Medalist Saso prevails on day of upsets at Girls’ Junior
For the City Times
STEVENS POINT — Any anxieties Yuka Saso had about match play were shelved at least for one day.
Saso, the stroke-play medalist in the 71st U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at SentryWorld, dispatched No. 64 seed and final match-play qualifier Kaylee Sakoda, of Cypress, Calif., in the Round of 64 on Monday, 6 and 4.
Saso, 18, of the Philippines, admitted on Tuesday to not feeling totally comfortable with the format, having never advanced past the Round of 32 in three previous starts in this championship (she reached the semifinals of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur). She even recorded her first bogey in 45 holes after playing bogey-free golf in stroke play.
But any nerves were quickly brushed aside to set up a Round-of-32 match on Thursday morning with Phoebe Brinker, 17, of Wilmington, Del. Brinker, who is headed to Duke University in 2020, defeated Michigan State rising sophomore Valery Plata, 18, of Colombia, 1 up.
Sakoda had to return to SentryWorld at 7 a.m. to complete the 13-for-2 playoff in the draw that began Tuesday evening and got down to the final two players for the last spot. Three hours later, Saso never let Sakoda carry over any momentum, winning three of the first four holes before losing the par-5 ninth with a bogey. She recovered quickly with winning birdies on 10 and 11, then birdied Nos. 13 and 14 to close out the match. Saso, winner of the Junior Girls PGA Championship two weeks ago in Hartford, Conn., was the equivalent of 6 under par over 14 holes, with the usual match-play concessions.
“Yeah, I was nervous,” said Saso. “I’m just happy for today. [I] struggled on the ninth hole, but good thing I got my momentum back on hole 10.”
The opening round of match play, however, did not go so well for several top players, including 2017 champion Erica Shepherd, No. 2 seed Maddison Hinson-Tolchard and 2018 runner-up Alexa Pano.
Shepherd, 18, of Greenwood, Ind., who earlier this year captured the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball title with fellow incoming Duke University freshman Megan Furtney, fell to Kelly Xu, 15, of Claremont, Calif., 3 and 2. Xu is noted for being the first female champion crowned at Augusta National Golf Club when she won the Girls 7-9 division of the inaugural Drive, Chip & Putt Championship in 2014.
“I had to learn about match play by Googling it last night,” said Xu, who had never played the format until Wednesday. “I definitely like playing it more than stroke play.”
Hinson-Tolchard, 18, of Australia, had a 1-up lead going into the final hole against the other playoff qualifier, Caroline Hodge, 18, of Larchmont, N.Y. But she bogeyed both the 18th and 19th holes to exit the competition.
Her fellow countrywoman, Grace Kim, had better luck. The 18-year-old eliminated Pano, 14, of West Palm Beach, Fla., 4 and 3.
But not all of the top seeds were sent home early. No. 3 Sophia Bae, 15, of Norwood, N.J., defeated Alexis Sudjianto, 18, of Charlotte, N.C., 5 and 4. In a match that saw a combined eight birdies, No. 5 Jillian Bourdage, 17, of Tamarac, Fla., outlasted Savannah Hylton, 16, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., 2 and 1. During one stretch, winning birdies were posted on six of seven holes.
Lauren Beaudreau, 18, of Lemont, Ill., also earned a 1-up decision over world No. 35 Rachel Heck, 17, of Memphis, Tenn., 1 up, winning the 18th hole after Heck had tied the encounter with consecutive birdies on 16 and 17.
