(Left to right) Emma Talley, Mariko Tumangan and
Alison Lee were competing in their fifth U.S. Girls’
Junior last week at Olympia Fields CC.
OLYMPIA FIELDS, ILLINOIS | Perhaps
the fifth time is the charm. Three players: Alison Lee, of Valencia, Calif., Emma
Talley, of Princeton, Ky., and Mariko
Tumangan, of San Jose, Calif., competed
in their fifth U.S. Girls’ Junior last week at
Olympia Fields CC.
All three girls showed off their experience and advanced past the stroke-play
portion of the championship. Talley fired
rounds of 75-71 (+ 2) to finish T4. Tumangan was right behind her in a tie for
seventh after rounds of 72-75 (+ 3). Lee
posted rounds of 74-77 (+ 7) to finish T33
and made it comfortably into match play.
Tumangan, the No. 11 seed, didn’t
make it out of the first round, falling
to Yueer Cindy Feng, of Orlando, by
a score of 6 and 5. Talley, No. 6, did a
little better, winning her first-round
match 5 and 3 over Andrea Unson, of
the Philippines, before falling to the
eventual runner-up Dottie Ardina,
2-up, in the next round.
Lee, the lowest ranked of the three
at No. 36, ended up doing the best. She
defeated Allisen Corpuz, of Honolulu, 3
and 2 in the first round, and edged out
Bryana Nguyen, of Columbia, Md., 1-up
to advance to the final 16. But she lost
a closely played match to Amy Lee, of
Brea, Calif., 1-up, to end her run.
When Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn
made par on No. 17 (the 35th hole of the
match) in Satruday’s final to close out
Ardina 2 and 1, she completed the U.S.
Girls’ Junior sweep. To go along with
the title, Jutanugarn also took medalist
honors in the stroke-play portion of the
championship. The 15-year-old scorched
the South Course at Olympia Fields with
rounds of 68-72 to finish at 4-under-par
140, four strokes clear of her nearest
competitor. It marked the second con-
secutive year that Jutanugarn claimed a
stroke-play medal at a USGA champion-
ship. She was medalist at the 2010 U.S.
Women’s Amateur Public Links.
The cut this year to advance to
match play came at 10-over-par 154.
Lakareber Abe, of Arlington, Tex.,
Marissa Chow, of Honolulu, and Megan
Blonien, of Altus, Okla., advanced from
a six-way playoff to take the final three
spots in the match play field.
Last week, 156 competitors took to
the grounds of Olympia Fields, located
roughly 30 miles south of Chicago.
Of those players, 92 were competing in their first U.S. Girls’ Junior, and
furthermore, 83 of those young ladies
made the Girls’ Junior their first ever
Karen Chung, of Livingston, N.J.,
had one goal on her mind when the
week started at the U.S. Girls’ Junior:
She was determined to make it back
to the finals. Competing in her fourth
championship, Chung advanced to the
finals in 2008 where she lost to Alexis
Thompson. Three years later, the
16-year-old was back and looked well
on her way to accomplishing that goal.
lived when she bogeyed the very next
hole to lose the match, 6 and 5.
There was a pair of sisters in the field
last week. Lakareber and Tezira Abe, of
Arlington, Tex., grew up watching their
father, Daudi, play golf every Sunday.
But they never hit a shot. Finally, when
Tezira was 11 and Lakareber was 9,
Daudi took them to the First Tee of
Houston. Six years later, the sisters have
grown to love the game and were competing together in the U.S. Girls’ Junior.
Tezira missed the cut after posting
back-to-back rounds of 79 to finish at
14 over. She hung around to watch La-
kareber hit her approach shot to within
inches at the ninth hole, almost making
eagle. There was raucous applause,
led by Tezira. Daudi and their mother,
Fiora, celebrated the shot, too, then
turned to Tezira and suggested she
could caddie for her sister if she made
it to match play. Tezira did an about-
face and replied, “Uh, uh. I’m sleeping
in tomorrow. You’re crazy.”
In a display of how young talent can
compete at the highest of levels, there
were five players in the field last week
that participated in the U.S. Women’s
Open at The Broadmoor earlier this
month. Mariel Galdiano, 13, of Pearl
City, Hawaii; Jutanugarn, 15; Mariah
Stackhouse, 17, of Riverdale, Ga.; Tal-
ley, 17; and Gabriella Then, 15, of Ran-
cho Cucamonga, Calif., all got a taste of
the professional life when they teed it
up with the best women golfers in the
world in Colorado two weeks ago.
There were two pre-teens in the
field last week. Mika Liu, of Bradenton,
Fla., and Angel Yin, of Arcadia, Calif.,
were the youngest competitors at 12
years old. The oldest player in the field
was Anna Young from Canada, who
celebrated her 18th birthday on Friday.
Girls came from 35 states last week
to compete for the U.S. Girls’ Junior title.
Nine foreign countries were also represented at Olympia Fields: Argentina,
Canada, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Mexico,
the People’s Republic of China, the
Philippines, Puerto Rico and Thailand all
had players in the field as well. l