With the two rounds of stroke play now in the books, the focus at the 73rd U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at The Club at Olde Stone can now turn to the 64 players involved in the knockout stages. Over the next four days, six rounds of match play will be contested to determine the next name to be engraved on the Glenna Collett Vare Trophy. The winner will join legendary champions such as Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Hollis Stacy, Nancy Lopez, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson and last month’s U.S. Women’s Open champion Minjee Lee.
It’s a grueling test of physical and mental fortitude, but the payoff at the conclusion of Saturday’s 36-hole final is enormous. The champion will earn a spot in the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links as well as exemptions into the next two U.S. Women’s Amateurs, starting with next month’s event at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
Golf Channel will broadcast live the last two days, showing the semifinals on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT and the championship match on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT.
So as the Round of 64 is set to commence, here are 3 Things to Know:
Mapping strategy, executing shots and minimizing mistakes are all key intangibles for a successful match-play run. But another element will play a major role: extreme heat and humidity. With temperatures on Wednesday expected to reach into the 90s (with a triple-digit heat index), hydration will be as much a part of the preparation as stretching and getting in a proper warm-up on the practice range.
And it won’t just be the players. Caddies, too, will need to drink plenty of fluids and wear appropriate attire, including comfortable socks to avoid getting blisters.
The Club at Olde Stone isn’t an easy walk, either. The Arthur Hills layout features a variety of elevation changes, especially on the back nine, so stamina will be paramount.
One of the unique playing characteristics of this week’s championship venue is the number of par 5s. Most USGA setups feature a maximum of four par 5s, but at The Club at Olde Stone there are three on the outward nine and two more coming home.
Match play generally leads to a more aggressive strategy, so these holes offer plenty of risk-reward opportunities. The 531-yard seventh hole even features a split fairway. Those who choose to play boldly down the left fairway, have a shorter approach to the green.
And for those matches that reach the 18th hole, plenty of drama awaits as the 548-yard, par-5 – with a downhill tee shot and uphill approach to the green – offers a great chance at birdie and possibly eagle.
“Get a little bit more aggressive on the par 5s,” said Natalie Vo, who played those holes in 4 under in stroke play en route to a 7-under total of 139. “Two or three of them are reachable for the longer hitters, and that would bring them a lot more confidence to know they can get on in two while other competitors are able to get on in three.”
Kynadie Adams, a member at The Club at Olde Stone who hails from Nashville, Tenn., isn’t the only player who is enjoying a regional following this week. Trinity Beth, of Calvert City, Ky., a two-hour drive from Bowling Green in the western-most part of the state, was the only player of the three in the field from the Commonwealth to qualify for match play. The incoming freshman at Marshall County High School shot even-par 146 during stroke play, including a 3-under 70 in Monday’s first round.
A two-time Miss Kentucky for being the top high school player in the state – athletes can begin competing in varsity sports in seventh grade – Beth, who turned 15 in March, owns one American Junior Golf Association win and finished 23rd in last year’s Girls Junior PGA Championship held at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.
“I think maybe this one is bigger,” said a giddy Beth comparing the two national events that have been contested in Kentucky. “It’s just so great we only had to drive two hours to play this amazing course instead of going all over the country like we’ve had to [for other big events].”
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.