-“I’m kind of tired, so I might just rest for today. Long day tomorrow.” – Medalist Yuka Saso on her preparation for possibly playing two match-play rounds on Thursday
-“You know, I didn’t expect it at all. Coming into this week at the practice rounds I thought No. 7 would be a little tough. The tees are moved up [today], so I grabbed the club I liked, and when it was up in the air it looked pretty good. I told it to sit a little because I thought it might be over [the green]. My mom started screaming, people started clapping, and I was like, Okay, I’ll take it.” – Yoona Kim on her first-ever hole-in-one
-“When we found out we made the cut we were overjoyed. We were overachieving already. So I’m just going to keep playing relaxed and learn from some pretty great players.” – Kelly Xu on her mindset going into the Round of 32
-“My opponent today was very solid. I was very fortunate to play against such a great player and prevail. It helps me for tomorrow. I just have to keep my momentum up.” – No. 5 seed Jillian Bourdage after beating Savannah Hylton, 2 and 1
-“Yeah, he helped me with a lot green reading. I think that’s pretty important out here, especially as the greens get a little bit faster as the week goes on. And then we kind of just bounce [ideas] off each other like where to hit it in the fairway and stuff like that.” – Grace Summerhays on the advice her brother and 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur champion, Preston, offered in her 5-and-4 victory
-“It suits [my game] really well. It’s a good driving course. You can take advantage of some of the holes if you can get it up there, and then if you can hit a wedge close you can have a good look at birdie.” – Julia Gregg on how SentryWorld suits her game
Two rounds of match play will take place Thursday. The Round of 32 will begin at 7 a.m., with the winners advancing to the Round of 16 on Thursday afternoon beginning at 12:45 p.m. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play will take place Friday, and the championship will conclude with the 36-hole final on Saturday. Friday and Saturday’s action can be seen live on FS1 from 2-4 p.m. ET.
Stevens Points, Wis. – Results from Wednesday’s Round of 64 at the 2019 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, played at 6,199-yard par-72 SentryWorld.
Yuka Saso, Philippines (132) def. Kaylee Sakoda, Cypress, Calif. (150), 6 and 4
Phoebe Brinker, Wilmington, Del. (146) def. Valery Plata, Colombia (146), 1 up
Anne Chen, Sugar Land, Texas (148) def. Hsin-Yu Lu, Chinese Taipei (144), 4 and 3
Isabella Van Der Biest, Kingsport, Tenn. (148) def. Julia Misemer, Overland Park, Kan. (144), 4 and 3
Michaela Morard, Huntsville, Ala. (149) def. Bohyun Park, Republic of Korea (143), 6 and 4
Rose Zhang, Irvine, Calif. (147) def. Sophie (Yixian) Guo, People’s Republic of China (145), 19 holes
Kelly Xu, Claremont, Calif. (149) def. Erica Shepherd, Greenwood, Ind. (143), 3 and 2
Yoona Kim, Fair Lawn, N.J. (147) def. Jennifer Koga, Honolulu, Hawaii (145), 2 and 1
Kendall Todd, Goodyear, Ariz. (149) def. YoonMin Han, Republic of Korea (141), 3 and 1
Lauren Beaudreau, Lemont, Ill. (146) def. Rachel Heck, Memphis, Tenn. (147), 1 up
Madelyn Gamble, Pleasant Hill, Calif. (149) def. Megha Ganne, Holmdel, N.J. (144), 19 holes
Jasmine Ly, Canada (144) def. Emma Zhao, Windermere, Fla. (148), 19 holes
Jillian Bourdage, Tamarac, Fla. (141) def. Savannah Hylton, Hilton Head Island, S.C. (149), 2 and 1
