August 8, 2015
It was a hectic week for 15-year-old Jessica Luo of San Jose, but it ended perfectly.
A junior at Lynbrook High, Luo was again the definition of steady on the course, leading to a 5 and 3 win over San Ramon’s Yoonhee Kim in Saturday’s 18-hole finale of the annual California Women’s Amateur Championship at par-72 Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club. With the victory, Luo, who was making her CWAC debut, joins an impressive list of former champions including current LPGA Tour members Mina Harigae and Natalie Gulbis and women’s golf legend Juli Inkster.
“It’s surreal and amazing,” said Luo, who played her final 31 holes of the championship at 1-under par with just two bogeys. “It’s my first time playing in this event. When I saw the list of champions…it’s just incredible.”
Now a member of that club herself, Luo didn’t just deal with the stress of competition all week. Following Monday’s stroke play qualifying round, she drove back home to San Jose, only to find out that her Tuesday Round of 64 tee time was around 7 :15 a.m. Luo and her father got a hotel room for Tuesday night, but each day on, and with each win that moved her further in the brackets, Luo had to find a new hotel room to stay in.
Call it one of the other caveats of match play.
“There were a lot of hotel rooms and a lot of different beds. It was very hectic,” Luo said. “Thankfully, my mother and brother came down on Friday and brought me some different clothes.”
Over her six matches, the only time Luo ever trailed was in the semifinals versus Benicia’s Kathleen Scavo. The deficit only lasted four holes. In the quarterfinals, the No.9 seeded Luo knocked off No.1 seed Alison Lillie of Fullerton, 5 and 3.
Against Kim, it was again just making pars that made the big difference. Again, Luo also set the tone early. She’d jump out to a quick 2-up through the first two holes thanks in part to a birdie on the par-5 1st after her stiffing her approach within a few feet of the flagstick.
Kim cut the deficit to 1-up after a rare Luo bogey on the par-3 5th, but from there Luo, a member of the Junior Tour of Northern California, never wavered.
“I try never to think of results. You never know what’s going to happen. I just take it shot by shot,” Luo said. “It was great playing with Yoonhee. Her and her mom are the best.”
Kim, 17, who had her mother Suzanne on the bag as caddie, couldn’t find a rhythm on the back-nine. The No.2 seed bogeyed holes No.10, No.12 and No.13 to push Luo’s lead to 4-up with five holes to play. On the par-5 15th, Kim’s second shot went out of bounds, leading to a double-bogey.
“This is the farthest I’ve ever gone in this championship. It’s a great field. I’m not upset with how I played,” said Kim, who’s already verbally committed to UC Davis for the fall of 2016. “I just wasn’t getting yardages right, both on the green and in the fairways. Jessica is a great person.”
August 7, 2015
It’s down to two high school teenagers.
Yoonhee Kim, a senior at Dougherty Valley High in San Ramon, and Jessica Luo, a junior at Lynbrook High in San Jose, booked reservations into the 18-hole championship match of this year’s California Women’s Amateur Championship at par-72 Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club after winning both their quarterfinals and semifinals matches on Friday.
The No.2 seeded Kim, who’s already verbally committed to UC Davis for 2016, was brought to tears after defeating friend and No.3 seed Anna Zhou on the 20th hole. After shaking hands, Kim apologized to Zhou, telling her ‘I’m sorry.’
“I don’t like playing my friends, said Kim, who has played for years with Zhou on Northern California’s junior golf circuits. “I’m really proud of Anna.”
Things looked dire for Kim after Zhou, who’s headed to Harvard this fall, won the 17th with a par to take a 1-up lead. Kim hung in there, however, and won the 18th with a par to force extra holes. On the 20th hole (the par-3 17th), Zhou’s tee shot bounded left off the green, leading to a bogey.
The only other time that Kim had led during the match was on No.11, where she also won with par.
“It was probably the hardest match I’ve ever had. She was up on me the whole time. My mindset was to just hang in there,” said Kim, who was helped along the way by her mother and caddie, Suzanne.
Luo, 15, had a comeback of her own to knock off No.13 seed Kathleen Scavo.
