Robertson And Incoming Signee Eklund advance To VSGA Amateur Quarterfinals
July 11, 2012
WILLIAMSBURG -- Stroke play medalist and ODU head women's golf coach Carol Robertson, continued her strong play at the Virginia State Golf Association Women's Amateur Championship, posting a pair of decisive wire-to-wire victories as match play opened today at the 87th renewal of the event being conducted at the 5,770-yard, par 72 Golden Horseshoe Golf Club Gold Course.
Robertson didn't have a match go past the 13th hole in the first two rounds. Over the span of the 24 holes, Robertson played consistently throughout with her only blemish being one double bogey amid a collection of pars and birdies. After scoring an 8 and 7 victory in the morning, she posted a 6 and 5 win after lunch.
"I played well in both matches today," said Robertson, who was reinstated to amateur status in September 2010. "It was one of those days when I didn't have very many mistakes and when I did make them, thankfully I got up and down."
Six teenagers and two 21-year-olds fill the remaining spots in the quarterfinal field. In all, four of the five low qualifiers for match play advanced to the round of eight. In a tightly-contested afternoon session, four of the eight encounters went to the 18th hole or further.
Robertson will face Ju Hee Bae, 17, of Chantilly, the runner-up at last year's championship, in the round of eight. In the second round, she posted a 3-and-2 victory over Coty Hudson, a 19-year-old rising sophomore at Hollins University.
On the same side of the bracket, central Virginian Alex Wright (Midlothian), the youngest player in the match play field at age 14, ended Amanda Steinhagen's (Oak Hill) pursuit of a third consecutive VSGA Women's Amateur victory, outlasting the 20-year-old rising junior at Longwood University in 20 holes.
Wright, a former St. Catherine's School student who now attends the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., made three birdie putts in the late stages that combined for nearly 90 feet in distance to notch an incredible comeback victory.
Two holes down after No. 15, Wright showed a steely nerve, snaking in a 45-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th; Steinhagen's putt from just inside her opponent for a halve hit the hole and somehow stayed out. Wright then knocked in an 18-footer at the par-4 17th hole to square the match. At the second extra hole, the par-5 second, her late stretch of unconscious putting continued, holing a 25-footer for birdie to win the match.
"When I've needed it, I haven't putted like that before," Wright said. "I haven't experienced making that many long putts before, especially in a row. It's just different."
At the Richmond Women's Golf Association Amateur Championship in June, Wright became the first African-American medalist in the event's 86-year history and was the runner-up. She's making her first start in the VSGA Women's Amateur a memorable one.
"I go into every tournament wanting to win, but all I really want to do is have fun," Wright said. "I'm really seeing that I'm getting better, so hopefully good things are coming."
The fifth low qualifier for match play, Wright will take on Lauren Coughlin (Chesapeake), a 19-year-old rising sophomore at the University of Virginia in the quarterfinals. The fourth low qualifier for match play, Coughlin bested northern Virginian Khushboo Thiagaraj (Haymarket), 3 and 2 in the second round.
A pair of Coughlin's teammates at the University of Virginia this past season, 21-year-olds Elizabeth Brightwell (Nellysford) and Lauren Greenlief (Oakton), both advanced in the bottom half of the bracket.
A rising junior at U.Va., Brightwell two-putted for birdie from 30 feet at the par-5 18th to get past Whitney Rhodes (Staunton), 1 up. Brightwell was a semifinalist in 2009, and reached the quarterfinals a year later, but was eliminated in the second round last year.
Counting the concessions that are typically a part of match play, Brightwell was one under in her second round match, while the 20-year-old Rhodes shot the stroke play equivalent of even par. She knows all about the uncertainties that accompany the match play format.
"With the quality of opponents, you have to be ready every match," said Brightwell, the second low qualifier for match play. "Results from stroke play don't mean much once you get into match play. You have to take it one hole at a time and stay in the moment, especially during some pretty long days."
She will face 17-year-old Lauren Eklund (Charlottesville) in the quarterfinals. A graduate of Albemarle High School, Eklund will play for Robertson as a member of the golf team at Old Dominion University in the fall. Eklund slipped past mid-amateur Cyndi Carlson, 1 up, in the round of 16.
Greenlief, meanwhile, will take on Karishma Thiagaraj, 18, of Haymarket in the quarterfinals. In the afternoon session, Greenlief made par on the first extra hole, the par-4 first, to defeat Hannah Pierce, 19, of King George in 19 holes. Thiagaraj, meanwhile, bested fellow teenager Amanda Hollandsworth, 16, of Floyd, 3 and 2, in the second round.
After spending nearly five weeks in China in May and June as a part of a study abroad program, Greenlief is admittedly getting re-acclimated to competitive golf. The 66 she produced at last week's club championship at International Country Club gave her some added confidence heading into the championship.
A three-time VSGA Virginias Women's Stroke Play champion, Greenlief has twice been a runner-up at the VSGA Women's Amateur in 2009 and 2010 and, despite some rust, is looking for a breakthrough performance. In Pierce, she ousted the third low qualifier for match play.
"This tournament is a marathon and you definitely have to think about it that way," said Greenlief, a spring graduate of the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce. "I'm almost halfway to my goal."
Both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play are scheduled for Thursday, July 12. The scheduled 18-hole championship final is set for Friday, July 13.
WILLIAMSBURG -- Results from the first and second rounds of match play at the 87th VSGA Women's Amateur Championship at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club's Gold Course (5,770 yards, par 36-36--72) on Wednesday, July 11 (stroke play qualifying score indicated).
-FIRST ROUND- (1) Carol Robertson (Virginia Beach), 137 def. (32) Casey Gaffney (Chesterfield), 180, 8 and 7 (16) Elizabeth Bose (Norfolk), 156 def. (17) Lauren Kruszewski (Chesapeake), 157, 3 and 2 (8) Ju Hee Bae (Chantilly), 151 def. (25) Tracy Moriconi (Richmond), 163, 8 and 7 (24) Coty Hudson (Lynchburg), 162 def. (9) Paige Reese (South Hill), 151, 3 and 1 (4) Lauren Coughlin (Charlottesville), 147 def. (29) Lindsay Wortham (Richmond), 167, 2 and 1 (13) Khushboo Thiagaraj (Haymarket), 154 def. (20) Kristine Rohrbaugh (Richmond), 161, 6 and 5 (5) Alex Wright (Midlothian), 151 def. (28) Stephanie Eybers (Haymarket), 166, 2 and 1 (12) Amanda Steinhagen (Oak Hill), 152 def. (21) Jessica Merrill (Reston), 161, 4 and 3WILLIAMSBURG -- Pairings and starting times for the quarterfinal round of match play at the 87th VSGA Women's Amateur Championship at the Golden Horseshoe Golf Club's Gold Course (5,770 yards, par 36-36--72) on Thursday, July 12 (stroke play qualifying score indicated).
All Times EDT