Koo Headlines Four Qualifiers for U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship

Qualifying for the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is officially underway – Jasmine Koo, Suthavee Chanachai, Marley Moncada and Han-Hsuan Yu each earned her respective spot to Westchester Country Club, Aug. 2-8, after finishing in the top four at Papago Golf Club on Wednesday.

Koo, of Cerritos, Calif., earned medalist honors by one stroke. She finished at four-under-par after posting a -4 (32) on the back nine alone.

“It feels great, I played really well out there,” said Koo. “I am just super excited to go to New York, especially as a junior. [It’s] really good to compete against older players and get this experience.”

This marks Koo’s first-ever U.S. Women’s Amateur. At 13, she qualified as the youngest player in the field for her first USGA Championship at the 2019 U.S. Girl’s Junior Championship.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself because I was the youngest,” Koos said referring to her 2019 appearance. “This year I am just going to go out and play – I’m going to think of myself as the same as everyone else, focusing on enjoying myself out there.”

Chanachai of Bangkok, Thailand, and Moncada of Tucson, Ariz., picked up the second and third qualifying spots after each finishing three-under-par. Moncada turned in an impressive five-under-par 31 coming in, birding all but three holes on the final nine en route to earning a trip to her first-ever U.S. Women’s Amateur.

“Being a junior golfer and not in college, it means a lot,” Moncada said. “It really boosts my confidence knowing I can stay with them and compete at longer yardages.”

Chanachai, a two-time WAC Player of the Year at New Mexico State University, plans on attending LPGA Tour Qualifying School following her first U.S. Women’s Championship appearance later summer.

Oklahoma State rising senior Han-Hsuan Yu of Taoyuan, Taiwan, secured the final coveted ticket to New York after turning in a two-under-par 70.

“It means a lot because I have not played a U.S. Amateur in a while,” Yu said. “I really want to play in this tournament. I’m super excited.”

The U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, a tournament many consider the ultimate test in women’s amateur golf, is one of 14 championships conducted by the United States Golf Association (USGA). With a record 1, 520 applications accepted by the USGA for the event, 156 competitors will play this August for a chance to hoist the Robert Covey Cox Trophy.  For the second time in U.S. Women’s Amateur history, Westchester Country Club’s famed West Course is set to host the championship.

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Carlson, Horn, Wayment and Peterson Win Southern Am Titles

By: Kade Peterson
USGA P.J Boatwright Jr, Communications Intern

Four champions were crowned in the Arizona Southern Amateur at the Gallery Golf Club’s North Course in Tucson, played June 26-27. Jake Carlson (Open), Charlie Horn (Legends), Brad Wayment (Seniors) and Paige Peterson (Masters) took home silverware in their respective divisions.

Carlson posted scores of 72-67 to finish at -5 overall, two shots clear of Reece Nilsen. He made eight birdies in his final round, crediting sticking to his game plan for coming through with the win.

“I just had to commit – let it go and not second guess myself,” said Carlson. “I played to the course and hit the shots needed.”

Carlson rattled off three straight birdies on 15 through 17 on Sunday, and watched eagerly as the final groups came in without a score matching his -5.
“This win means a lot, it’s a confidence builder for sure,” said Carlson. “A lot of good players in the field, so it’s awesome. It’s been a while.”

Horn slept on the lead after an opening round -1 (71), and followed up with an even-par 72 to finish three strokes ahead of Frank Ellenburg. He credited consistent play for coming out on top of the leaderboard.

“I hit probably 16 greens each day,” said Horn. “So I didn’t make a lot of putts but I made a lot of pars. Just one double bogey. Other than that it was pretty clean.”
Horn made seven birdies throughout the two-day tournament and was able to limit his mistakes on the North Course, becoming his recipe for victory.

“In our age group it’s nice to compete against the guys you have played with for 30-40 years,” Horn said. “Anybody can win, so I just feel fortunate it was my turn.”

In the Senior Division, Wayment shot 72-74 to finish two shots ahead of Marc Apps. Wayment said ball striking was a key to playing good golf.

“The first day I hit a lot of fairways and greens,” said Wayment. “It was very difficult to read these greens and make putts, but I hit the ball really well.”

The second day played a little more difficult, but Wayment played his final nine holes in even par, including a birdie on 17, to secure his win.
“I didn’t hit it as well, but I was able to make a couple more putts,” said Wayment. “Getting at some of those pins was pretty difficult.”

Finally, Peterson earned the win in the Masters division after posting consecutive 74’s, with his +4 overall good enough to finish one shot ahead of Eric Goldapske and Scott Smith. Peterson began the second round three shots behind Smith, and made the turn five strokes behind, before turning things around on the back nine.

