Blumenherst advances in U.S. Women's Amateur

Blumenherst advances in U.S. Women’s Amateur

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Amanda Blumenherst was already down three holes Wednesday when she cleared the green on the fifth hole and found a bunker.

The reigning three-time NCAA Division I player of the year turned to her caddie, uncle Bill Blumenherst, for help.

“I looked at him and said, ‘What’s happening?”’ Blumenherst said. “He said, ‘It’s all right, there’s lots of golf left. Let’s turn it on right now.’ And I had a really good up and down and kind of turned it on.”

She rebounded from a slow start to beat Lizette Salas 2 and 1 in the first round of match play in the 108th U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Blumenherst, the Duke star from Scottsdale, Ariz., secured a spot Thursday in the round of 32 with a birdie on the par-4 17th hole at Eugene Country Club.

The round of 16 also will be played Thursday.

Blumenherst was the second seed for the start of match play based on her performance in 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying. Salas, from Azusa, Calif., was the 63rd seed.

Blumenherst lost the first two holes to Salas with bogeys, and a double-bogey 6 on the fourth put Blumenherst down three. But she didn’t lose another hole, winning the eighth, 10th and 12th to tie the match.

Blumenherst won the 15th with a par 4, and both players parred the par-5 16th before Blumenherst finished the match on the 17th.

“I think it’s great that I fought back,” Blumenherst said. “I’ve never actually done this before, where I’ve been down that much.”

Salas narrowly qualified for Wednesday’s first round of match play. She was one of 10 players at the 36-hole cut line at 8-over 152 Tuesday.

In a playoff, Salas advanced to match play with a birdie on the second extra hole. Salas was a member of Southern California NCAA championship team that ended Duke’s three-year title run this year.

Australian Stephanie Na, a co-medalist in the stroke play, beat Kelley Louth of Corpus Christi, Texas, 3 and 1. Na went ahead four through seven holes while playing even par to that point. But then her driver let her down, and that allowed Louth to climb back within two after the 10th hole. Twice on the back nine, Na went back ahead by three holes, and both times Louth cut the deficit to two. Na finally finished it with a par on the par-4 17th.

In other matches, NCAA champion Azahara Munoz of Arizona State avoided an upset with a 2-and-1 win against Alison Lee, at 13 the youngest player in match play.

The eighth-seeded Munoz, from Spain, never trailed, though the match was still all-square through six holes. Munoz made a par 3 on the 187-yard seventh hole to take the lead for good and followed that with an eagle 3 on the par-5 eighth to go two up.

“I just found out that she was 13 this morning, and I was impressed,” Munoz said. “She’s going to be amazing. She hits 3 woods straighter than I hit my wedge. She’s unbelievable.”

Munoz was coming off Tuesday’s low 18-hole round of 68 to finish 36 holes at 1-under 143. Lee, the 57th seed from Valencia, Calif., shot 151.

Fourth-seed Whitney Neuhauser of Barboursville, Va., was all-square with 61st seed Kristen Park, of Buena Park, Calif., through nine holes before going on to win 3 and 2.

Thirteen-year-old Pearl Jin of San Gabriel, Calif., carded five birdies in a six-hole span to pull away from 10th-seed Victoria Tanco of Argentina for a 6-and-4 victory.

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