11 of Top 16 Seeds, Including Reese McCauley, Advance in U.S. Junior Girls

July 21, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- There were a few notable exceptions, but most of the high seeds made their way through the first round of match play on Wednesday at the U.S. Girls Junior Championship. The No. 2, 5, 6 and 7 seeds all lost, but 11 of the top 16 advanced to Thursday's Round of 32. 

Saki Baba, a 17-year-old from Japan, shot a bogey-free 4-under-par 69 on Tuesday at The Club at Olde Stone in the second round of stroke-play qualifying. That gave her a 36-hole total of 139, which was good enough to earn a share of medalist honors -- and the No. 1 seed for match play. 

On Wednesday, she was 4 under again, except that this time she needed to play only 14 holes in a 6&4 victory the No. 64 seed, Brynn Kort. 

Things didn't go nearly as well for Natalie Vo. She, too, turned in a 139 (71-68) during the stroke-play portion of the tournament, and was the co-medalist. She was the No. 2 seed, but on Wednesday the 18-year-old Colorado State sophomore to be was 2 over for 15 holes. Her opponent, the No. 63 seed, Thienna Huynh, shot 151 in qualifying and had to survive a 9-for-7 playoff on Wednesday morning. She got the second-to-last spot.

Nevertheless, Huynh has impressive credentials. She was the Georgia Golf Association's Girls Junior Player of the Year in 2021, and she combined with another Atlanta-area teenager, Sara Im, to win the U.S. Women's Amateur Four-Ball this spring. So it shouldn't come as a total surprise that Huynh was 3 under for 15 holes in her match against Vo, whom she beat 4&3.

Im, by the way, is also in this tournament. She qualified with an aggregate of 145 and is the No. 18 seed. She won her Round of 64 match 3&1 over No. 47 Reagan Southerland. 

One Minnesota girl made it through the stroke-play qualifying -- Reese McCauley, the 2021 state Class AAA high school champion. 

The 16-year-old from Inver Grove Heights had a fairly wild round on Tuesday in qualifying. She made seven birdies, a double bogey and two pars in her last 10 holes during a second-round 69, which gave her a 36-hole tab of 143 and the No. 13 seed. 

On Wednesday, she won 3&2 over No. 52 Kaila Elsayegh, but it was hardly a ho-hum, routine kind of victory. She and Elsayegh didn't tie a single hole on the front nine. McCauley won the first three with a birdie and two pars, lost the fourth hole with a bogey, won the fifth with a birdie, but then bogeyed the sixth, seventh and eighth holes and lost them all. So she was back where she started -- all square.

The long-hitting McCauley -- she averages somewhere in range of 265 to 270 yards, or maybe 275, with her driver -- took the lead for good when she birdied the 486-yard, par-5 ninth. She and Elsayegh tied a hole for the first time at the 10th, and they halved the 11th and 12th, as well. McCauley won both the par-3 13th (128 yards) and the par-4 14th (278) with pars to go 3 up. They halved the 436-yard, par-4 15th with bogeys and the 142-yard, par-3 16th with pars, and that was that.

McCauley will play No. 45 seed Kaitlyn Schroeder on Thursday. Schroeder upset No. 20 Trinity Beth 3&2 in her first-round match. They were tied through 12 holes, but Schroeder won the 13th with a birdie, tied for 14th with a birdie and then went birdie-par to win the 15th and 16th holes, and end the match. This was match play, which means concessions, but Schroeder was 5 under according to the scorecard for the 16 holes she played.

Baba will face the No. 32 seed, Kiara Romero, in her Round of 32 match. Romero beat No. 33 Yunxuan Zhang 3&1 on Wednesday.

As for Hunyh, she will face No. 31 Grace Kilcrease, a 4&3 winner over No. 34 Nikki Oh.
Im will get No. 15 Katie Li, who dispatched the No. 50 seed, Claire Henson, 5&4.  

U.S. Girls' Junior

At The Club at Olde Stone

Par 73, 6,565 yards

Bowling Green, Ky. 

Match Play

Round of 64

(1) Saki Baba def. (64) Brynn Kort 6&4

(8) Samantha Olson def. (57) Vanessa Zhang 23 holes

(4) Olivia Duan def. (61) Kyra Ly 2&1

(13) Reese McCauley def. (52) Kaila Elsayegh 3&2

(60) Kylee Choi def. (5) Catherine Park 1 up

(63) Thienna Huynh def. (2) Natalie Vo 4&3

(58) Charissa Shang def. (7) Alexia Siehl 2&1

(3) Yana Wilson def. (62) Morgan Smith 2&1

(59) Jennifer Seo def. (6) Karen Tsuru 2&1

Stroke play

Final results (the top 64 will advance to match play Wednesday morning)

T1. Natalie Vo, San Jose, Calif.              71-68--139

T1. Saki Baba, Japan                              70-69--139

T3. Olivia Duan, Cupertino, Calif.            71-69--140

T3. Yana Wilson, Henderson, Nev.          69-71--140

5. Catherine Park, Irvine, Calif.                72-69--141

T6. Alexia Siehl, Fort Mill, S.C.                71-71--142

T6. Fiona Xu, New Zealand                     72-70--142

T6. Justice Bosio, Australia                      69-73--142

T6. Karen Tsuru, Carlsbad, Calif.             70-72--142

T6. Samantha Olson, Phoenix                  72-70--142

T11. Reese McCauley, Inver Grove Hts. 74-69--143

T11. Farah O'Keefe, Austin, Texas            69-74--143

T11. Maria Jose Marin, Colombia              74-69--143

Failed to advance -- (9 players tied for 58th at 151; so there will be a 9-for-7 playoff Wednesday morning to complete the match play field of 64)

Bella McCauley, Inver Grove Hts.            76-76--152

Maria Jose Barragan, Mexico                    82-74--156


Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website, mngolf.org, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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