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Elle Nachmann takes down Rose Zhang on day of upsets at U.S. Women's Amateur


It was a day of upsets Wednesday at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Not only did the top seed, medalist Rachel Kuehn, fall in the opening round of match play at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, but so, too, did seven of the top eight seeds, as well as Rose Zhang, far and away the top-ranked women’s amateur in the world and the event’s defending champion.

Then again, that’s match play.

Kuehn, a rising junior at Wake Forest, drew Kentucky’s Marissa Wenzler in the Round of 64. Wenzler had survived a 12-for-2 playoff a day earlier for the last ticket into match play, and she carried that momentum – which built upon her brilliant week last month at the Women’s Western Amateur, where she medaled and won the match-play title – into her bout with Kuehn.

Trailing 2 down through six holes, Wenzler birdied the par-5 ninth to tie the match back up before building a 2-up lead of her own. She would close out Kuehn on the par-5 18th hole with another birdie.

“Being the one seed comes with perks and cons,” Wenzler said. “When you're the one seed, I think it's more nerve-wracking because you're expected to play better and [win]. At the same time, when you're in an event like this, your seeding doesn’t matter.”

Early Highlights: 121st U.S. Women's Amateur

Early Highlights: 121st U.S. Women's Amateur

Added Kuehn, who became the fifth No. 1 seed since 2010 to lose in the opening round of match play: “Marissa played great. I had a couple bounces not go my way and a couple that went hers, and that's golf.”

Wenzler will be joined in Thursday morning’s Round of 32 by her college teammate, Jensen Castle, who was the other player to advance out of Tuesday evening’s playoff. Castle took down second-seeded Kennedy Pedigo of SMU, 3 and 2.

Arkansas’ Brooke Matthews, the third seed, was the only top-8 seed to win her opening match. Matthews routed Brittany Shin, 5 and 4.

Match-play scoring from the U.S. Women’s Amateur

Zhang was the 30th seed after a so-so stroke-play performance, but the incoming Stanford freshman, fresh off her victory at the U.S. Girls’ Junior and made cut at the Evian Championship, seemed to have found her groove on the back nine in her match against Penn sophomore Elle Nachmann, who back in 2017 became the youngest player to qualify for three USGA women’s championships in the same year, when, at age 14, she earned her way into the U.S. Women’s Amateur, U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball.

Zhang made six birdies and led 2 up with six holes to play, but Nachmann didn’t quit. She won three of the next four holes to grab a 1-up lead, and then she sunk an 8-footer for birdie at the last to edge Zhang, who had won 15 of her last 16 USGA matches.

“I'm feeling amazing,” Nachmann said. “I knew that she was going to be a tough competitor. It really, really makes me confident.”

Elle Nachmann knocks off Rose Zhang at U.S. Women’s Amateur

Elle Nachmann knocks off Rose Zhang at U.S. Women’s Amateur

Nachmann didn’t hit a single college-golf shot as a freshman as the Ivy League chose not to compete last season because of the pandemic. However, she’s had a spectacular summer, winning the Florida Women’s Amateur Stroke Play last month after finishing runner-up to LSU’s Kendall Griffin in the Florida Women’s Amateur. She also medaled in her U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier and came within a shot of qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open.

Even after those results, though, the Boca Raton, Florida, native was still ranked No. 1,968 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking entering this week. Zhang, of course, was No. 1, but she’s the only one of four Stanford players to be headed home Wednesday – Rachel Heck, Aline Krauter and Brooke Seay all won to advance to the Round of 32.

“Coming into this week I just didn't have the best game,” Zhang said. “I had to grind through stroke play, and then in match play obviously you can't make any mistakes.”

