ROCKVILLE, Md. — In every match play event there’s always one match on the bracket that arrives too soon in the competition.
At this year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur, it was the quarterfinal match between defending champion Gabriela Ruffels and Wake Forest’s Emilia Migliaccio.
The match had the feel and intensity of a final. Migliaccio, known for her match play prowess in the amateur golf world, was the better player on the front nine, holding a 2-up lead through the 8th hole.
Walking to the 9th tee, a testy 396-yard par-4, Migliaccio was entering Ruffel’s world. Woodmont Country Club should name the hole “Gabi” after what the USC senior has been able to accomplish this week. In all four matches, she’s won the 9th with a par (and made par in both stroke-play rounds, as well). Ruffels has trailed in all four match play rounds standing on the 9th tee and has gone on to win every match by cruising through the more-difficult back nine.
On Saturday morning Ruffels also won the 10th to tie the match, then went 1 down again on No. 15 after a clutch birdie from Migliaccio. Ruffels flagged her tee shot on the par-3 16th, making birdie to tie the match once again.
On the 18th green, Migliaccio almost produced some late heroics for the second day in a row. In Friday’s Round of 16 match, she made a 15-plus footer for birdie to force a playoff. On Saturday morning, from around 35 feet, her putt caught the lip and just missed.
Ruffels flagged her approach to around 10 feet, and in true champion fashion put the match to bed with a birdie. She now faces Michigan State’s Valery Plata in this afternoon’s semifinals, last season’s B1G Ten golfer of the year and this week’s most consistent player. In match play, Plata has led for 51 holes. She’s trailed for just four holes, all on the front nine of her quarterfinal win Saturday morning.
There’s a potential all-Trojan final on hand with Alyaa Abdulghany on the other side of the bracket squaring off against 2021 Stanford commit and the world’s No. 9-ranked amateur Rose Zhang.
The semifinals begin at 12:45 p.m. ET, with live coverage on Golf Channel from 1-4 p.m. ET.