“The key to success was not giving up,” Peterson said. “I hit the ball well today, I didn’t miss a fairway and only missed two greens.”

He played the last nine hole stretch in one under par, making par on 18 where Smith made bogey to win by one.

“On a course like this with the desert in play you just have to commit to your shot, commit to your lines,” said Peterson.

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Fountain Hills Resident Jeff Lessig Elected to Professional Golfers Association National Board of Directors

Fountain Hills, AZ –Jeff Lessig has been elected to the Professional Golfer’s Association of America’s (PGA) national Board of Directors.

A Life Member of the PGA, Lessig, a resident of Fountain Hills, has managed a number of area golf courses including We-Ko-Pa Golf Club (Fort McDowell), Verde River Golf & Social Club (Rio Verde) and Sun Ridge Canyon Golf Club (Fountain Hills).
As a member of the board, Lessig will serve a four-year term representing PGA District 14 which includes Arizona, Clark County, NV (Las Vegas), Washington, Oregon, and portions of Idaho and Montana.

Lessig is a past president of the Southwest Section PGA and has also served as Chairman of the PGA of America’s Communications and Public Relations Committee and asa member of the PGA’s Governance Taskforce.

The PGA of America is one of the world’s largest sports organizations, composed of nearly 29,000 PGA Professionals who work daily to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.


Hoops Wins Fifth Career Arizona Mid-Amateur Championship

by: Kade Peterson
USGA P.J Boatwright, Jr. Communications Intern

Bryan Hoops claimed his fifth Arizona Mid-Amateur Championship Sunday at Talking Stick Golf Club’s O’Odham Course. Hoops shot 66-65-68 to finish 11-under-par, five strokes ahead of Adam Walicki in second place.

Hoops credited improved patience in game management for the win.
“[It is] maturing and not being so aggressive,” said Hoops, the reigning Arizona Golf Association Player of the Year. “I can hit [long] shots, I like to hit long shots. Even if its 288 into a par five I used to rip three wood because I knew I could get it there. Now its just backing up and being less aggressive these days and live on my wedge and short game.”

Hoops got off to fast starts Friday and Saturday, including making birdies on his first four holes Saturday.
“The (opening holes) are shorter holes that you can make hay on early,” explained Hoops. “I have hit the ball well for weeks now, played really well at TPC Scottsdale (in the AGA Stroke Play Championship) but couldn’t make any putts up there. Here I made putts, so it was just about being patient and making some putts.”

Hoops also found success off the tee , also contributing to his success.
“My tee ball was the strongest part of my game,” said Hoops. “I was only in the dirt once in three days. Driver was good, pretty much hit it where I need to, right side, left side, and yardage.”

And even when he found himself out of position, Hoops found a way to score.
“[I had] a tough one on 14 over the bunker – In the right desert,” said Hoops. “I hit a good 8 iron to three feet and made birdie. That was one of the few times I was out of place, they are big, generous fairways.
“But being firm and fast for the most part, you don’t have to hit it very hard, you can just pick it apart, playing a chess game.”

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Back-to-Back: Miezwa Repeats Arizona Women’s Mid-Amateur Title

By: Kade Peterson
USGA P.J Boatwright, Jr. Communications Intern

Mari Miezwa successfully defended her Arizona Women’s Mid-Amateur title Sunday, shooting scores of 74-72-73 to finish at +9 overall at the Talking Stick – O’Odham Course. Miezwa finished five strokes ahead of Breinnan Kribel.

“I have never been a defending champion before, so that is really cool,” said Miezwa. “It is something I have wanted to do but not put too much pressure on myself. I think they are both great, to have the win last year and this year. So, we will see if we can keep going.”
Going into Sunday’s final round, Miezwa had a six-stroke lead, but did not change her strategy.
“I was trying to focus on the same things I had been doing the first two rounds, just worry about me and not the others,” said the 2020 Champion, also at Talking Stick’s O’Odham Course.

Miezwa’s consistency throughout the weekend separated her from the rest of the leaderboard, highlighted by a standout short game.
“I putted really well the first couple days, got up and down to save pars that kept me in it,” said Miezwa.
She was able to capitalize on Saturday’s round, posting a 72 on a day that saw low scores become a rarity. The cushion over Sunday playing partners Tui Selvaratnam and Kribel allowed Miezwa to coast to the win.

“It was awesome – it was a great group,” said Miezwa of her final round pairing, including 2015 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball partner Selvaratnam. “Tui, Bri and I have played together a couple times. It was a very comfortable pairing.”

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