Anything can happen in match play.
That’s what makes the next few days of the U.S. Women’s Amateur so exciting.
Early on Thursday during the Round of 64, it was all chalk at Woodmont Country Club. Top seed Rachel Heck got off to a hot start winning the first four holes before No. 64 Therese Warner fought back over the next 13 to send the match to the 18th hole. Heck made birdie to claim a 2-up win.
“I just got off to a hot start. But then I fully expected (Warner) to make a lot of birdies, make a run at it and come back, which of course she did,” said Heck of the match. “She’s such a great player. We both had a lot of fun out there. It was a crazy match.”
Eleven of the next 12 matches followed suit with the higher-ranked seeds winning, including a pair of 6-and-5 wins (No. 17 Maria Bohorquez def. No. 38 Sofia Garcia, No. 24 Kaleigh Telfer def. No. 41 Talia Campbell).
But seeding doesn’t tell the full story. Garcia was a second-team All-American last season for Texas Tech, and in theory should have advanced. Same with No. 33 Allisen Corpez, a first-team All-American for USC who lost to No. 32 Cecilie Finne-Ipsen.
Anything can happen in match play.
The lone upset (by seeding) from the morning wave came down to the 18th green where No. 56 Emily Mahar took down No. 9 Michaela Williams, 1 up.
“It was very, very up and down. To begin with, we were both squaring with birdies and towards the end we were both squaring with bogeys,” said Mahar after the match. “I guess it kind of came down to who didn’t screw up on the last couple holes.”
The big win of the day came early in the afternoon when No. 31 Zoe Antoinette Campos defeated No. 34 Pimnipa Panthong, 7 and 5. It was the Round of 64’s largest victory, with Campos winning five holes with par.
Four matches went to extra holes, including the back-and-forth slugfest between No. 26 Gina Kim and No. 39 Isabella Fierro. The match was tied for 10 of the 18 holes, with Fierro coming away victorious with a birdie on the 19th hole.
Defending champion Gabriela Ruffels, the six seed, was losing for most of the front nine in her match against the resilient No. 59 Kajal Mistry. The USC senior won five of the last eight holes to earn a 3-and-2 victory.
“I’m trying to make it feel like a regular golf tournament, but obviously there’s a little bit more pressure and expectation, but that’s what I thought it would be coming into it,” said Ruffels. “Honestly it’s just a bunch of fun. I’m just having fun out there, and whatever happens, happens.”
After play was washed out on Tuesday, the schedule for the rest of the week was forced to change. Both the Round of 32 and Round of 16 will be contested on Friday, as scheduled, beginning with the first match at 7 a.m. ET. The quarterfinals and semifinals now both fall on Saturday before Sunday’s 36-hole final.
Matches to watch
Here are the matches we’ll have circled for the Round of 32:
Rachel Heck vs. Cecilie Finne-Ipsen
The top seed may be on upset alert after Charlotte player Finne-Ipsen proved she belongs in match play by taking down Allisen Corpuz.
Gabriela Ruffels vs. Lei Ye
The defending champion is always must-see TV, especially against Ye, a Stanford commit and top-30 player according to the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Emilia Migliaccio vs. Amari Avery
Migliaccio is making her debut at the U.S. Women’s Amateur, but don’t let that fool you. The Wake Forest senior is ranked fourth according to WAGR and is a force to be reckoned with in match play.
Rachel Kuehn vs. Brooke Matthews
Kuehn entered this week on a two-event win streak and remained in form in stroke play and the first round of match play. She’ll have a strong test against Matthews, the Arkansas junior who’s as consistent as they come.
Valery Plata vs. Zoe Antoinette Campos
Campos earned a massive win against second team All-American Pimnipa Panthong to advance, while Plata defeated her Michigan State teammate Haylin Harris in the Round of 64.