Isabella Fierro, Mexico (146) def. Kynadie Adams, Nashville, Tenn. (147), 3 and 2
Maisie Filler, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (144) def. Jiarui (Joyce) Jin, People’s Republic of China (149), 1 up
Mika (Meijia) Jin, People’s Republic of China (148) def. Katherine Muzi, Newport Beach, Calif. (145), 2 and 1
Caroline Hodge, Larchmont, N.Y. (150) def. Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Australia (137), 19 holes
Brooke Seay, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (146) def. Ashley Menne, Phoenix, Ariz. (146), 1 up
Grace Kim, Australia (144) def. Alexa Pano, Lake Worth, Fla. (148), 4 and 3
Chun-Wei Wu, Chinese Taipei (144) def. Elle Nachmann, Boca Raton, Fla. (148), 3 and 2
Lei Ye, People’s Republic of China (142) def. Elina Sinz, Katy, Texas (149), 6 and 5
Virginie Ding, Hong Kong China (147) def. Yue Zhang, People’s Republic of China (145), 19 holes
Erika Smith, Orlando, Fla. (143) def. Isabella McCauley, Inver Grove Heights, Minn. (149), 2 and 1
Grace Summerhays, Scottsdale, Ariz. (147) def. Sarah Arnold, St. Charles, Ill. (145), 5 and 4
Sophia Bae, Norwood, N.J. (139) def. Alexis Sudjianto, Charlotte, N.C. (149), 5 and 4
Julia Gregg, Farmers Branch, Texas (147) def. Grace Ni, Cypress, Texas (146), 3 and 1
Anika Varma, India (148) def. Nicole Adam, Pinehurst, N.C. (144), 3 and 1
Nicole Whiston, San Diego, Calif. (148) def. Irene Kim, La Palma, Calif. (144), 2 and 1
Sabrina Iqbal, San Jose, Calif. (142) def. Cory Lopez, Mexico (149), 4 and 2
Kayla Smith, Burlington, N.C. (147) def. Alexa Udom, Portland, Ore. (146), 2 and 1
Briana Chacon, Whittier, Calif. (143) def. Yu Wen Lu, People’s Republic of China (149), 2 up
Gia Feliciano, Concord, Calif. (147) def. Hailey Borja, Lake Forest, Calif. (145), 1 up
STEVENS POINT, Wis. – Pairings and tee times for Thursday’s second round of match play at the 2019 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, played at 6,199-yard, par-72 SentryWorld.
7 a.m. – Yuka Saso, Philippines (132) vs. Phoebe Brinker, Wilmington, Del. (146)
7:09 a.m. – Anne Chen, Sugar Land, Texas (148) vs. Isabella Van Der Biest, Kingsport, Tenn. (148)
7:18 a.m. – Michaela Morard, Huntsville, Ala. (149) vs. Rose Zhang, Irvine, Calif. (147)
7:27 a.m. – Kelly Xu, Claremont, Calif. (149) vs. Yoona Kim, Fair Lawn, N.J. (147)
7:36 a.m. – Kendall Todd, Goodyear, Ariz. (149) vs. Lauren Beaudreau, Lemont, Ill. (146)
7:45 a.m. – Madelyn Gamble, Pleasant Hill, Calif. (149) vs. Jasmine Ly, Canada (144)
7:54 a.m. – Jillian Bourdage, Tamarac, Fla. (141) vs. Isabella Fierro, Mexico (146)
8:03 a.m. – Maisie Filler, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (144) vs. Mika (Meijia) Jin, People’s Republic of China (148)
8:12 a.m. – Caroline Hodge, Larchmont, N.Y. (150) vs. Brooke Seay, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (146)
8:21 a.m. – Grace Kim, Australia (144) vs. Chun-Wei Wu, Chinese Taipei (144)
8:30 a.m. – Lei Ye, People’s Republic of China (142) vs. Virginie Ding, Hong Kong China (147)
8:39 a.m. – Erika Smith, Orlando, Fla. (143) vs. Grace Summerhays, Scottsdale, Ariz. (147)
8:48 a.m. – Sophia Bae, Norwood, N.J. (139) vs. Julia Gregg, Farmers Branch, Texas (147)
8:57 a.m. – Anika Varma, India (148) vs. Nicole Whiston, San Diego, Calif. (148)
9:06 a.m. – Sabrina Iqbal, San Jose, Calif. (142) vs. Kayla Smith, Burlington, N.C. (147)
9:15 a.m. – Briana Chacon, Whittier, Calif. (143) vs. Gia Feliciano, Concord, Calif. (147)