On Thursday afternoon at Old Waverly Golf Club, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Round of 16 ended amid steep humidity and temperatures that went close to 100 Fahrenheit. The participants stated that proper hydration and mental strength enabled them to play two rounds, over 11 hours of golf from start to finish in those conditions.
Albane Valenzuela said of the heat, “It was definitely challenging, my hands are pretty sweaty so my caddy had to give me like a towel every single hole just to keep them dry because a few times (the club) slipped out of my hands.”
The day’s heat didn’t suffocate Valenzuela or her skilled opponents though she fell behind early in the Round of 32. She recorded three straight birdies starting on the 14th against Brynn Walker in her first match of the day to win 1 up. Seeded 13th in match play, Valenzuela put away her second match much more quickly, finishing the day with a 4-and-3 win over Megan Schofill to punch her ticket to the quarterfinals.
The Stanford senior said that the keys to making it in the quarterfinals were patience and consistency. “You have to be very patient,”
“I think that’s the key to this tournament. My match this morning was really tight. I could’ve lost. And this afternoon, I had it more control so anything can happen at any time.”
The highest-ranked players at the Amateur, stroke play co-medalist Alexa Pano and Andrea Lee, had a nail-biter Round of 16 matches, the most interesting matchup of the day. Pano missed a putt for par to extend the match and bogeyed the final hole which resulted to Lee winning in 23 holes. Lee, the nation’s No. 2-ranked amateur, forced extra holes with a long putt on 18 after winning her first match of the day, 4-and-3 over Brooke Matthews.
The 16-year-old who is the second-highest ranked amateur in the field at No. 3, Lucy Li, made the quarterfinals in this tournament for the second straight year with a birdie on the 17th hole to card a 2-and-1 win over Pimnipa Panthong. Li, who holds records as the youngest qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2013 and the U.S. Women’s Open in 2014, won her first match of the day 5-and-4 over Amanda Doherty with a birdie on 14. She totaled five birdies and a bogey in her Round of 32 win.
Li said after the Round of 32 that that day she was just hitting it really solid, hitting it really good, putting perfectly. It was just a really solid round. Tee times for the quarterfinal round were moved up to 8:15 a.m. ET in anticipation of inclement weather Friday afternoon. Valenzuela was indifferent to the tee times moving from 3 p.m. ET with only one round of golf to play on Friday.
“I mean, I’ll go to bed early anyway,” she joked. “It’s the same for my opponents so it doesn’t matter.”