Four days ago, Frances Kim and Nikki Oh were home in Southern California, hoping for this moment.
“When we got the call, we screamed,” said Kim, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. “We were trying to manifest this.”
The duo, who played together in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship for the first time last year in Puerto Rico, were first alternates out of the Vista, Calif., qualifying site after shooting a 69 in their November qualifier. They found out they made it into the field via another side’s withdrawal on Tuesday, and they carded a 7-under-par 65 at The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., on Saturday for a share of the lead after Round 1 of the 8th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.
“We got everything packed and ready to go in one day,” said Oh, 15, of Torrance, Calif. “Especially coming in last minute, we just didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves. We wanted to play our best, and we are grateful to be here.”
Their score was matched by only two other sides, both of which have long known they would be at The Home Course this week. Kaitlyn Schroeder and Bailey Shoemaker as well as Anna Davis and Kiara Romero were exempt into the field based on their lofty Women's World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Davis, 17, who won the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, got off to a torrid start, recording four birdies and an eagle in her first 10 holes. Romero added three birdies of her own during that stretch, which resulted in a front nine 6-under 30 for the side.
“We had confidence, we had momentum. Putts were dropping,” said Romero, 17, of San Jose, Calif.
They would cool off for a back-nine 35.
“On the back nine the wind picked up,” Davis noted. “We gave ourselves a birdie chance on almost every hole, even on the back nine. Putts just weren’t dropping.”
Schroeder and Shoemaker, runners-up a year ago, did most of their damage in the middle of their round, playing hole Nos. 5-16 in 7 under par. Shoemaker, 18, of Dade City, Fla., who will join the University of Southern California women’s golf team in the fall, continued her stellar play in Washington state, having advanced to the semifinals of the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur just 12 miles down the road at Chambers Bay nine months ago.
Defending champions Thienna Huynh and Sara Im continued their strong play in the event, carding a 5-under-par 67. Savannah Barber and Alexa Saldana, the only other champions in the field, having won at Maridoe Golf Club in 2021, turned in a 3-under 69.
Each side will play another 18-hole round of stroke play on Sunday, with the low 32 sides of 64 advancing to match play. Should a playoff be required to determine the final spot(s) in match play, it will take place on Sunday evening. Match play begins Monday morning.
“Holding up that big trophy at the end. It was the best feeling.” – Savannah Barber on what she remembers most about her victory with Alexa Saldana in 2021
“We started off a little slow, a lot of pars, which is good, but we kept our heads in it and knew that the birdies were going to come. That really paid off in the end.” – Kendall Griffin on combining with Elle Nachmann for a 5-under back nine
“When you have a really good partner, it takes a lot of pressure off, and you can go out there and play really free.” – Griffin on her partnership with Nachmann
“I hit a really good drive. I had 250 in and so much room right, so I swung as hard as I could, and it happened to get there. I had a 10-foot putt and made it.” – Anna Davis on her eagle on the 526-yard, par-5 eighth hole
“The course is wide open. But there are some tricky pin placements, super firm greens, so you have to make sure you are checking the hole locations not only when you are on the green, but for your approach shot, too. You have to know where the right misses are.” – Calli Ringsby on her approach to The Home Course
Julia Pine is the director, championship communications for the USGA. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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