Medalist Anderson, Kimberly Kim To Meet In Girls' Junior Final
By David Shefter, USGA
Bedminster, N.J. – Amy Anderson was all set to be sent home from the ball – aka the 61st U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship – on Friday afternoon at Trump National Golf Club when an angel came to the rescue.
When you hole out a 20-foot pitch for a match-saving par at the 18th hole, perhaps someone is watching over you. The 17-year-old from Oxbow, N.D., has been living a dream week since earning stroke-play medalist honors on Tuesday, and she added another chapter to the fairy tale with a dramatic 19-hole semifinal victory over 16-year-old Luz Alejandra Cangrejo of Colombia on the 6,289-yard, par-72 New Course.
Anderson’s opponent in Saturday’s 36-hole final on the New Course will be 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kimberly Kim, 17, of Hilo, Hawaii, who eliminated 16-year-old Doris Chen of Bradenton, Fla., 5 and 4.
Should Anderson win, she would be the first medalist to claim the Girls’ Junior title since Julieta Granada in 2004. And with U.S. Junior Amateur medalist Jordan Spieth also advancing to Saturday’s final at Trump National G.C., it’s the first time medalists in both championships have reached the final in the same year since 1991 (Tiger Woods and Emilee Klein).
In Friday’s quarterfinals, Anderson edged 2008 American Junior Golf Association Player of the Year Victoria Tanco, 15, of Argentina, 2 and 1, while Kim beat 17-year-old Jennifer Johnson of La Quinta, Calif., 1 up.
“It was definitely a miracle,” said Anderson of her chip-in at 18 for par that forced extra holes.
With Cangrejo facing a 4-foot par putt, Anderson knew she had to make the chip or her run at the Girls’ Junior would be finished. Her approach had skipped over the green into some gnarly rough. She chunked her third shot into the fringe.
After deciding with her brother/caddie Nathan Anderson to chip from the fringe instead of putting, Anderson deftly pitched the ball toward the hole. It took a couple of hops before diving in.
“I pulled it but it had a little cut spin on it,” said Anderson, who pulled the flagstick before the shot. “It broke right and right into the hole.”
Then at the first extra hole, the par-3 10th, Anderson found the putting surface some 20 feet from the flagstick before Cangrejo blocked her tee shot into the hazard, right of the green. Hours earlier, the two had made a mess of the hole, with Anderson winning with a double-bogey 5. Cangrejo admitted that earlier misfortune was on her mind before the tee shot, and after taking a drop, she failed to hole out from 100 yards away. Anderson comfortably two-putted for the victory.
“You learn more from your mistakes than your achievements,” said Cangrejo, who has verbally committed to Duke University for the fall of 2010. “I am happy with my result. I improved a lot from last year. This experience is motivation to practice more.”
In Thursday’s third round, Anderson defeated Alison Lee at the 18th hole when her 14-year-old opponent found the pond with her approach shot. Then on Friday morning, she knocked off one of the hottest junior players in Tanco, who claimed the Rolex Tournament of Champions three weeks ago and has qualified for two U.S. Women’s Opens (2008 and 2009).
In the semifinals, she trailed Cangrejo by as many as three holes before rallying with par wins on holes 16 and 17 to square the match.
“I feel really blessed,” said Anderson, who will enroll at North Dakota State in the fall. “If God is for you who can be against you?”
As Kim prepared for her semifinal match, she was worried about her putting. She took out a device just prior to the match to work on alignment and something must have clicked, because she was the equivalent of six under par over 14 holes, with the usual match-play concessions. That included an eagle-2 at the 267-yard, par-4 third hole, where she holed out from 57 yards with a 60-degree wedge.
Bidding to become the first player to win the U.S. Girls’ Junior after winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur (six others have won both but won the Girls’ Junior first), Kim built a 4-up lead at the turn and was five under par. Chen did have chances to cut into the deficit, but lipped out a 4-foot birdie putt at No. 11. Kim finished off the victory by rolling in a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-3 14th.
“I learned I have to make every putt the next time,” said Chen, who earlier on Friday eliminated 13-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, 3 and 2.
By advancing to this championship match, Kim joined a very elite fraternity of golfers who have advanced to finals in three different USGA amateur championships. That list includes Hall-of-Famer Carol Semple Thompson (U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and USGA Senior Women’s Amateur) and Philadelphia legend Jay Sigel (U.S. Junior Amateur, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur).
Earlier this year, Kim lost in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links final to Jennifer Song, 7 and 6, at Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, Mass.
“I really wouldn’t want to be runner-up twice in one summer,” said Kim, a 2009 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier and winner of the 2009 Rolex Girls Championship. “That’s kind of lame.”
In 2006, Kim lost the WAPL final to Tiffany Joh and won the Women’s Amateur two months later at Pumpkin Ridge, becoming at 14 the youngest-ever titlist in that championship.
As for experience, Kim said it won’t mean anything once she gets to the first tee.
“It’s just how you are playing that day,” said Kim.
One thing is for sure Anderson, despite being the No. 1 see, will be the underdog, a role she certainly has relished the past four days.
“It’s worked so far,” she said. “I think [the final] will be interesting.”
David Shefter is a USGA Digital Media staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.
Bedminster, N.J. – Results from the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play on Friday at the 61st U.S. Girls’ Junior at Trump National Golf Club. Matches contested on the 6,289-yard, par-72 New Course:
Amy Anderson, Oxbow, N.D. (141) def. Victoria Tanco, Argentina (147), 2 and 1
Luz Alejandra Cangrejo, Colombia (149) def. Kimberly Kaufman, Clark, S.D. (148), 4 and 3
Doris Chen, Bradenton, Fla. (152) def. Ariya Jutanugarn, Thailand (149), 3 and 2
Kimberly Kim, Hilo, Hawaii (149) def. Jennifer Johnson, La Quinta, Calif. (149), 1 up
Anderson def. Cangrejo, 19 holes
Bedminster, N.J. – Starting times and pairing for Saturday’s 36-hole championship match at the 61st U.S. Girls’ Junior being conducted at the 6,289-yard, par-72 New Course at Trump National Golf Club. (All times EDT):
8 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. – Amy Anderson, Oxbow, N.D. (141) vs. Kimberly Kim, Hilo, Hawaii (149)