Blumenherst advances Thompson ousted


USGAEUGENE, Ore. ' Stroke-play co-medalists Amanda Blumenherst, 22., and Stephanie Na, 19, both recorded victories during Wednesdays first round of match play at the U.S. Womens Amateur Championship at Eugene Country Club.
Blumenherst, the Womens Amateur runner-up a year ago, lost three of the first four holes in her match against 19-year-old Lizette Salas.
I dont know what happened out there, said Blumenherst. I just wasnt really in sync and I wasnt playing my game. I was just kind of out of it.
But the three-time NCAA Player of the Year from Duke was able to square the match after a birdie on No. 8 and pars on the 10th and 12th holes, and took her first lead with another par on the par-4 15th.
On the par-5 16th, Salas had a chance to square the match but missed a 10-footer for birdie.
I would definitely want that putt back, said Salas. That was a big one, and I just couldnt take advantage of the opportunity she gave me.
Salas tee shot on the next hole wound up behind a tree, and she eventually conceded the hole, and the match, to Blumenherst, who earned a 2-and-1 victory.
Despite her vast match-play experience, which includes two Curtis Cups and more than 10 USGA championships, Blumenherst said it was the first time she had come back to win a match after being 3 down.
I think its great that I fought back, said Blumenherst. Ive never actually done this before, where Ive been down that much. Usually Ive come back so its not embarrassing how much Ive lost by, but to actually come back and win on the 17th hole, I havent done that yet.
Na had a much easier time against Kelley Louth, 22, who survived a three-hole playoff that concluded Wednesday morning to earn the last spot in the match-play field. Na, who is playing in her first USGA championship, birdied the first hole to take a 1-up edge and was 4 up after seven holes en route to a 3-and-1 victory.
I started off really well and I was hitting it really good and I got off to a good start with a birdie, said Na, the 2008 Australian Stroke Play champion. I was really happy with the way I was going. We halved a couple of holes with bogeys but thats all you have to do in match play, it doesnt matter what the score is in the end.
Tiffany Joh, 21, and Alexis Thompson, 13, had their hopes dashed of becoming the seventh player in history to win two USGA championships in the same season after first-round losses Wednesday.
Jane Chin, 21, made a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole to eliminate Joh, the 2006 and 2008 U.S. Womens Amateur Public Links champion, 1 up.
The always-cheery Joh saw a silver lining in the close loss.
Obviously Im going to be disappointed but to be honest I was 2 down through 11, just coming back, Im not going to lie, I had a blast on the back nine, making a couple birdies when I really needed them, said Joh, who also played on the victorious 2008 USA Curtis Cup team. Its unfortunate the way that it ended, but I have to give myself a little pat on the back for how I played coming down the back nine.
Thompson, who had won the Girls Junior 10 days ago, trailed 4 down after 14 holes against Jennifer Hirano, 18, but won three consecutive holes to trail by one hole on No. 18. Thompson had an opportunity to win the hole but missed an 8-foot par putt that would have extended the match.
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