Hackett, Walker Break Quarterfinal Jinx, Reach Final 4 at Oak Hills C.C.

By David Shefter, USGA

| May 14, 2024 | San Antonio, Texas

Hackett, Walker Break Quarterfinal Jinx, Reach Final 4 at Oak Hills C.C.

What Happened

Twenty-five holes into the 9th U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Oak Hills Country Club, Sydney Hackett and Melanie Walker were on the verge of changing airline reservations and prematurely checking out of their area hotel.

The two Virginians stood at 2 over par and five strokes off the projected match-play cut. But something happened on the way to the clubhouse. The quarterfinalists from the past two championships jumped into a proverbial phone booth and morphed into super-heroes. Seven-under par golf over the final 11 holes got the duo into match play, and by Tuesday afternoon, they were in the semifinals after knocking off record-setting co-medalists and top seeds Lauren and Katelyn Lehigh, of Loveland, Colo., 1 up.

That was the side’s second victory of the day as they eliminated the No. 4-seed from Greensboro, Ga., Kallyn Black and Lili Nelson, 2 and 1.

Hackett, 19, of Ashburn, and Walker, 20, of Burke, were joined in the final four by Brynn Kort, 16, of Henderson, Nev., and partner Gracie McGovern, 18, of Paradise Valley, Ariz.; U.S. National Junior Team member Asterisk Talley, 15, of Chowchilla, Calif., and partner Sarah Lim, 17, of Saratoga, Calif.; and Tennesseans Savannah Cherry, 18, of Brentwood, and Lauren Slatton, 17, of McMinnville.

Unlike Monday when play was halted for four hours due to a lengthy thunderstorm, the players were greeted with clear blue skies and temperatures that crept into the 90s, but without the sticky humidity folks in Texas are accustomed to at this time of year.

Hackett and Walker warmed up with the weather.

“We birdied our last four [holes in stroke play],” said Walker, a rising junior at the University of Missouri. We knew that we could go far in match play. This is our third time to get to quarterfinals, three years in a row. But I think last year we came in as the 24th seed, this year we're the 25th. We've just never been the killers.”

They were giant killers this time. The Lehigh sisters were sizzling in stroke play, shooting 14-under 128 to establish a championship scoring record. Lauren Lehigh, 23, also established a single-season school scoring mark in her final year at the University of New Mexico (71.67), while Katelyn Lehigh, 20, won a tournament last fall in Utah during her sophomore campaign at Fresno State.

An ace by Gracie McGovern propelled the Paradise Valley, Ariz., teen into the semifinals with partner Brynn Kort. (USGA/Chris Keane)

An ace by Gracie McGovern propelled the Paradise Valley, Ariz., teen into the semifinals with partner Brynn Kort. (USGA/Chris Keane)

But after a run of three consecutive birdies from No. 3 to take a 2-up lead, their putters went cold. Walker nearly holed out a chip for eagle on the 277-yard, par-4 eighth, a hole the Lehigh’s had owned the previous 2½ days with two birdies and an eagle. Walker’s winning birdie tied the match, and they took the lead for good with a birdie on the par-3 13th. On the par-3 18th, Lauren Lehigh had a chance to force extra holes but missed the 6-foot birdie attempt.

Disgusted with herself, she tried the putt several more times before finally making it on her third attempt.

“They did a good job of giving themselves opportunities,” said Walker. “We had a lot of fun with them, and they're a really good team. Really blessed to be playing with them and just enjoying it.”   

Added Hackett, a rising sophomore at Western Kentucky,” I think it was the putts, honestly. That's the main difference.”  

McGovern and Kort certainly had seen enough of Vanessa Borovilos and Cara Heisterkamp this week. Everything but eat dinner and share a hotel room.

The good friends – Borovilos is a 2024 Texas A&M signee and Kort will join her in College Station in 2025 – played both practice rounds and the two stroke-play rounds together, and then got matched in the quarterfinals where Kort and McGovern prevailed, 4 and 3.

