Hernandez in April. Hernandez won the NCAA Division I individual title in late May.
For the second straight USGA championship, Jessica Korda finished a stroke out of being the medalist. While winning the medal and being the top seed is nice, the 16-year-old Bradenton, Fla., resident said it’s not that big of a deal. A few hours before Korda finished, medalist Kang was ousted by Lewis, 2 and 1.
“At the end of the day, you are still playing against one opponent,” said Korda, a 1-up winner over Sara Grantham of Wilsonville, Ala. “Winning stroke play, honestly, doesn’t put you ahead of everyone else.”
Korda went ahead for good in her match by chipping in from 22 yards for eagle at the par-5 16th hole. This came after a three-putt bogey from 9 feet at the 286-yard par-4 14th hole and a winning par at No. 15 that got the match back to all square.
“I really grinded today,” said Korda, who has made the cut in the past two U.S. Women’s Opens, shooting final-round 69s both years. “My putts, everything was like a roll short going into the hole. I had so many putts like that today.”
David Shefter is a USGA Digital Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.