Clutch Birdies in the Morning & a Bogey-Free Afternoon Get McCauley to Final 8

July 21, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Reese McCauley can make a lot of birdies, as she demonstrated in the second round of stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Girls' Junior on Tuesday by ratttling off seven birdies in her last 10 holes at The Club at Olde Stone. That elevated her into a tie for 11th place, and she went into the match-play portion of the tournament as the No. 13 seed.

On Thursday morning, the 16-year-old from Inver Grove Heights showed that she can also make birdies when it really matters. Trailing 2 down with two holes to go in her Round of 32 match against the No. 45 seed, Kaitlyn Schroeder, she birdied the 17th and 18th holes to get into extra holes and added another birdie on the second playoff hole to win the match.  

McCauley got off to a slow start. The 2021 Minnesota state Class AAA high school champion from Simley (she's home-schooled but lives in the Simley district) bogeyed the par-3 third and par-4 fourth holes to fall 2 down. But she turned things around with her first birdie binge of the day. It started at the 334-yard, par-4 sixth. She followed that with another birdie at the 534-yard, par-5 seventh, then won the par-3 eighth with a par, and made it three birdies in four holes at the 470-yard, par-5 ninth, which put her 2 up.

Schroeder responded with two birdies over the next three holes to level the match.

Consecutive bogeys by McCauley at the 14th and 15th holes enabled Schroeder to go 2 up. They both parred the 16th; so McCauley had to birdie the 375-yard, par-4 17th just to stay alive, which she did, and she pulled even with her birdie at the 555-yard, par-5 18th. So they went back to No. 1, and both made pars. But No. 2 at Olde Stone is a par-5 (530 yards), and the long-hitting McCauley took advantage of it, making a third birdie in four holes for the second time in the match -- and thereby ending it.

Having made 20 birdies, 12 bogeys and one double in her first four rounds this week, McCauley tidied things up on Thursday afternoon in the Round of 16. She went bogey free for the first time at Olde Stone, and made three birdies in a 2&1 victory over Ashley Kim (No. 36).

McCauley and Kim traded birdies at the fourth and fifth holes, but McCauley went 2 up when Kim bogeyed the sixth and seventh. Kim got one back with a birdie at the 170-yard eighth. That was their fifth hole in a row without a tie, but they halved the par-5 ninth with birdies. McCauley won the 10th with a par, and Kim won the par-5 11th with a birdie. But 1 down was as close as she got on the back nine. McCauley won the 329-yard, par-4 14th with a birdie, and three halved holes with pars were all she needed after that.

With that victory, she earned a place in Friday's quarterfinals, where she will take on the No. 12 seed, Maria Jose Marin, a 17-year-old Colombian who won the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl in January. Marin, like McCauley, was bogey free on Thursday afternoon, and she made six birdies in a 6&4 pasting of No. 60 Kylee Choi.

The No. 63 seed, Thienna Huynh, pulled off the biggest upset of the first round when she beat No. 2 Natalie Vo 4&3. She was 3 under for 15 holes in that one, but she was 6 over for her first 11 holes on Thursday morning, and ended up losing 2&1 to Grace Kilcrease (No. 31).

Also losing in the Round of 32 was the No. 1 seed, Saki Baba. She was beaten by No. 32 Kiara Romero. Romero was 3 over and 2 down after four holes, and she was still 3 down after 13, but she was 3 under from there and won four of the last five holes in her 1-up victory. Romero's Round of 16 match against No. 16 Gianna Clemente went exactly the opposite way a few hours later. Early on, Romero took advantage of Clemente's mistakes and took a 2-up lead, but she never won another hole, and Clemente came back to claim a 2&1 victory.

Kilcrease didn't make it to the quarters, either. Sara Im eagled the ninth and birdied the 11th against Kilcrease, taking both holes to go 3 up, and she ended up beating Kilcrease 3&1.   

The highest seed still alive is No. 3 Yana Wilson, a 15-year-old from Henderson, Nev. She was 1 down to No. 35 Morgan Ketchum after 12 holes in the Round of 16, but she won the 13th with a par, halved the next four holes with pars and won the match with a birdie at the 18th. 

U.S. Girls' Junior

At The Club at Olde Stone

Par 73, 6,565 yards

Bowling Green, Ky. 

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

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

Round of 32

(32) Kiara Romero def. (1) Baba 1 up

(16) Gianna Clemente def. (17) Adrian Anderson 2 up

(40) Kynadie Adams def. (8) Olson 5&4

(36) Ashley Kim def. (4) Duan 4&3

(13) McCauley def. (45) Kaitlyn Schroeder 20 holes

(12) Maria Jose Marin def. (21) Bailey Shoemaker 5&4

(31) Grace Kilcrease def. (63) Hunyh 2&1

(18) Sara Im def. (15) Katie Li 3&2

(39) Asterisk Talley def. (58) Shang 2&1

(3) Wilson def. (35) Morgan Ketchum 1 up

(59) Seo def. (27) Laura Zaretsky concession

Round of 16

(16) Clemente def. Romero 2&1

(9) Justice Bosio def. (40) Adams 

(13) McCauley def. (36) Kim 2&1

(12) Marin def. (60) Kylee Choi 6&4

(18) Im def. (31) Kilcrease 3&2

(10) Fiona Xu def. (39) Asterisk Talley 2&1

(3) Wilson def. (19) Ting-Hsuan Huang 4&3

(43) Nicole Gal def. (59) Seo 1 up

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,, 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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