McGovern’s first competitive hole-in-one (third overall) with a pitching wedge on the 129-yard, par-3 ninth hole changed the momentum. The shot by the incoming Texas Christian University freshmangave the side a 2-up lead. A Borovilos birdie got one back on the par-5 10th, but a winning par on No. 11 and two consecutive 15- to 20-foot birdie putts on 12 and 13 by Kort put the match away. McGovern even hit a driver off the deck on the par-5 15th hole from 240 yards out on to the green. The sides tied the hole and the match was over.

It was the second consecutive quarterfinal loss for the Canadian Borovilos and Westlake, Ohio, resident Heisterkamp, who is headed to Indiana University this fall.

U.S. National Junior Team member Asterisk Talley (left) and partner Sarah Lim admitted to not playing their best golf on Tuesday, but still managed a pair of victories to reach the semifinals at Oak Hills C.C. (USGA/Chris Keane)

U.S. National Junior Team member Asterisk Talley (left) and partner Sarah Lim admitted to not playing their best golf on Tuesday, but still managed a pair of victories to reach the semifinals at Oak Hills C.C. (USGA/Chris Keane)

“They're a good team,” said Kort. “They're hard to beat. We were just making putts, and that's kind of what went in our favor. We've never been in this situation [in a USGA event], but I think we're going to keep doing what we're doing. We're having fun out there and we're being a team.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Kort and McGovern held off incoming Illinois State freshmen Elise Ferrell and Jessica Jolly, 1 up.

Despite admitting to not having her best stuff, Talley, who has been on a hot streak since winning the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley in March and qualifying for the 2024 U.S. Women’s Open Presented by Ally eight days ago, and Lim rallied from an early 2-down deficit to eliminate Angelina Kim, of Tenafly, N.J., and 2024 University of Virginia signee Kennedy Swedick, 17, of Albany, N.Y., 3 and 1.

After Talley’s short winning birdie putt on the par-5 15th gave the side a 1-up lead, Lim, who will play for Princeton University in 2025, answered with a 33-foot birdie on 16 and a 6-footer on 17 to close out the match.

“I literally told Sarah on the 17th hole, I didn't think we would make it this far,” said Talley. “That gave her a lot of confidence…We pulled it through.”

Just call Cherry and Slatton the extra-hole queens.

Cherry, a 2024 High Point University signee, and Slatton, a 2025 verbal commitment to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, have gone overtime in all three matches this week. In the quarterfinals, Cherry drained an 8-foot birdie on the par-4 20th (Hole 17 at Oak Hills) to eliminate Kacey Ly, 16, of Temple City, Calif., and Celina Yeo, 15, of Canada. They tied the match in regulation on the same hole with Cherry converting from 6 feet.

“I wish we would have ended it on 18,” echoed both players, exhausted from playing 39 holes.

Earlier on Tuesday, Cherry made two remarkable putts to deliver a 19-hole, Round-of-16 upset over record-setting co-medalists and second-seeds Caroline and Catie Craig, of Sautee Nacoochee, Ga. Perhaps as an ode to John Mellencamp, Cherry made a bomb from 35 feet for birdie on the par-3 18th hole that forced extra holes. And then she delivered again on the par-5 10th, the first extra hole, with a 15-foot birdie.

“Yep, just trusting the putter,” said Cherry. “My favorite club.”

On Monday, Slatton made birdie on the same hole to oust Natalie Yen and Asia Young in the Round of 32.

Catie Craig, 20, a rising senior at Western Kentucky University, and Caroline, 23, a recent graduate of Indiana University, both had birdie attempts on No. 18 inside of 15 feet to win the match and just missed. Catie also sent her hybrid approach on the par 5 just over the green into a bunker and failed to get up and down for birdie, missing from 10 feet moments after Cherry converted.

