Medalists move on with double wins


USGAEUGENE, Ore. ' Stroke-play co-medalists Amanda Blumenherst, 21, and Stephanie Na, 19, both claimed two victories Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Womens Amateur Championship at Eugene Country Club.
Blumenherst, the three-time NCAA Player of the Year, recorded two easy victories, 4 and 3 over Nikki Koller in the second round and a 7-and-6 third-round victory over Ellen Mueller.
I am starting to get the course down now, said Blumenherst after playing just 27 holes in the two victories. Some of the fairways really kick one way or the other. It takes a few rounds to really get to know a course.
The victories brought the highly acclaimed Blumenherst closer to another shot to claim her first national title. A year ago, she lost a heartbreaking 1-down decision to Maria Jose Uribe in 36 holes at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind.
I was playing great last year too, said Blumenherst. I was hitting the ball really well and I feel like I am putting the ball better now.
Nas two matches were a different story. In her morning second-round match against Sydney Burlison, 18, Na trailed 3 down after 11 holes, but came back to earn a 2-and-1 victory. Her third-round match against Kristina Wong, 17, would be a close, seesaw affair, with neither player holding more than a 1-up advantage.
The turning point came on No. 16, when Na, 1 down, made a 27-foot birdie putt to square the match.
I was 1 down with a few to go and I needed to make a move sometime, said Na, the 2008 Australian Stroke Play champion who is playing in her first USGA championship. On 16, I have good feelings about that hole. I really like it. I hadnt holed anything really today, and I had an 8-meter putt and I just felt really good about it and it went straight in so that got me going.
A three-putt by Wong on No. 17 gave Na a 1-up lead. On the 18th, Wongs birdie putt from 25 feet stopped just short of the hole and Na converted her 3-footer for par to earn the 1-up victory.
Very relieved, said Na when asked how she felt after the win. Im really happy with myself that I could come back in the end and just never give up.
Another Womens Amateur rookie, Whitney Neuhauser, 20, also advanced, with a 1-up victory over 18-year-old Stephanie Kono.
Also reaching the quarterfinals were three Spaniards, as 18-year-old Carlota Ciganda, 19-year-old Belen Mozo and 20-year-old Azahara Munoz, the reigning Division I individual champion, all recorded two victories to advance.
The trio will team to represent their country at the Womens World Amateur Team Championship in Australia later this year, something they did two years ago in South Africa in leading Spain to an eighth-place finish.
Thats perfect because we are like the three best friends, said Ciganda about reaching the quarterfinals with her two compatriots. They are like my best friends so I am happy for them and thats really nice. We are having a lot of fun. Thats great to be the three of us here.
Erynne Lee, a 15-year-old and 19-year-old Chelsea Stelzmiller round out the quarterfinalists. Lee is playing in her fourth USGA championship, including this year's U.S. Womens Open, while Stelzmiller is playing in her first.
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