Seeded No.9 and trailing early by two, Luo squared up the match with a par on the 10th hole and later took a 1-up lead on the 13th when Scavo made another bogey. On the 14th, Scavo hit into the water hazard leading to another Luo win. The match ended with Scavo carding another bogey to Luo’s par on the 16th when Scavo flew her approach shot over the green into heavy rough.
“I grew up watching Kathleen playing on the junior tours, and she’s a very formidable opponent,” Luo said. “To play with her was an honor. To beat her was a little bit surprising.”
Over her 16 holes, Luo played even-par. Scavo, who’d headed to the University of Oregon, went 3-over with five bogeys.
Not lost on both Kim and Luo is the club they are looking to join. Former winners of the California Women’s Amateur championship include LPGA Tour members Mina Harigae and Natalie Gulbis and women’s golf legend Juli Inkster.
“It’s an incredible list of champions,” Luo said. “To have that chance is such an honor.”
Saturday morning’s 18-hole finale will tee off at 7:56 a.m.
August 6, 2015
When the day began, there were still 32 players left alive in the brackets. By sundown, only eight remained.
No.1 seed Alison Lillie and No.2 seed Yoonhee Kim were among the eight players advancing to the quarterfinals of this week’s annual California Women’s Amateur Championship after a grueling Wednesday at par-72 Quail Lodge Golf Club.
Lillie, a junior at the University of San Francisco, moved on with a 4 and 3 win over No.16 Desiree Gillaspy, while Kim, a senior at Dougherty Valley High in San Ramon, advanced with a 2 and 1 Round of 16 victory over No.47 seed Simar Singh. Just a month ago, Singh won the California Junior Girls’ State title at Quail Lodge.
Down one through the first nine, Kim brought the match back to all-square with a birdie on the 10th. A hole later on the 11th, another Kim birdie gave her a 1-up lead. The pair halved the next five holes, with Kim closing things out thanks to another birdie on the par-3 17th.
Having received a Round of 64 bye, Lillie needed to dig deep to stay alive in her morning match versus No.32 Amanjoty Sangha of San Mateo. With a birdie on the 14th, Lillie took what appeared to be a commanding 3-up lead. Sangha didn’t give in, however, winning both the 15th and 17th holes to cut Lillie’s lead to 1-up heading to the 18th. The two would halve the final hole, giving Lillie a 1-up win.
No.3 seed Anna Zhou, the runner-up at this year’s San Francisco City Championship, had her own close call in the Round of 16. Concord resident Yealimi Noh, who won the 2014 California Junior Girls’ State title and lost to Singh in this year’s finals, pushed Zhou to extra holes before Zhou emerged with a 19th hole win after draining an eagle putt on the par-5 1st.
Also surviving the day was No.5 seed Ashley Noda of Roseville. Noda, who plays at Santa Clara University, won her morning match with a par on the 19th hole and followed that up with a 1-up win over No. 12 Andrea Wong in the afternoon.
Fullerton’s Stephanie Lau, the No.4 seed, was not as fortunate, getting eliminated in the Round of 16 by Benicia’s Kathleen Scavo, 3 and 2.
Scavo, who’s headed to the University of Oregon and played in this U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship with Lucy Li, took a 1-up lead with a par on No.5 and never lost the lead from there. At No.13, Scavo is the highest seed left alive in the brackets.
Others advancing to the quarterfinals were No.9 Jessica Luo, who cruised to a 7 and 6 Round of 16 win, No.7 Erika Salinas and No.6 Jiyoon Jang.
In Friday morning’s quarterfinals, Lillie will take on Luo, while Scavo will face Noda. The other two matches will be Kim versus Salinas and Zhou taking on Jang.
The quarterfinals will begin at 7:16 a.m., with the semifinals set to start at 12:04 p.m.
Former winners of the championship include current LPGA Tour members Mina Harigae and Natalie Gulbis and legend Juli Inkster.
August 5, 2015
There were a number of big wins, but none of the top seeds found themselves the victim of an upset.
