California Women’s Amateur Championship
July 20-24, 2020 | Pasatiempo GC
July 24, 2020
Mexico City native Sara Camarena made a splash in her Golden State debut.
Camarena, a 20-year-old junior at Cal State University-Fullerton, made a clutch par on the tough par-3 18th hole Friday at Pasatiempo Golf Course to hold off Katherine Zhu, 1-up, and win the 54th California Women’s Amateur Championship.
Camarena, who becomes the first foreign-born player to win the prestigious event, was making her debut competing as an adult in a non-collegiate event in California. She transferred to CSU-Fullerton this past Spring after playing at Oklahoma State. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she’d only play one event as a TItan.
“I’ve only really played in California as a junior,” said the No.18-seeded Camarena, who joins the likes of Patty Sheehan and Juli Inkster as winners of the event. “I’m happy, but I don’t think that it’s really sunk in yet.”
Holding a 2-up lead through 16 holes, it looked like Camarena would somewhat cruise to a win. On the par-4 17th, however, she pulled her approach shot left and out of bounds, leading to an eventual triple-bogey and loss. On the ensuing 18th, with the flagstick tucked front right adn the hole playing at 145 yards, the No.9 seeded Zhu hit a great shot that landed about 9 feet above the pin. Camarena hit an even better, shot, with her ball landing just 3 feet to the right of the flagstick. Zhu missed her birdie try, and the two eded up tying with pars.
“On the tee on 18 I knew I was still 1-up. She (Zhu) hit a nice shot. I just wanted to be on the safe side,” said Camarena, who hit a choked-up 8-iron off the tee. “I wanted to hit a draw but my ball actually just went straight. It worked out.”
Camarena came out strong, making birdies on holes 1 and 2 to jump to a quick 2-up lead. Zhu, a junior at Cal-Berkeley, later won holes 7 and 8 with pars to tie the match.
On the back-nine, Zhu’s putter started uncooperating. While Camarena’s kept hitting. Having lost the 11th hole after making a bogey, on No.12 Zhu missed a 3-footer for a potential tie. The two would tie the next four holes before heading to the 17th. Whenever it looked like Zhu had a chance to win a hole, Camarena either came up with a fantastic up-and-down or clutch putt to earn a tie.
“I had a slow start, and the putts just didn’t drop,” said Zhu, a former member of the Junior Tour of Northern California. “Once I started to pick things up, she started making these great up-and-downs. Everything was working for me early in the week. Today, it slowed down. I’m still satisfied with how I played.”
While Camarena had never seen Pasatiempo prior to the week, she became a quick study and fan of the Alister MacKenzie layoiut.
“I learned where to hit and where to miss it,” Camarena said. “A big thing for me all week I think was my focus. I would try to relax in between shots. It’s hard to focus the whole time.”
July 23, 2020
It’ll be NorCal vs.SoCal in the finals of this week’s annual California Women’s Amateur Championship at Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz.
Katherine Zhu, a junior at Cal Berkeley, and Sara Camarena, a junior at CSU-Fullerton, both earned spots in the 18-hole finale on a grueling Thursday that featured both the quarterfinals and semifinals.
The No.9 seeded Zhu, a former member of the Junior Tour of Northern California, punched her ticket via a decisive 4 and 3 semifinals win over No.21 Lauren Gomez. Already fatigued from the morning, Zhu was steady. She’d win holes Nos. 3, 6 and 9 with pars to build a commanding 3-up lead through the front-nine.
Gomez, a 17-year-old senior at Classical Academy HIgh who’s headed to Pepperdine University in 2021, managed to cut the deficit to 2-up with a win of her own on the tough, uphill par-4 11th hole. But Zhou, who hails from nearly San Jose, won hole No.13 with a birdie to push the lead back to 3-up.
On the ensuing 14th hole, Gomez lost another hole when her second shot, from the gulley area, sailed dead right and out of bounds. The two would tie on the 15th hole with pars, giving Zhou the win.
Camarena, a native of Mexico City and the No.18 seed, looked like she was going to run away early in her semifinals match against No.6 seed Nicole Neale. Camarena built a quick 4-up lead over Neale through just the first five holes thanks in part to an opening birdie on the par-5 1st, a par win on No.3 and another birdie win on the par-3 5th after she stiffed her tee shot to within 3 feet of the pin.
A freshman at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Neale won hole No.6 with a par to make it 3-up but could not get any closer. On the back-nine, the two exchanged wins in five of the first six holes. A par win on No.15 gave Camarena a 4 and 3 victory.
In the morning quarterfinals, Neale ousted defending champion Amari Avery, 1 -up. On the tough closing 18th, Avery hit her tee shot to the left of the pin, up on the higher ridge. Her first chip shot from above stayed in the rough. Her second chip attempt went rolling down the green. She’d concede to Neale, who’s struck a perfect tee shot to within 9 feet of the flagstick. Zhu cruised to a 6 and 5 win in the morning portion, with Camarena winning, 4 and 3. Zhu has not trailed in a match since early in the Round of 16.
Friday’s final will tee off at 7:30 a.m.
Past winners of the event include NCGA Hall of Famers Patty Sheehan, Sally Krueger, Lynne Cowan and Juli Inkster.
July 22, 2020
The brackets broke into pieces Wednesday at this week’s annual California Women’s Amateur Championship at Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz.
The damage was done in the afternoon Round of 16 of match play. No. 1 seed Sophie Zhang-Murphy got ousted by No.17 Caroline Canales, 3 and 2. No.2 seed Ellie Slama got sent home by No.18 Sara Camarena, 4 and 3. And No.4 Leigh Chien got knocked out by No.13 Nicole Schroeder, 3 and 2.
