(SPRINGFIELD, Pa.) – With a championship-record 9-under 133, Mariel Galdiano earned medalist honors in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, being conducted at the 6,259-yard, par-71 Rolling Green Golf Club.
The 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, conducted by the United States Golf Association, is open to female amateur golfers with a Handicap Index not exceeding 5.4. It consists of two 18-hole rounds of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play, with the championship scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final on Sunday.
“I really like the layout,” said Galdiano, an incoming freshman at UCLA, of the William Flynn design. “It's the same designer as the course out at Lancaster (Country Club) last year for the Women's Open. I played in that. So it's a comfortable feel and comfortable look. So I'm just able to pinpoint my approach shots and make those putts.”
Galdiano’s 9-under 133 is the lowest 36-hole score in U.S. Women’s Amateur history, breaking the previous mark of 135 set by Courtney Swaim Trimble (2002, Sleepy Hollow Country Club) and Yumi Matsubara (2013, Country Club of Charleston). Her second-round 65 is tied with Rachel Rohanna (2010, Charlotte Country Club) for the second-lowest 18-hole score in history. Matsubara’s first-round 64 at the Country Club of Charleston is the lowest round in championship history.
After her round, Galdiano had no idea of her feat, despite enjoying two days that remarkably included only one bogey to 10 birdies.
“It’s kind of shocking, actually,” said Galdiano. “I thought people would be like, lights out, 15 under.”
Li carded two bogeys and five birdies en route to a 3-under 68 on Tuesday. Her two-day total of 135 is the second-lowest in championship history. Playing in her second U.S. Women’s Amateur, Li came to Rolling Green with modest expectations.
“Going into this week, because it's so long, I really wasn't expecting anything. I just wanted to play well,” said Li, who holds youngest-qualifier records for the U.S. Women’s Open (2014 at age 11) and the U.S. Women’s Amateur (2013 at age 10). “I wasn't actually sure if I could make the cut, but I guess I played better than I thought.”
Li is looking to better her result from last month’s U.S. Girls’ Junior at The Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J., where she fell in the Round of 16. Choi reached the semifinals at Ridgewood and is also eyeing her next step. The 2016 Canadian Women’s Amateur champion was 1 over through 15 holes, but birdied her last three holes to end with a flourish and grab the No. 3 seed in match play.
“Today was definitely a long day for me,” said Choi, who also earned low-amateur honors in the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle. “I didn't really have the conditions coming into the competition today. The last two birdies, I think I was more relaxed. So I was able to get three birdies in a row. Not good conditions, but, hey, relaxing made it work.
Saso returned a colorful card on Tuesday, opening her day with a double bogey on the par-4 first and capping it with a 7-footer for eagle on the par-5 17th. The ninth-grader sandwiched three birdies and two bogeys in between for a rollercoaster 1-under 70.
“I feel really thankful because my goal this week was to get into match play and I did,” said Saso, who won the 2016 Philippine Junior Match Play Championship in May.
Kristen Gillman, who won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur, finished at even-par 142 to easily advance to match play. Others at 142 include 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Gabriella Then and 2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up Andrea Lee.
Margaret Shirley-Starosto, 30, of Roswell, Ga., became the first mid-amateur (25 and older) to make the cut at the U.S. Women’s Amateur since 2013. Shirley-Starosto, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion and the 2013 and 2015 runner-up, finished at 2-over 144 and a tie for 39th with nine other players, a group that includes 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball co-champion Kaitlyn Papp and 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team members Bailey Tardy and Monica Vaughn.
The match-play cut came at 5-over 147, with a 9-for-5 playoff for the final match-play berths. Aurora Kan, Abbey Carlson, Kacie Komoto and August Kim all made pars on the first playoff hole to advance to match play. The playoff will resume at 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, with Riley Rennell, Taylor Tomlinson, Megan Thothong, Jackie Rogowitz and Muni He playing for the 64th seed and a Wednesday-morning match against Galdiano.
Notables to miss the cut include 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up Sierra Brooks (152); 2015 Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief (152); four-time U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi (157); and 11-year-old Alexa Pano (156), the youngest competitor in the field and the third-youngest player in championship history.
Defending champion Hannah O’Sullivan is not in the field after competing in last week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship with an exemption she earned by virtue of her 2015 victory. The U.S. Women’s Amateur champion traditionally receives an exemption into four major professional championships – the U.S. Women’s Open, the Women’s British Open, the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship.
The match-play rounds of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. Coverage will be from 3-6 p.m. EDT Wednesday through Friday, and from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Exclusive bonus coverage will be streamed live on usga.org on Thursday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon.