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.
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.
“Get a lot of sleep tonight.” – 2021 quarterfinalist Kaitlyn Schroeder on preparing for a potential 36-hole day on Thursday
“There's confidence. There's [also] a little bit of nervousness, just because you know that people are watching you. They're going to look at your name and see how you're doing. I don't think it's added pressure, but I think that's just something that I think about sometimes.” – Thienna Huynh on trying to win a second USGA title in 2022 after capturing the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball in April
“I had to train my brain, and it took a long time to get to where I am today. I don't know, I'm just really good at keeping myself calm, and I know I can make birdies, make pars, make what I need to [make] to play well. I trust that as much as I can, and I keep myself patient and just trust my game.” – Samantha Olson on staying focused in challenging weather conditions
“I drank quite a lot of water. Just making sure you get your electrolytes in, good stretching, good rest, good recovery, and then you'll be ready for the next round.” – Justice Bosio on dealing with the heat
“I've had a lot of people come out, a lot of friends and family. It's been great seeing everybody out here. It's special, they don't get to watch a ton of golf, so it's nice.” – The Club at Olde Stone member Kynadie Adams on the support she’s receiving
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.