Canales, from Calabasas and a former State high school champion, next will face No.9 Katherine Zhu in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Against Zhang-Murphy, Canales did the damage after making the turn. She’d win holes Nos. 10-14 in succession to take a commanding 4-up lead that she never relinquished.
Slama, who plays out of Oregon State, got the reverse treatment. A Mexican national, Camarena came out ready. She’d play her first six holes at 3-under with birdies on holes Nos. 3, 4 and 6 to take a big 4-up lead through the first six holes. Another birdie win on the 9th and Camarena was holding a 5-up lead. She’d close out the match with yet another birdie later on the 14th.
A former standout on the Junior Tour of Northern California, Schroeder had a strong back-nine start in ousting Chien. Tied through nine holes, Schroeder opened the back-nine with three straight birdies to go 3-up. Chien closed the gap to 2-up with a birdie of her own on No.13, but Schroeder won holes 15 and 16 to seal the deal.
A survivor was defending champion Amari Avery of Riverside. Avery, the No.3 seed, held on for a late 2 and 1 Round of 16 victory over Katherine Muzi. Avery, who is looking to be the first back-to-back champion since Mina Harigae (2003-04), broke free from a duel with a clutch birdie on the 17th to close out the match.
The biggest statement in the Round of 16 came from No.6 Nicole Neale of Trabuco Canyon, who dispatched Alyson Bean, 6 and 5. Neale, who never trailed in the match, would go 3-under over the 13 holes. Neale, a freshman to be at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, never trailed in her Round of 32 match either.
The only two NorCal players left in the brackets are Schroeder and No.9 Katherine Zhu, a junior at Cal-Berkeley who hails from San Jose.
Everything in the morning Round of 32 pretty much held to form. One big upset was No.26 seed Bibilani Liu knocking out No.7 Annika Borrelli, 2 and 1, with a par victory on the par-4 17th hole. Borrelli is the defending NCGA Women’s Player of the Year.
Another early upset was No.8 Miranda Wang getting defeated by No.25 Zoe Campos, 3 and 2.
Thursday’s action will see the quarterfinals teeing off at 7:30 a.m., followed by the semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday’s 18-hole finale will tee off at 7:30 a.m.
Past winners of the event include NCGA Hall of Famers Patty Sheehan, Sally Krueger, Lynne Cowan and Juli Inkster.
July 21, 2020
The brackets are set as match play is ready to begin at this week’s annual California Women’s Amateur Championship at Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz.
On Tuesday, four players–Leigh Chien, Ellie Slama, Sophie Zhang-Murphy and defending champion Amari Avery–all finished stroke play qualifying with identical scores of even-par 144.
Following a draw, Zhang-Murphy will be the No.1 seed in the brackets, and will open versus No.32 Emiko Sverduk of Long Beach, who was one of those surviving a six-for-five playoff for the final spots in the brackets. Zhang-Murphy, who’s entering her junior year at Harker High School in San Jose, eagled the par-5 1st hole on her way to a second-round 73.
The No.2 seed went to first-round leader Ellie Slama of Salem, Oregon, who shot a 74. Slama, a senior at Oregon State, will take on No.31 Jasmine Chen. Chen, who’s entering her junior year of high school, is a top player on the Junior Tour of Northern California.
Avery, who is looking to be the first back-to-back champion since Mina Harigae (2003-04), will be the No.3 seed. The Riverside resident made a charge with a day-low score of 3-under 69, posting six birdies to go against three bogeys. She will open match play against No.30 Mika Jin of Fremont.
The No.4 seed went to Leigh Chien. Still just 14 years old, Chien, who carded a second-round 72, is a standout on the Southern Cal PGA Junior Tour. She will open versus No.29 Kaleiya Romero of San Jose.
The cut came at 9-over par 153. Among the notables failing to advance were 2019 runner-up Aman Sangha and recent NCGA Junior champion Madelyn Gamble.
The toughest hole on the day was the par-4 11th, which played at 377 yards to a stroke average of 5.15.
Both the Round of 32 and Round of 16 will be held on Wednesday. Thursday’s action will consist of the Quarterfinals and Semifinals, with the 18-hole Final being held on Friday.
Former winners of the event include NCGA Hall of Famers Patty Sheehan, Sally Krueger, Lynne Cowan and Juli Inkster.
At least for a day, Oregon resident Ellie Slama has bragging rights over her southern competitors.
Slama, a senior at Oregon State, took the lead in the stroke play qualifying portion of this week’s annual California Women’s Amateur Championship on Monday, posting a 2-under par 70 at Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz. The Salem native, whose 72,72 scoring average during the abbreviated 2019–2020 season was the second-lowest in team history, was solid on one of architect Alister MacKenzie’s toughest tests.
She’d post four birdies on the day, including three on the front-nine. Her lone hiccup was a double-bogey on the par-4 11th.
Three players–Whittier’s Briana Chacon, Miranda Wang of Pebble Beach and Saratoga’s Sophie Zhang-Murphy–are all T-2 after matching rounds of 71. Chacon, a sophomore at University of Oregon, carded three birdies and two bogeys. Wang, a senior at Duke University, and Zhang-Murphy, who’s entering her junior year at Harker High School, both had four birdies and three bogeys on their cards.
Defending champ Amari Avery of Riverside is T-19 after an opening 75.
Not surprisingly, the 200-yard par-3 3rd hole played the toughest, to a stroke average of 4.22, The tough hole dished out 53 bogeys among the field.
Two holes that are normally a par-4 (hole Nos. 1 and 10) are playing as par-5s for the championship.
Following Tuesday’s second round of stroke play qualifying, a cut will be made with the low 32 advancing to match play. On Thursday, both the Round of 32 and Round of 16 will be held. Thursday’s action will consist of the Quarterfinals and Semifinals, with the 18-hole Final being held on Friday.