“You can’t do anything when somebody makes a [35]-footer on the last hole,” said Caroline, the 2024 Big 10 Conference co-champion.

What’s Next

The semifinal matches and 18-hole championship match are scheduled for Wednesday. The semifinals will go off at 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. CDT, with the final set to tee off at 1 p.m. Admission is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Tennesseans Lauren Slatton (left) and Savannah Cherry have produced three dramatic extra-hole wins to reach the semifinals. (USGA/Chris Keane)

Tennesseans Lauren Slatton (left) and Savannah Cherry have produced three dramatic extra-hole wins to reach the semifinals. (USGA/Chris Keane)


  • All four of the quarterfinal sides who were eliminated are exempt into the 2025 championship to be played at Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club in Nichols Hills, Okla., May 10-14, provided the sides remain intact.

  • One other match went extra holes in the Round of 16. Angelina Kim and Kennedy Swedick ousted the oldest remaining side, Addie Baggarly, 24, of Clarksville, Tenn., and Kendall Griffin, 25, of Sebring, Fla. Baggarly (Louisville) and Griffin (Indiana) just completed their second seasons as assistant college coaches. This was Griffin’s sixth U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball with four different partners. Kim and Swedick birdied Nos. 17 and 19.

  • The name Maye Huang might ring a bell for those who regularly follow the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National Golf Club. Huang, and her older brother, Treed, each won age-group titles in the skills competition. Maye, who lost in the Round of 16 with partner and fellow Texan Summer Lee, captured the Girls’ 7-9 division in 2017. Treed advanced to the finals on four occasions, winning the Boys 7-9 division in the inaugural event in 2014 and the 14-15 division in 2019. He was the 12-13 division runner-up in 2018 and tied for fourth in the 12-13 division in 2017. He currently plays for UC Davis. Maye plans to play for UCLA in the fall of 2025.

  • Asterisk Talley will have quite a turnaround no matter what the outcome is on Wednesday. She is scheduled to play in the Mizuho Americas Open alongside LPGA Tour players at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., that begins on Thursday. Last year’s inaugural junior event was won by 2022 U.S. Girls’ Junior champ Yana Wilson. Besides Talley, U.S. Junior National Team member and 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball champion Gianna Clemente is in the field along with National Junior Team members Shyla Brown, Ryleigh Knaub, Nikki Oh and Mia Hammond. Wilson is also trying to defend her title.


“I think we literally practiced for six hours afterwards on putting. Even after our first nine for the second day of stroke play, we were kind of sitting there like, ‘We need to get something going.’ We both birdied 10, and then I birdied 11, and then we were in momentum [mode]. We were still outside the cut, and then [Sydney] made three birdies in a row, and I made my birdie on 18, so it was nice.” – Melanie Walker on reaching the semifinals after nearly missing the cut

“I've been having a couple swing issues and overthinking and stuff, but then on No. 8 I was just walking down the fairway and Brynn and her mom were like, swing free, just trust it, and that's what I started doing. Then after that I made the hole-in-one.” – Gracie McGovern

“I just try and stay in the now, one hole at a time. When you're really in the game, you don't really think of anything else outside of golf. I feel like even anything outside of golf, not even other tournaments, if something is distracting you and you're really in the game, it doesn't really mess with you.” – Asterisk Talley on focusing on Wednesday and not the upcoming prestigious junior event in New Jersey

“Yeah, I’m not going to lie, our week hasn't been that good. Other than the 9-under [62 on Sunday], that was crazy, but the rest of the rounds haven't been our best. But I feel like it's a confidence boost not playing our best and still winning.” – Sarah Lim

“We're going to go home and hit the sack. We're so tired.” – Lauren Slatton  

“It was incredible. I would not change it for the world. It was so much fun with Catie. I just finished my collegiate career [at Indiana University] and this was the cherry on top. To succeed and make it to the Round of 16 with Catie is just a dream.” – Caroline Craig summing up the week

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.