Amateur Cappeliez Medalist at U.S. Women’s Open Qualifier in Florida

Rounds of 68-70 earned France's Mathilda Cappeliez, 16, medalist honors in her first attempt at qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open. (USGA/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Rounds of 68-70 earned France's Mathilda Cappeliez, 16, medalist honors in her first attempt at qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open. (USGA/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Friday, May 30, 2014

By Lisa D. Mickey

VERO BEACH, Fla. – French amateur Mathilda Cappeliez earned medalist honors and entry into the 2014 U.S. Women's Open Championship at a  sectional qualifier conducted at Quail Valley Golf Club on May 30.

The 16-year-old high school student carded rounds of 68-70 on the 6,399-yard, par-72 layout to finish at 6-under 138 in her first attempt to qualify for the Women’s Open.

“I’m very happy, but now in France, it’s very, very late, so I can’t call anybody at home to tell them,” said Cappeliez.

Cappeliez credited her iron play in the 36-hole qualifier, hitting 16 greens in regulation in the afternoon round to finish three shots ahead of professional Karlin Beck, of Montgomery, Ala., and amateur Emily Penttila, of Finland, both of whom finished at 3-under 141. All three players qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open, which is scheduled to be contested June 19-22 at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club’s Course No. 2. The Women’s Open will follow the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, the first time in history that both championships will be conducted on the same course in back-to-back weeks.

Isabelle Lendl, of Goshen, Conn., the daughter of eight-time Grand Slam tennis champion Ivan Lendl, held the first-round lead with a 5-under 67, but settled for first alternate after a second-round 75 (2-under 142).

Jessica Alexander, of Riverview, Fla., earned the second alternate spot via a two-hole playoff with Emma Albrecht, Ashley Burke and Christina Miller after all four finished at 1-under 143.

Beck, 26, a third-year professional who plays on the LPGA and Symetra Tours, birdied her last two holes to punch a ticket to her first Women’s Open. The Auburn University graduate drained a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 8, and then capped her day with a 3-foot birdie putt on No. 9.

“My game plan was to play steady and not force anything,” said Beck, who admitted to having a balky putter coming into the qualifier. “I haven’t been playing well and my confidence wasn’t high, but it’s nice to see the results of the practice I put in for this.”

Penttila, 21, who just completed her sophomore year at Tulane University, qualified for the Women’s Open on her first attempt. The 2014 Conference USA player of the year recorded a bogey-free 68 in the afternoon round with four birdies.

“This course has a lot of birdie opportunities and it’s always nice to play a course with good greens,” she said. “I’m super excited to qualify for the Open and to check out the best women players in the world.”

The bid of 9-year-old Alexa Pano, of Lake Worth, Fla., to become the youngest qualifier in U.S. Women’s Open history ended with rounds of 90-85. But the youngster, who qualified for the finals of the 2014 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship in April at Augusta National Golf Club, said the experience of playing her first 36-hole competition was valuable.

“I learned that even if I’m playing really bad, I should still stick with it,” she said. “I improved by five shots in my second round, so this was the best experience ever.”

Former LPGA Tour winner Charlotta Sorenstam, of Sweden, posted rounds of 74-73 to finish at 147. Sorenstam heads up the instruction at the ANNIKA Golf Academy in Reunion, Fla., for her sister, Hall of Famer and three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Annika Sorenstam.

“I don’t get to practice much anymore, but I played really well in spite of hitting two shots over the green,” said Charlotta.

Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.

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