32 Players Survive Stifling Heat, Opponents to Advance in Kentucky

Recapping USGA Girls Junior Championship Day Three
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 7:03 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - If the intensity and pressure of trying to advance out of the Round of 64 on Wednesday at the 73rd U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship wasn’t enough for the competitors, the stifling temperatures that reached the low 90s only added to the anxiety.

Never has the term “sweating out a match” been more appropriate than at The Club at Olde Stone on a steamy mid-July day in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Water bottles, sports drinks, cold towels, umbrellas and sunscreen were just as important for the players as their 56-degree wedges, drivers, putters and hybrids. Given the area was in a Weather Alert 1 for extreme heat, caddies were even given the option not to wear USGA bibs. Most, however, chose to wear them.

The steamy conditions – the heat index was measured as high as 115 – was not uncommon to The Club at Olde Stone member Kynadie Adams, one of 32 players to earn a tee time on Thursday with a 3-and-2 win over Katie Cranston, of Canada.

Those from northern locales or the West Coast have had to adjust.

“I have been here since June, so I think my body is getting a little bit more used to it, if that can happen,” said Justice Bosio, of Australia, a 6-and-5 winner over Kristina Xu on Wednesday. “But yeah, definitely getting off the golf course a bit quicker today was a bit of an advantage coming into tomorrow, getting a little bit more rest.”

Co-medalist and No. 1 seed Saki Baba, of Japan, and 2021 U.S. Girls’ Junior semifinalist Katie Li, of Basking Ridge, N.J., had little difficulty advancing. Three other quarterfinalists from last year, Kaitlyn Schroeder, of Jacksonville, Fla., Yana Wilson, of Henderson, Nev., and Bailey Shoemaker, of Dade City, Fla., also moved on.

“Honestly, it’s been hot,” said Schroeder, accustomed to Florida summers, after eliminating the last remaining Kentucky resident, Trinity Beth, of Calvert City, 3 and 2. “But it’s been a lot hotter for other people I would say than it has been for me. I can use that to my advantage of being used to this type of weather for sure.”

Baba, No. 44 in the latest Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking®, cruised to a 6-and-4 win over Brynn Kort. The 2022 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier (T-49) needs five more victories to become the second player from Japan to win a USGA championship. Michiko Hattori won the 1985 U.S. Women’s Amateur a year after losing in the U.S. Girls’ Junior final.

But the other co-medalist, second-seeded Natalie Vo, of San Jose, Calif., wasn’t so fortunate. The rising sophomore at the University of Colorado was knocked out by 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball champion and Wednesday morning playoff survivor Thienna Huynh, of Lilburn, Ga., 4 and 3. It’s the first time in six years that a medalist/co-medalist failed to advance out of the first round. Huynh’s Four-Ball partner, Sara Im, of Duluth, Ga., also advanced, 3 and 1, over fellow Georgian Reagan Southerland.

Adams, 18, of Nashville, Tenn., turned her match around during a three-hole stretch from No. 9 in what was a tight match to that point. The incoming University of Alabama freshman ripped a 5-hybrid from the rough to 5 feet on the 486-yard par-5 ninth to set up a winning eagle that tied the match, and a chip-in birdie on No. 10 gave her the lead for good. She followed that with a 50-foot birdie to win the par-5 11th.

This was Adams’ first USGA individual match-play victory after falling in the Round of 64 in her two other U.S. Girls’ Junior starts.

“It can definitely be frustrating [for an opponent],” said Adams of those three consecutive wins in the middle of the match. “But it was nice being on the other side of it.

“It feels pretty good. It’s something that I’ve been waiting to do for a long time … to be able to win [a match]. I did that, and now it’s just on to the next match.”

The hopes of a Kentucky champion ended when Schroeder ousted Beth, a 15-year-old high school freshman who lives just two hours from this year’s site. But after losing the ninth with a three-putt par and the 11th to a birdie that tied the match, the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball runner-up regained the lead by draining a 12-foot birdie on No. 13, then added a birdie on 15 and par on 16 to close out the match.

The most dramatic match on Wednesday saw Samantha Olson, 17, of Phoenix, Ariz., outlast Vanessa Zhang, 15, of Canada, in 23 holes, which matched the fifth-longest in championship history. Olson stuffed an 8-iron from 150 yards on the 389-yard fifth hole to 2 feet, which was eventually conceded for a winning birdie when Zhang failed to get up and down for par.

“Yeah, it was hard,” said Olson, who is used to high temperatures during the summer in Arizona, just not the humidity. “I played a tournament in Tennessee a couple weeks ago and it was 118 heat index, so this … wasn’t quite as bad as that. I’m very thankful for that tournament because it kind of helped me prepare for this. But yeah, it was grueling.”

Get used to these conditions. The forecast for the next three days of the championship is calling for similar heat and humidity.

Survive and advance never meant so much.

What’s Next

The Round of 32 and Round of 16 will be contested on Thursday with the first match off at 7 a.m. CDT. The Round of 16 is scheduled to commence at 12:45 p.m. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be staged on Friday and the 36-hole championship match on Saturday, starting at 7 a.m. Golf Channel is broadcasting live on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT and on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Notable

  • The 9-for-7 playoff for the final spots in the draw lasted three holes and just over an hour with Brynn Kort, 14, of Henderson, Nev., garnering the last spot with a birdie on the par-4 14th hole.
  • Four of the seven playoff survivors won Round-of-64 matches. Besides Thienna Huynh, Kylee Choi defeated No. 5 seed Catherine Park; Charissa Shang defeated No. 7 seed Alexa Siehl; and Jennifer Seo eliminated 2021 quarterfinalist Karen Tsuru.
  • Two other matches went extra holes. Maria Jose Marin outlasted Chun Wei Wu in 21 holes, and Emily Mathews needed 19 holes to defeat Kylie Chong.
  • The youngest match-play qualifier was Asterisk Talley, 13, of Chowchilla, Calif. She advanced with a 3-and-2 victory over Kary Hollenbaugh.
  • In terms of countries, the USA led the way with 50 match-play qualifiers followed by Canada (5), Chinese Taipei (3), Japan (2), Australia (1), the People’s Republic of China (1), Colombia (1) and New Zealand (1).
  • Justice Bosio’s caddie this week is fellow Australian Stephanie Na, who was a co-medalist in the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club. Na reached the quarterfinals that week.
  • Nikki Oh, of Torrance, Calif., who was eliminated on Wednesday, has quite a golf pedigree. Her father, Ted Oh, qualified for the 1993 U.S. Open as a 16-year-old, becoming the youngest to do so in 50 years. Oh also was the medalist in the 1993 U.S. Junior Amateur, losing to eventual champion Tiger Woods in the semifinals at Waverley Country Club in Portland, Ore. Now an instructor, Oh has worked with the likes of former world No. 1 Lydia Ko.

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