Date: August 11, 2008

Stacey Keating blog: taking on the US Amateur

Stacey Keating writes: Well well what a week! I feel as though I m saying that every time I write, but we are just having the best time over here. We have now been here over two months and our time is nearly up! The US Amateur: the most prestigious amateur event in the world. After getting through our qualifying events earlier in our trip there are two rounds of stroke play and then the top 64 qualify for the match play. After coming off such a good week in Canada I was feeling pretty good heading into this event. My first round didn t go exactly the way I would have liked, with two balls in the water in the first six holes, I got out of it with a +4, 76, so was still feeling that a reasonable round would get me into the match play. Steph Na got off two a great start with a -3, 69 to be only 2 shots back from the leaders. In this -3 she had 7 birdies. Very impressive on a course where the greens were like ice and the rough like a cabbage patch! On the second day I couldn’t get anything going and really struggled in every aspect and finished at +7, 79, knowing this would not get me into the cut I found myself quite disappointed but very interested in how my traveling partner was going. Steph shot another impressive round of -1, 71. The only player in the 156 player field to shoot two consecutive rounds under par. This very impressive score of -4 won her the position of tied medallist. This was very exciting, and I will go out on a limb here and say that no one from Australia has ever been medalist in the US Amateur. I knew I was a spectator for the reminder of the tournament. Not ideal but really wanting to give Steph as much support as possible. Her first match she played Kelley Lough from Texas. Both players were struggling from tee to green but Steph took the match on the greens. She took her first round match 3&1. So was now into the top 32, another great achievement! Round two- She played a girl Sydney Burlison from California. This proved to be one of Steph s tougher matches. After 11 holes Steph was 3 down. Then Steph stepped up a gear and after winning the next two holes the momentum had really swung Steph s way! Then the real turn around came on the 16th hole. It&aposs fair to say Steph hit one of her worst drives all day yet fortunately was able to get it back out onto the par 5 fairway and hit the green in regulation. Then she holed a bomb! So after being 3 down only 5 holes ago she is now stood on 17th tee one up. Through a 3 putt error from her opponent Steph took a regulation par and the match. In her afternoon match, she played Kristina Wong ffrom New York. The front nine went hole for hole, but standing on 16th tee she was 2 down, but kept her chin up and never looked as though she wasn t going to win. Steph again showed great fighting spirit. With a birdie on 16 and par on 17th allowing her to stand on 18th tee one up. Another regulation par gives Steph the match and a spot in the top 8 of the Women’s US Amateur! Her next opponent was Spain s Azahara Muonzo who is the current NCAA champion. This was always going to be a tough match, with both girls showing lots of form in both stroke rounds and previous matches. Muonzo got a of to a great start winning the first two holes of the day with a birdie and par. Then halved the next two holes with a birdie and bogey. Tough school halving in birdies! Then Muonzo birdied the next two holes in a row to go to 3 up through 6 holes. After another birdie from Steph (showing great fighting spirit) and another from Muonzo before Steph knew it Muonzo had had 5 birdies on the front 9 and Steph was 6 down. Unfortunately for Steph it wasn t to be and the match was concluded on the 12th: 7&6. Although Steph I m sure is disappointed in the result but what a tournament she has had. Twice coming from well down in her match to win it and all throughout her final match never gave up. Huge congratulations to her. So now Steph is flying home and I am on my way to Canada for the Canadian Open, my first LPGA event which I am very, very excited about!