Wednesday's match results

  • Marissa Wenzler, Dayton, Ohio  (150) def. Rachel Kuehn, Asheville, N.C.  (138), 1 up
  • Hailey Borja, Lake Forest, Calif.  (146) def. Yilin (Angela) Liu, Irvine, Calif.  (146), 3 and 2
  • Valeria Mendizabal, Guatemala  (144) def. Laney Frye, Nicholasville, Ky.  (148), 2 and 1
  • Valentina Rossi, Argentina  (144) def. Hannah Holzmann, San Antonio, Texas  (148), 19 holes
  • Katie Cranston, Canada  (149) def. Morgan Baxendale, Windermere, Fla.  (143), 4 and 3
  • Tess Blair, South Jordan, Utah  (147) def. Kennedy Swann, Austin, Texas  (145), 5 and 3
  • Emilia Migliaccio, Cary, N.C.  (143) def. Ting-Hsuan Huang, Chinese Taipei  (149), 22 holes
  • Brooke Seay, San Diego, Calif.  (145) def. Savannah Barber, Fort Worth, Texas  (147), 3 and 2
  • Cara Heisterkamp, Westlake, Ohio  (149) def. Erica Shepherd, Greenwood, Ind.  (142), 19 holes
  • Mika Jin, Fremont, Calif.  (146) def. Lauren Hartlage, Elizabethtown, Ky.  (146), 2 and 1
  • Aneka Seumanutafa, Emmitsburg, Md.  (144) def. Audrey Tan, Malaysia  (148), 1 up
  • Aline Krauter, Germany  (148) def. Clare Connolly, Chevy Chase, Md.  (145), 5 and 3
  • Emma McMyler, San Antonio, Texas  (149) def. Caroline Canales, Calabasas, Calif.  (142), 2 and 1
  • Xin (Cindy) Kou, People's Republic of China  (146) def. Lauren Peter, Carmel, N.Y.  (145), 3 and 2
  • Yu-Chiang Hou, Chinese Taipei  (148) def. Alessia Nobilio, Italy  (144), 3 and 2
  • Bibilani Liu, Cupertino, Calif.  (147) def. Grace Summerhays, Scottsdale, Ariz.  (145), 3 and 1
  • Jensen Castle, West Columbia, S.C.  (150) def. Kennedy Pedigo, Fort Worth, Texas  (140), 3 and 2
  • Sophie Linder, Carthage, Tenn.  (146) def. Bridget Ma, Windermere, Fla.  (146), 22 holes
  • Jenny Bae, Suwanee, Ga.  (144) def. Bailey Davis, White Plains, Md.  (148), 3 and 2
  • Anna Morgan, Spartanburg, S.C.  (148) def. Cory Lopez, Mexico  (144), 1 up
  • Rianne Mikhaela Malixi, Philippines  (149) def. Allysha Mae Mateo, Mililani, Hawaii  (143), 19 holes
  • Valery Plata, Colombia  (146) def. Julia Gregg, Farmers Branch, Texas  (145), 5 and 4
  • Sophie (Yixian) Guo, People's Republic of China  (143) def. Maisie Filler, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.  (149), 3 and 2
  • Emily Mahar, Australia  (147) def. Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, Australia  (145), 2 up
  • Brooke Matthews, Rogers, Ark.  (141) def. Brittany Shin, Cape Coral, Fla.  (149), 5 and 4
  • Elle Nachmann, Boca Raton, Fla.  (146) def. Rose Zhang, Irvine, Calif.  (146), 1 up
  • Rachel Heck, Memphis, Tenn.  (144) def. Karen Tsuru, Carlsbad, Calif.  (148), 7 and 5
  • Grace Kim, Australia  (148) def. Celeste Dao, Canada  (144), 1 up
  • Kailie Vongsaga, Diamond Bar, Calif.  (149) def. Alyaa Abdulghany, Malaysia  (143), 1 up
  • Riley Smyth, Cary, N.C.  (145) def. Suthavee Chanachai, Thailand  (146), 3 and 1
  • Kan Bunnabodee, Thailand  (143) def. Alyson Bean, Murrieta, Calif.  (149), 1 up
  • Emma Spitz, Austria  (147) def. Jackie Rogowicz, Yardley, Pa.  (145), 3 and 2

Thursday's matches, tee times (ET)

  • 7 a.m. Marissa Wenzler, Dayton, Ohio  (150) vs. Hailey Borja, Lake Forest, Calif.  (146)
  • 7:10 a.m. Valeria Mendizabal, Guatemala  (144) vs. Valentina Rossi, Argentina  (144)
  • 7:20 a.m. Katie Cranston, Canada  (149) vs. Tess Blair, South Jordan, Utah  (147)
  • 7:30 a.m. Emilia Migliaccio, Cary, N.C.  (143) vs. Brooke Seay, San Diego, Calif.  (145)
  • 7:40 a.m. Cara Heisterkamp, Westlake, Ohio  (149) vs. Mika Jin, Fremont, Calif.  (146)
  • 7:50 a.m. Aneka Seumanutafa, Emmitsburg, Md.  (144) vs. Aline Krauter, Germany  (148)
  • 8 a.m. Emma McMyler, San Antonio, Texas  (149) vs. Xin (Cindy) Kou, People's Republic of China  (146)
  • 8:10 a.m. Yu-Chiang Hou, Chinese Taipei  (148) vs. Bibilani Liu, Cupertino, Calif.  (147)
  • 8:20 a.m. Jensen Castle, West Columbia, S.C.  (150) vs. Sophie Linder, Carthage, Tenn.  (146)
  • 8:30 a.m. Jenny Bae, Suwanee, Ga.  (144) vs. Anna Morgan, Spartanburg, S.C.  (148)
  • 8:40 a.m. Rianne Mikhaela Malixi, Philippines  (149) vs. Valery Plata, Colombia  (146)
  • 8:50 a.m. Sophie (Yixian) Guo, People's Republic of China  (143) vs. Emily Mahar, Australia  (147)
  • 9 a.m. Brooke Matthews, Rogers, Ark.  (141) vs. Elle Nachmann, Boca Raton, Fla.  (146)
  • 9:10 a.m. Rachel Heck, Memphis, Tenn.  (144) vs. Grace Kim, Australia  (148)
  • 9:20 a.m. Kailie Vongsaga, Diamond Bar, Calif.  (149) vs. Riley Smyth, Cary, N.C.  (145)
  • 9:30 a.m. Kan Bunnabodee, Thailand  (143) vs. Emma Spitz, Austria  (147)