It has been unseasonably warm in the Pacific Northwest this weekend with temperatures, normally in the mid- to upper-60s, nearly reaching 90 degrees. But the mercury wasn’t the only thing rising along the shores of Puget Sound. No amount of sunblock could stop the onslaught of great scores being produced at The Home Course, in DuPont, Wash., during Sunday’s final round of stroke play at the 8th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship.
How about a record seven sides sharing medalist honors at 11-under-par 133. That’s the most for any USGA amateur championship, surpassing the six who medaled in the 2007 U.S. Mid-Amateur at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. All of this occurring with winds in the 10- to 15-mile-per-hour range and gusting as high as 20 mph.
Nevertheless, the conditions didn’t bother these talented female golfers. The seven double-digit under-par totals supplanted the six registered in 2017 at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. And the match-play cut of 3-under 141 is the lowest in championship history by one stroke (2017 and 2022).
As for the seven medalists, the two most recent champions – Georgia teens Thienna Huynh, 19, of Lilburn, and Sara Im, 18, of Duluth (2022), and 19-year-olds Savannah Barber, of Fort Worth, Texas, and Alexa Saldana, of Mexico (2021) – joined last year’s runners-up Kaitlyn Schroeder, 18, of Jacksonville, Fla., and Bailey Shoemaker, 18, of Dade City, Fla. Shoemaker, headed for the University of Southern California this fall, tied for 49th in last year’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles, and was a semifinalist in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay, a short 20-minute ride from The Home Course. Schroeder, who enrolled at Alabama in January, was the 2022 American Junior Golf Association Rolex Player of the Year.
California 17-year-olds Anna Davis, of Spring Valley, and Kiara Romero, of San Jose, backed up their opening-round 65 with a 68. Davis, a lefty, won the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur and has committed to play for Auburn University in the fall of 2024, while Romero is headed to the University of Oregon this fall.
Shannon Aubert, 27, of France, and Calli Ringsby, 27, of Denver, Colo., who helped Stanford University win the 2015 NCAA title, played 5-under-par golf over their last nine holes to shoot a 5-under 67 and post 133. Also joining the party were a pair of 14-year-olds, Angela Zhang, of Bellevue, Wash., and Alice Ziyi Zhao, of Irvine, Calif., the latter of whom shared medalist honors in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay. Zhang, who owns the competitive course record at The Home Course with a 65, qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open last Tuesday in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“The experience in USGA events helps,” said Ringsby. “You are used to seeing your name at the range, and all the pageantry that comes with USGA events. Ultimately, we just trust each other which is super helpful.”
Rounding out the magnificent seven were Southern California teens and last-minute alternates Frances Kim, 18, of Rolling Hills Estates, who is headed to the University of Southern California this fall, and Nikki Oh, 15, of Torrance, Calif., the daughter of noted instructor Ted Oh who works with former world No. 1 Lydia Ko and qualified for the U.S. Open 30 years ago at age 16. The duo got into the field on Tuesday.
Barber and Saldana produced the round of the day, an 8-under 64 that matched the second-lowest 18-hole score in championship history. The two rising college sophomores – Barber at Oklahoma and Saldana at Houston – had a chance to break out of the 11-under logjam but suffered a final-hole bogey. The two are looking to erase the bad taste of missing the match-play cut a year ago in Puerto Rico in their title defense.
Im, headed to Vanderbilt University in the fall, holed out a chip for a par on No. 18 to keep the side at 11 under. The duo made five consecutive birdies from No. 5 to kickstart their round, and nearly made it six in a row on the par-5 10th. Huynh, who just completed her freshman season at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, birdied the par-5 16th and two pars, including the Im chip-in, led to a 66.
“Thienna putted first but hit it farther from the hole than we wanted,” said Im describing what happened on the 18th hole. “I thought, OK, I need to go for the 4 now. I told her, I'm going to chip in for par. And it went in.”
Sisters Molly and Morgan Smith (66-69), of Westfield, Mass., and 18-year-olds Kyra Ly, of Portland, Ore., and Emily Song (67-68), of Beaverton, Ore., finished two strokes back of the seven medalists. Molly Smith, 18, headed to the University of Central Florida this fall, nearly advanced out of U.S. Open local qualifying 11 days ago in her home state. Morgan, 19, will be playing at Georgetown this fall.
Ly helped Oregon State reach the upcoming NCAA Championships last week at the Westfield (Ind.) Regional, while Song just completed her freshman season at Weber State.
The 32 advancing sides will begin match play on Monday starting at 8 a.m. PDT. Match play continues on Tuesday with the Round of 16 and quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals and 18-hole championship match on Wednesday.
“We are very competitive. So we love match play. We're scrappy.” – Calli Ringsby on switching formats
“I'll speak for myself, I feel old here.” – Shannon Aubert, 27, on being the oldest side to qualify for match play
“It feels nice to be able to play well after [winning] last year. We are more relaxed. We've achieved what we set out to do. We still take this seriously, but we can enjoy it at the same time.” – Thienna Huynh
“We worked really well together today. Both of us played some really good golf and we balance each other out. It felt like when I would mishit a shot, she'd hit a good shot. We had a really good two days so far.” – Angela Zhang on the 5-under 67 she and partner Alice Ziyi Zhao produced in Round 2
“The greens are pretty similar [ to Chambers Bay]. I learned a lot that week from a course management perspective, where to hit it…You can bomb it here!” – 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur co-medalist Zhao on applying what she learned from a year ago to this week at The Home Course
“We haven't played this [championship] before, but we have USGA experience. You know you're going to be facing a tough golf course, and other players who can shoot really good scores. There are a lot of strong teams here. You [have to] stay in the present, play one shot at a time, and don't let the moment get to you. In other USGA events I think we've let that happen, and we haven't played our best.” – Molly Smith on how she and older sister, Morgan, have approached this event
“Our emotions were all over the place last year [in Puerto Rico]. We were new to this championship, and it felt way more intense. We took it too seriously. We had more fun today.” – Angelina Tolentino after she and partner Megan Meng posted 8-under 136 (67-69) to qualify for match play for a second consecutive year (lost in Round of 32 in 2022)
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Julia Pine, the USGA’s director, championship communications, contributed from The Home Course.
Another solid day from Morgan and Molly Smith at #USWFourBall. They finished Stroke Play T8 (-9) and have advanced to Match Play. The Round of 32 gets started Monday. #MassGolf— Mass Golf (@PlayMassGolf) May 15, 2023
(Photo: #USGA) pic.twitter.com/8iddmat8Dx
Denver’s Calli Ringsby and former Stanford teammate Shannon Aubert share stroke-play medalist honors at U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball; Coloradan Hadley Ashton and teammate Brynn Kort also advance to match play. https://t.co/P8OYYPToOa #USWFourBall pic.twitter.com/qxveuyEDFy— Colorado Golf Association (@ColoGolf) May 15, 2023
New Jersey's own Megan Meng & Angelina Tolentino have climbed up the leaderboard on day ✌️ of the #USWFourBall !— NJSGA (@NJSGA1900) May 14, 2023
2021 New Jersey Amateur Champion Ami Gianchandani and partner, Kaitlyn Lee are also playing great golf in Washington.
Top 32 teams advance to match play! Follow… https://t.co/s6D8nWO9zx