No.2 seed Yoonhee Kim, No.3 seed Anna Zhou and No.4 Stephanie Lau all moved on through the Round of 64, as match play began at this week’s California Women’s Amateur Championship at par-72 Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club.
Kim, a senior at Dougherty Valley High in San Ramon, turned on the jets on the back-nine to get by No. 63 seed Virgie Velazquez, 3 and 2. All-square through the first eight holes, Kim won hole No.9 and later won holes No.11 through No.13 in succession to take the victory.
Kim’s win was a lot of work compared to the victories by Zhou and Lau.
Zhou, the runner-up at this year’s San Francisco City Amateur, cruised to an 8 and 6 opening win, while Lau, who hails from Fullerton, marched on with a 7 and 6 victory.
No.1 seed Alison Lillie didn’t have to play in the Round of 64. Lillie, a junior at the University of San Francisco who also resides in Fullerton, will open Thursday morning’s Round of 32 against No.32 Amanjoty Sangha of San Mateo.
Other players starting off with big wins were Jiyoon Jin of Rancho Mirage (6 and 5), Alexandra Sborov of Pleasanton (7 and 6) and Orcutt’s Desiree Gillaspy (7 and 6).
Jessica Fore, who won the NCGA Junior Championship in 2014, squeaked out a 19th hole win over Katherine Zhu of San Jose. Rocklin’s Lynne Cowan, who was looking for a record fifth CWAC title, was ousted by Emily Rotter of Fremont, 2 and 1.
Thursday’s play will consist of both the Round of 32 in the morning and the Round of 16 in the afternoon. Friday’s action will consist of the quarterfinals and semifinals. The 18-hole championship match will tee off Saturday morning.
Past champions of the CWAC include current LPGA Tour members Mina Harigae and Natalie Gulbis and legend Juli Inkster.
August 4, 2015
Fullerton’s Alison Lillie and Yoonhee Kim of San Ramon will be the top two seeds when the match play portion of this week’s California Women’s Amateur Championship gets underway on Wednesday.
Playing at par-72 Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club in Carmel Valley, Lillie and Kim finished Tuesday’s stroke play qualifying portion of the championship with identical scores of 3-under 69. Lillie got the No.1 seed with Kim receiving the No.2 seed.
A junior at University of San Francisco who originally hails from Fullerton, Lillie posted five birdies to go with a pair of bogeys. Kim, a member of the Junior Tour of Northern California and a senior at Dougherty Valley High, had a much more interesting day, penciling in seven birdies to go with just a bogey and a triple-bogey on the para-5 15th.
Palo Alto’s Anna Zhou, was the runner-up at this year’s San Francisco City Championship, earned the No.3 seed after coming in with a 71 that featured three birdies and a double-bogey on the par-5 14th.
The No.4 seed will be Fullerton’s Stephanie Lau, who shot 72.
Benicia resident Kathleen Scavo, who’s headed to the University of Oregon this fall, finished with a 75 to earn the No.13 seed. Scavo won the California Junior Girls’ State title in both 2012 and 2013 and recently reached the Round of 16 at the U.S. Junior Girls’ Amateur Championship. Concord resident Yealimi Noh, who won the California Junior Girls’ State crown in 2014, also shot 75 and is the 14th seed.
San Mateo’s Kiran Sangha, coming off a victory at the recent Junior Tour of Northern California Tour Championship, had a 76 and will be the No.20 seed. Simar Singh of Los Altos (seed No. 47), the winner of this year’s California Junior Girls’ State title, shot 82.
Lynne Cowan of Rocklin, who is going for a record fifth CWAC title, had a 76. The No.23 seeded Cowan, who won the event in 1999, 2000, 3005 and 2007, shares the record for most wins with Shelley Hamlin and current LPGA Tour member Mina Harigae.
Lillie will get an instant break by claiming the No.1 seed. She received a bye for the Round of 64.
Wednesday’s action will feature the Round of 64 of match play. Thursday’s play will consist of the Round of 32 and Round of 16, with Friday’s play featuring the quarterfinals and semifinals. The 18-hole championship match will be held Saturday morning.