Seventeen Earn Spots Through First Women’s Open International Qualifiers
By David Shefter, USGA
In recognition of the global growth and strength of women’s golf, the USGA for the first time conducted international sectional qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open at four sites – three in Asia and another in England – on May 19.
Seventeen golfers earned their way into the field for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, which will be conducted June 19-22 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2. All 17 will be making their first appearance in the Women’s Open.
This 69th U.S. Women’s Open is historic in that it will be contested the week following the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, marking the first time the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open will be played on the same course in consecutive weeks.
A total of 73 golfers – mostly from the Ladies European Tour – vied for eight spots at Buckinghamshire (England) Golf Club outside London. Amy Boulden, 20, of Wales, a member of the victorious 2012 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup Team, was the medalist at 2-under-par 142, one stroke ahead of Kelsey MacDonald, of Scotland, and Nicole Garcia, of South Africa.
“I’m very happy. I played very well today, so I’m very pleased,” said Boulden, who earned her first professional victory two weeks ago in a Ladies European Tour satellite event in Switzerland. “I knew there were a lot of good players, but I still felt quite confident. I’ve grown up playing with a lot of the girls playing, so I just tried to play my own game and I knew that if you were under par you were probably going to qualify here. It’s one of the biggest majors, so I’m looking forward to going to the States and playing against the best players in the world.”
Added Garcia: “It is my first year on [the Ladies European] tour, so I didn’t expect to make it. It’s quite exciting. I’ve been so nervous playing in the LET tournaments, so I think I’m going to be incredibly nervous when I go there and I’ll have no expectations. Hopefully that works and I’ll play well.”
MacDonald and Boulden are good friends and are excited that they both have made the field at Pinehurst.
“You know you’re competing against the best of Europe, so it’s just a fantastic feeling,” said MacDonald. “I was a couple under and I tried to play more conservatively, which went against me, so then I decided to just go back to playing aggressively. It’s great that Amy and I both qualified, because we’re good friends and both from the Robert Rock Academy, so he’ll be really proud of us.”
Stephanie Na and Nikki Campbell – both of Australia – joined England’s Lucy Williams, Rebecca Hudson and Holly Clyburn at even-par 144 to round out the qualifiers. Hudson (1998, 2000 and 2002) and Clyburn (2010 and 2012) are past GB&I Curtis Cup competitors, while Na was the co-medalist in the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.
Camilla Lennarth, of Sweden, and Beth Allen, of San Diego, garnered the first and second alternate spots, respectively, in a 4-for-2 playoff among finishers at 145.
At Higashi Nagoya Country Club in Japan, 67 players competed for five available spots. Misuzu Narita, 21, of Japan, was the medalist at 4-under 140. She finished one stroke ahead of six golfers who played off for the final four spots.
Ayaka Watanabe, Lala Anai, Eri Joma and 16-year-old amateur Chisato Hashimoto, who was playing on her home course, emerged from the playoff, leaving Mao Nozawa, an amateur, and Yuki Ichinose as the first and second alternates, respectively.
At Woo Jeong Hills Country Club in Chungnam, Korea, 36 golfers competed for two spots, with a pair of amateurs advancing. Narangyi Bae, 14, of Korea was the medalist at 2-under 142, one stroke ahead of 16-year-old So-young Lee, also of Korea.
One amateur and one professional garnered the two qualifying spots out of a field of 34 at the CGA Nanshan International Training Center (Garden Course) in the People’s Republic of China. So-Young Jang, 22, of Korea, shot 2-over-par 144 to earn medalist honors by three strokes.
"It was just my dream to play in U.S. Women’s Open." said Yang. "So I am happy that I have a chance to play there."
Amateur Yuting Shi, 16, of China, edged countrywoman Yuyang Zhang on the first playoff hole for the final spot after both shot 147. Hye In Yeom, of Korea, was the second alternate after shooting 149.
“To be able to play in the majors has always been my biggest dream," said Shi through an interpreter. "And now I’m so close to it. It’s hard to believe."
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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